A few nights ago, I reached on my nightstand for my iPad to shoot off an email before I went to sleep. By doing that, I completely broke my own rule about using mobile devices into my bedroom. I made the rule because I want my bedroom to be a sanctuary, a place I go to wind down, de-stress and restore my strength. When I think about work in my bedroom, I feel like I have nowhere to escape, no sense of work life balance.
Have you ever made a work life balance rule for yourself? Was it something like…. I'm not going to stay at the office past 6 p.m.! I'm not going to work on Saturdays! I'm not going to talk about work during dinner!
If you haven't, maybe it's time. What change big or small would make a difference in your life?
What do you feel you need more of in your life — time with your family, a good night sleep, weekend down time?
Now, make a rule that will improve that aspect of your life. Put it in positive terms such as….I am going to leave my office by 6 to enjoy more evening time with my kids.
Enforcing your rule is the crucial piece. So, how are you going to go about making work life balance changes that stick?
First, you need to have your rule visible. Put a reminder somewhere where you are going to see it at the time you most need it. In my example, I should have a sticky note on the cover of my iPad that reminds me not to bring it into my bedroom. For you, that reminder may be an alarm on your phone that alerts you to leave the office at 6, or maybe a sticky note near the dinner table reminding you to discuss uplifting, non-work topics during your meal.
Next, enlist help. Encourage a co-worker or your spouse to remind you of your new rule. I told my husband to remind me of my no tech use in the bedroom rule in case I slip up.
Use technology to your advantage. There are ways to turn off your alerts outside of work hours or auto-responders that say "I may not respond to this email prior to Monday."
Lastly, don't give up. Things happen that could cause you to break your rule every now and then. If you break your rule, like I did, tell yourself it's a temporary setback and you are going to do better. You want to aim for big-picture, long-term improvement to your work life balance.
Having some set rules for balancing your life can help you prioritize and prepare for curveballs that come your way. Try your best to limit the exceptions and follow the work-life balance rules you have set for yourself. Once you find this happy balance of work and personal time you will be more fulfilled in your career and a much more happier friend and family member.