We’ve all been there. You’re at work but can only focus on how and when you’re going to fix the water heater that broke this morning. You rush home to tackle that problem, but you find that you can’t leave work at the lab. A quick search on the internet for the term ‘work-life balance’ pulls up a myriad of books, articles, how-tos, and tips. Yet, how do you keep from feeling guilty when your home life starts to creep into your working hours? And how do you stop that twinge from resurfacing when you pull into the fast food drive thru for the second time this week because you had to stay late at work?
Written by: Tara Luther, Promega
Author Scott Mautz recommends banishing the guilt in a recent article he wrote for Inc. In the article, he lists five things that you should never apologize or feel guilty for.
Having a life outside of work
Mautz says it’s all too easy for employees to start comparing themselves to one another and to feel like they’re not dedicated enough if they don’t spend as much time in the office as their co-workers. He, however, doesn’t find it inspiring watching an employee spend all their waking hours at the computer, and he says you shouldn’t either. Rather, aim to emulate those who draw a line in the sand and save some time in the day for themselves and their families.
Mautz clarifies that this is more specific than just having a life outside of work. He encourages employees to set parameters within their workday for what they will and won’t do. Are you being stretched too thin? Then say no! You can only give so much of yourself before burning out, and then what happens? Mautz says boundary setting is a form of self-preservation, and is generally respected by peers, as long as these boundaries have been clearly communicated beforehand.
Mautz says this is not about setting boundaries, but rather creating a pecking order. In order to become a pro at achieving a work-life balance, you need to prioritize. Yes, in doing so, there may be some items that aren’t crossed off the list, or people that you aren’t able to assist as quickly as you like, but that’s ok. Trying to cross everything off the list all at once may lead to mistakes, so don’t feel guilty if there’s something that you didn’t get to.
Having peaks and valleys
If having a work-life balance is a struggle for you, then Mautz states there are going to be days when you’re performing better, and those when you’re not performing well. He says the key is to try to anticipate when you aren’t going to be at your best and then do the best that you can. Since you can’t do better than your best, there is no sense in feeling guilty when your energy, productivity level, and outcome are less than desirable.
Asking for help at work
Some may feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but Mautz clarifies that it’s actually a sign of wisdom. He recommends showing others why you need the help to keep the guilt at bay, and to make the ask specific. He also says that offering to help others when you’re able will make it easier to ask for assistance in return.
If establishing a work-life balance were easy, there wouldn’t be page after page of search results, but starting with a few items on this list will make it easier to achieve. Do you have any suggestions to add? Join the conversation on our social media pages.
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