6 Ways to Balance Life and Work This Summer

Saturday, May 30, 2015
Summer is practically upon us, and for me, this time of year, although a ton of fun, can be stressful due to the fact that I have a home-based business. Just the thought of the kids being out of school for 81 days invokes a sort of panic in me that I don't feel any other time of the year. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it all done and to do it well during these summer months. Late nights to make up for afternoons spent at the beach or pool are my summer norm. But this summer I plan to have a set schedule that will lend itself to some semblance of sanity.

In order to make that sanity a reality, I plan to employ these 6 ways to balance life and work this summer.

1. Let go of perfectionism
A lot of overachievers, myself included, develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It's easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As your career advances and as you start a family, your responsibilities grow. Perfectionism becomes harder to attain, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive. The healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence and to know that you are doing the best that you can.

2. Unplug
From telecommuting to programs that make work easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The work day never seems to end. There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment. Phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. So don't text at your kid's soccer game and don't send work emails while you're hanging out with family. Make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will developing a stronger habit of resilience.

3. Exercise and meditate
Even when we're busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs - exercise - is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps endorphin's through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state. I recently re-joined my gym and this summer I will dedicate a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it's exercise, yoga or meditation. But if you're really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute, a quick five minute meditation session morning and night, or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction.

4. Limit time-wasting activities and people
These are the things that can really suck the life out of us. First, identify what's most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else's, especially those of your children. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities. From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.

5. Change the structure of your life
Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. It's always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier? Instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Delegating can be a win-win situation. Find out what you can do to let go in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities. I've started doing this with my daughters, and they are learning to do more for themselves and are feeling empowered in the process.

6. Start small. Build from there.
We've all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year's resolutions we forget by February. It's the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly. As my husband likes to say, "Crawl. Walk. Run." Start small and experience some success, and build from there until you are at a comfortable pace and accomplishing what you set out to do while maintaining your happiness.

Tips appear courtesy of Cindy Lane Ross. Text has been personalized by me.

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