by: Mariel Attento and Talin Astourian, Twining, Inc.
A/E industry jobs are often mentally demanding and require many hours at the grindstone. We are living in a 24/7 business environment. Spreading yourself too thin leads to burnout and deprives you of producing your best work. Consider these strategies for developing a healthy work-life balance and promoting personal happiness.
Personal care: There are a few key priorities to set when it comes to work-life balance. Most importantly, sleep. Countless studies prove that sleep deprivation leads to lower productivity, so set good sleep boundaries and stick to them. Exercise will do your body good and provide you stress relief that you crave. Last but not least, make good hygiene a priority. Taking care of oneself will boost confidence and garner self respect.
Email management: One culprit that disrupts a healthy work-life balance is email. The miracle of smart phones has made it possible for your coworkers to reach you effectively at 2am. Implementing controls to manage your email is critical to maintaining your sanity. Some A/E professionals designate a specific time each day to review emails, or give themselves a break during the day, away from technology. You might also switch your phone to airplane mode, disable work emails, or place your phone somewhere out of reach when you leave the office.
Conserve your energy: Despite what you may think, you don’t have to do it all so don’t let guilt weigh you down. Do the best you can with what you have and remind yourself that it’s good enough. Take time to appreciate what you have and recognize your accomplishments. Don’t forget to celebrate! Finally, avoid energy zappers like negative people that drain you or environments that deplete your energy.
Schedule downtime: Do you designate time to yourself? Do you resent that your time and attention is solely focused on work? Consider scheduling an appointment for yourself in your Outlook calendar. Better yet, set up a biweekly recurrence. Beware of skipping lunch as this can be an indicator that things are getting out of balance. Put a book, crossword puzzle of personal project in your car and make it a point to get out of the office and away from your desk.
Pool resources: To maximize your time, car pool, ask your coworker to watch your email while you’re on vacation, and consolidate meetings that can be blended. Also, be effective with your time. You can use drive time to return calls, use flight time to catch up on a project that requires your full attention, and when you have a meeting, bring a list of discussion items so you can use that time to address more than one project or issue.
Time Management: Where does your time go? Take an honest assessment. Before agreeing to something, ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 through 10, how badly do I want to do this?” The closer it is to one, the less likely you should do it. Set clear boundaries and say “no” to things you don’t want to do. Next, cut out wasteful activities. Do you spend an hour a day shopping online or browsing gossip websites? A clear cut way to analyze your time can be done by making a chart. Look at where your time is spent on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Ask yourself what matters the most to you. Is it spending time with children or a spouse? Manage your schedule to include these activities.
When you’re mindful about where your time is going, you can improve the quality of your life.