How many times have you heard that your friends and colleagues are tired and stressed out with work? These days everyone is putting in longer hours, but not feeling as fulfilled as they would like to. It’s almost as if you’re on a treadmill that is increasing in speed with no destination!
“Work” – according to the Oxford Dictionary is the activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result; as a means of earning income. So we know that effort of any type can tire you out, but when you lack balance in that effort it can lead to chronic stress and tension. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress lowers your immune; it also lowers your digestive and reproductive systems. It affects your ability to sleep and is said to be a silent killer.
So how do you regain personal balance to prevent burnout and chronic stress? Here are 5 ways to take back your life:
1. Get Quiet & Clever
Step back from the crazy day that consumes you from morning, noon to night. Steal an hour to yourself on a weekly basis – book it in your calendar, just like you do for a meeting. Turn off all devices for that hour. Use that time to take stock of all the things that you have to accomplish this week. Make a thorough list and prioritize it. I have heard from many people that just taking time to get everything out of their head, gives them peace of mind.
2. Book Some ‘Me’ Time
I know many people who don’t even give this a second thought – they just automatically take time for themselves. But chances are, they are not the people who are struggling with stress. I love this infographic all about ‘me’ time and why it’s important to your happiness. You see, giving yourself permission to do whatever the heck you want is not only good for your own well-being but it is good for your family and those around you too. It will feel like you are stealing time from work at first, but eventually you’ll see that taking a break will refresh you and you’ll actually come back more productive.
3. Get Moving
Yes you’ve heard this one before – exercise!! So lets break this one down a bit because chances are you’re not likely to run out and hit the gym every day if you’ve never done that before. When I say get moving I mean just that ……MOVE!! That means get up and out of your office chair, out of your car or off the couch – make a commitment to do a walk around the block, or around a mall or even around the office at least once a day. Take the stairs, or park further from the mall – deliberately! Exercise will clear your mind of the work clutter; it will help to balance those dangerous stress hormones. The very act of any exercise increases the oxygen in your body and stimulates brain chemicals that should make you feel happier and more relaxed. Lets face it, most of us can improve the amount we move.
4. Draw the line
When was the last time you said no, declined to work late, or let people know you will not be available? Regain control by setting some boundaries with colleagues and other stakeholders, including your boss – what hours are you available for work-related meetings, what constitutes an emergency and what should they do in that event? When you book vacation, ensure you have someone who can be your back up and handle the majority of issues in your absence. It is important to carve out family time as well as downtime to recharge. Make a personal commitment to turn off your computer(s) and work phones at specific times. Many of us don’t want to let people down so check out this article by The Muse.com, which talks about setting boundaries without creating resentment at work.
5. Manage Yourself – Not Time
According to TED Talk by Rory Vaden who wrote the book Procrastinate on Purpose (pdf version avail), you can’t solve today’s time-management challenges with yesterday’s time management strategies. In this TED talk he explains why procrastinating on purpose is the key to being able to multiply your time. Spend time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow. He provides techniques in triaging your to do list, finding ways to save yourself time, and he helps you deal with the guilt of your decisions. Give thought to what influences you into using your precious time and set out a plan to be more strategic in how you review all of your “to do’s”.
You owe it to yourself, as well as to those who care about you, to find strategies for work life balance, reducing the work stress and taking back control of your time!
As an executive in these busy work environments, you may need help in planning how to take back some control over your life and regain personal balance. At Dots Leadership Solutions we provide you with one on one coaching to help you get organized and make a plan! Call us today for all of your leadership dilemmas. Check back time to time to check out features in our blog to help you be an effective leader.
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.