Balancing work and family life is a major challenge for many professionals. Many established professionals find it stressful to juggle the demands of successful careers with the obligations they have to their families, and regaining that balance once it has been lost only adds to that stress.
Part of the difficulty of balancing work and family life is that the challenge is ongoing. The threat of losing your work-life balance is never too far away, but there are steps men and women can take to regain that balance once it's been lost.
* Start documenting your activities. No one operates at 100 percent efficiency all the time, but balancing obligations at work with those at home is especially difficult when time is routinely lost to trivial matters or tasks at work that can be delegated to others. These time-consuming tasks have a tendency to add up, but professionals rarely take note of the smaller tasks or distractions that cost them time. Start documenting your activities on a daily basis, jotting down how each hour of your day is spent, both at home and at work. Do this for several weeks, after which time a pattern will likely develop, and you can see where you are wasting time and where you are being most efficient with your time. When you sit down to examine your notes, look for ways to free up time without sacrificing the quality of your work or the quality of time you spend with your family. Don't be afraid to make changes.
* Don't go it alone. Teamwork is important at home and around the office and can help overburdened professionals regain their work-life balance. If you tend to go it alone in the office, reach out to your colleagues more often, seeking their help on projects and offering your help in return. This can drastically cut back on the hours you spend in the office, giving you more quality time at home. But you also can work with your family to free up more time. Assign tasks around the house so you aren't doing chores during the time you do have at home. Split cooking duties with your spouse or even the kids if they're old enough and delegate other household tasks as well. Such tasks can be tackled while you're at work so the family can spend more time together each night and on weekends.
* Stop emulating Atlas. In Greek mythology, Atlas was condemned to standing at the edge of the Earth and holding the weight of Uranus on his shoulders. Many professionals can no doubt empathize with Atlas, even if taking such weight on their shoulders was self-inflicted. Regaining work-life balance may require taking some of that weight off of your shoulders by learning to respectfully decline extra projects around the office or in your personal life. You can still pitch in on special projects at work without spearheading them, much like you can still spend time with your kids at the ballpark even if you aren't their coach. Cutting back on your obligations is a great way to reduce stress and free up time to focus on the things that mean the most to you.
* Think outside the box. If you have examined your daily activities and commitments but can't seem to find any ways to regain your work-life balance, start looking for unique ways to make the time you spend at work and the time you spend at home more proportionate. Consider telecommuting one or two days per week to free up time to spend with your family. If moving is an option, consider moving closer to your office so you aren't spending so much time commuting to and from work each day. Even if you have seemingly exhausted all options, chances are strong there is a solution to help you regain your work-life balance. But sometimes that balance requires a little creativity and some give-and-take with both your employer and your family.