Sunday, October 16, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: Creating Work-Life Balance by Diane Lang

We all struggle with work-balance. We have busy lives and at times it can all seem a bit overwhelming. The truth is you won’t always have a perfect work-life balanced life sometimes your life will be chaotic but the good news is there are tips to help you handle the overwhelming days and regain your sense of balance and happiness. Here are a few tips that can help you feel a little more balance is your daily life.

1. We feel the pressure from both work and home but if you don’t like your job, you will feel it more often. If you have a Career instead of a job, you will feel happier going to your office. You will have “Flow” at work. Time will pass quicker and you will enjoy your day if you’re doing what you love. Most of us spend at least 60 hours a week working (this includes e-mails, calls and texts even after 5pm) add your commute and you realize how much time you really spend at work. If you’re doing something you don’t enjoy, you will feel it right away. As a mom, you have to remember you have two jobs. The first being a mom, the second is your job outside of the home. If you’re not happy at your outside job it will affect your role as a mom. Follow your passions and feel more balanced.

2. Home time – when your home, spend some real time with your family. This means set some time aside for family time without taking calls/texts from work. Dinner time is very important. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about communication. This is the time for everyone to discuss their day. Ask questions that need more then a yes or no answer to keep the discussion going.

3. Live in the here and now – people feel stressed when they focus on the past even though it’s gone and they worry about the future that isn’t here yet. Use your past to learn from and plan for your future but live in the here and now. Live in the moment! It’s like the saying goes: Stop and smell the flowers. When you live in the moment, you will enjoy your life; this is a great lesson to teach your kids. Your kids learn through role modeling, observation and imitation, let them see you enjoying each and every moment.

4. Set a long term goal (1 -5 years). Set up short term goals to reach that long term goal. Make both goals realistic. The key word is “Realistic”. If your goals aren’t realistic, you will feel overwhelmed and will procrastinate. If they are realistic, you will accomplish them and with each accomplishment you will feel a sense of positive reinforcement which will motivate you to move forward and reach your long term goals.

5. NO- Learn to say no. Practice makes it easier. I wish there was another way around it but the truth is the more you say no, the easier it will get. I know a lot of people have a hard time saying no due to guilt or fear of hurting someone’s feelings but the truth is when you say YES but mean NO, you only hurt yourself. You becomes stressed and then angry at yourself. Say no.

6. Mental breaks – throughout your day make sure to take mental health breaks – this is 15-20 minutes to breathe, take a walk, refuel, grab a bite to eat, etc. I remember at my first job (many years ago) every four hours of work we would get a 20 minute break. This should be the rule even if your self-employed, stay at home mom, etc. make sure you give yourself that 20 minute break. When you take small breaks, you will feel refreshed and more creative/productive.

7. Start the day off with extra time – wake up 10-15 minutes earlier then your family this gives you “me” time to get up, stretch, have coffee or just wake up before the chaos of the day starts. You will feel more refreshed to handle the day.

8. Support system – to feel balanced and happy, we need a small support system. We need 4-5 people in our lives that we trust and can call upon if needed.

9. Vacation time – make sure to actually use your vacation/personal time at your job. It’s there for a reason. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t use our days at all and most only use some. We need leisure time. It gives us a reward (positive reinforcement), something to look forward to and socialization. Plan your vacation with your family, it gives everyone something to look forward to and if you plan it together, you will pick a place that everyone will enjoy which means you can all have a great vacation!

Lang’s first book Baby Steps: the Path from Motherhood to Career, stresses striving for balance, health and happiness rather than “having it all.”  She offers a workshop “The Mom Series” in the NY metro area, to assist mothers returning to work.  Seminar topics include postpartum depression, overcoming guilt, finding a new identity in the workplace, plus interviewing, networking, etc.  Lang contributes to Working Mother and parenting blogs and is an Adjunct Professor in Psychology at Montclair State University and Dover Business College. Mother to eight year old daughter Lauren, she holds an M.A. in Counseling and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the New York Institute of Technology. Visit

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