Life thrives on balance. We’ve known this for our entire lives; from the first time our parents helped us up onto a bike, we’ve understood that we exist between opposing forces. Maintaining balance itself is key to our survival — it’s what keeps us from falling off the bike into a world of stress and unanswered emails. Even though technology seems to optimize our lives for efficiency, constant access to work blurs our professional and personal lives. Going home doesn’t have the same significance as it did 50 years ago; home is no longer a departure from the outside world, it now serves as an extension of it.
While many people believe that time is money, family is invaluable — and so is the time we spend with them. After I sent my oldest daughter off to college, I continued to realize just how important it is to balance your career with your family, especially as a mother. While you want to spend every second watching your kids grow up and reach new milestones, your career aspirations pull you in another direction — leading you to wonder how, if at all, your love can be shared.
It is difficult to remain balanced, but it’s just like riding a bike — you just have to stay motivated, pedal hard, and you’ll get wherever it is that you need to go. Here are a few ways I encourage myself and my teams to focus on work-life integration to live a happy and healthy life, while focusing on a fulfilling career:
Find Your Routine and Rhythm
It’s important to find your rhythm and integrate it into a routine every day. For me, I like to get into the office early at 7:30 A.M. to start my day before most of my colleagues arrive. This allows me to mentally prepare and plan for my day and get ahead of my to-do list, meetings and other commitments.
Professionals who are on the go and traveling to different offices and clients often find it difficult to adjust to such a syncopated rhythm. When traveling, I try to stay consistent with the routine I have at home — for example, I consistently eat and sleep at times that I adhere to while at home. I recommend keeping healthy snacks in your bag (i.e. almonds and granola bars) to stay energized while still being health conscious. Your hydration levels are just as important in maintaining balance within your body, so keep your reusable water bottle in sight. When returning from work travel, take time to mentally unwind; listen to your favorite music, read a book, watch a movie or practice yoga to clear your head. A routine provides structure and keeps you grounded when your calendar notifications are buzzing.
Seek Your Stress Reliever
As you tackle your to-do list of work tasks throughout the day, it’s just as important to incorporate tasks to increase your energy level and enhance your creativity. Exercise is one of my greatest stress relievers, so I choose to dedicate time to take my dogs for a walk or go for a run when I can. If the week is busy, I wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning to start my weekend feeling refreshed. No matter what your stress reliever is, make time for it daily or weekly.
Make Quality Time for the Ones You Love
Staying connected and being present with the loved ones in your life starts with creating boundaries between work and your family. I take an hour every night (between 6 P.M. and 7 P.M.) to completely detach myself from my phone and to focus on my family — I talk about school with my younger daughters and eat dinner with my husband, before calling my oldest to discuss our favorite shows on TLC. Additionally, I schedule my calendar in advance to attend my daughters’ concerts and basketball games so I can be there when it truly matters.