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Good Housekeeping
Tisha Alvarez Angluben, Contributor
August 01, 2009

6 Steps to Work-Life balance

Are your work and personal lives playing an endless game of tug-of-war? Keep a balanced schedule--and your sanity--with these tips. By Tisha Alvarez Angluben
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work_life_balance.jpgYou’ve been at the office for 14 hours now, counting the lunch break you spent at your desk. You’ve begged off from another get-together with friends, so you can get more work done tonight. You know you’ll still need the next evening to finish everything, which means breaking another date. You make a mental note that somehow, you’ll make it up to him—again.

Sounds routine to you? Something is amiss. You may be on the verge of serious burnout. “Burnout comes from many sources: working too many hours, doing too many different tasks, taking on too many projects, and setting unrealistically high standards,” says The New York Post columnist Erika Welz Prafder in her book Keep Your Paycheck, Live Your Passion. With the prospect of many others coveting your job, today’s work environment is so competitive that we feel the need to always go a mile further—even when we’re almost running on empty.

While doing all that extra work can earn you Brownie points and hasten your ascent up the corporate ladder, take a moment to consider the drawbacks: exhaustion, the deterioration of relationships with family or a significant other, and neglecting yourself. And while you may rationalize that you can stop working so hard once you get promoted, the way you’re working now could create a vicious cycle in which your boss comes to expect all the extra effort you’ve been exerting.

Another drawback: Having too much on your plate can, in fact, make you more inefficient, especially as fatigue sets in—so all that hard work might end up backfiring. “The farther up the ladder you want to climb, the more you’ll need to be a visionary, not a crazed, overworked lunatic,” writes life coach Laura Fortgang Berman in Take Yourself to the Top.


Stop merely making a living, and start living your life. If you’re ready to make a change, consider the following moves:

“Re-examine the behavior patterns that govern how you budget your time,” advises Prafder. Similar to keeping a food diary, keep a journal for a few days to record how you spend every hour. Afterwards, determine which tasks have been eating up time, and find ways to address these time-wasters. Perhaps you check your email too often, which disrupts your work flow. If that’s the case, then schedule two specific time periods during the day to check and send out mail.

If you’ll be meeting with the same group of people over the course of the week for various matters, map out everything that needs to be discussed and deal with it in one go. This will free up your schedule, say respondents in a national research project on work-life balance conducted by the Ohio State University.

Learn to trust your colleagues. When you’ve got a long list of things to do, ask yourself: “Am I really the only one who can accomplish this?” Chances are, there are tasks you can hand over to others. Just ask for their help in a gentle way.

Don’t bring work home. It may seem impossible in the age of the mobile phone and wireless PC connection. Turn off your cell while you’re out on a date or having dinner with the family; have your voice mail pick up calls over the weekend and set a fixed time to check it.

The next time you’re tempted to take something on when you know you really can’t, don’t be forced into agreeing just to placate a colleague. Say “no.” Be polite about it and give sufficient reason, suggests the Mayo Clinic (whose website offers useful tips and tools for healthy living): “Complimenting the person or group’s effort while saying that you’re unable to commit at this time helps to soften the blow and keeps you in good graces.”

It may be a matter of adjusting your family’s schedule so that you can all spend more time together. Eating meals at a later time or doing chores together are a couple of ways to increase quality time with each other.


(First published in Marie Claire, July 2007; photo source: sxc.hu)

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  • princess Mar 05 2010 @ 11:27am Report Abuse
    i am really a workaholic person,but when my husband starts complaining about the time i spent in the office versus the time we had together and not being able to attend to their needs,it made me realized that most of my time was spent working. but now i've learned how to manage my schedule and value my family first before anything else.
    Last modified Apr 07 2010 @ 03:29pm
  • deejay Mar 17 2010 @ 11:09pm Report Abuse
    You work to live, so don't forget the live part.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • jasmin Apr 07 2010 @ 05:14pm Report Abuse
    this really helped me realize the true essence why I work. i thought that being a multitasking superwoman would make me feel more powerful and would give me a greater sense of self-esteem, but lately, it backfires on me. it doesn't make the work fun anymore. and quality of work is compromised because i have been spreading myself too thin just to deliver everything on time. i hope i can have some "me" time to reflect and focus on the things that really matter. it's a good start anyway that i am now realizing this. :)
    Last modified Apr 07 2010 @ 06:11pm
  • Teresa May 01 2010 @ 04:08am Report Abuse
    2046 sampaguita st. sta. ana, manila
    Last modified A long time ago
  • artsaves Jun 27 2011 @ 02:22am Report Abuse
    If your job stops you from spending time with your family and friends, doesn't give you time to go to church and wouldn't let you spend time for yourself, quit the job!

    I used to work in a call center, pls. don't get me wrong, it is a decent job and I was getting a good compensation. However, it always get into my personal life and made me miss a lot like a big family outing on a long weekend and my sister's debut. So I finally decided to quit the job and look for something else.
    Last modified A long time ago
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