“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”
– Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and Writer
Balancing a family and career is tricky for everyone. Each is important to us, and each requires demands on our time that, at times, require the other to take a back seat. Even if you work at home, this is just as true for you as it is for your counterparts back at the office.
When creating goals for establishing a family-career balance, it is important to remember that what works for some people does not necessarily work for others. It’s also important to note that one person’s idea of balance may not constitute anything remotely balanced from another person’s perspective. When establishing a work and personal schedule it’s important to take time to determine what type of balance you are looking for specifically and what the various elements of life and work are that require more balancing than others to find the mix that works best for you.
The basic elements in life that require the most balancing can be divided into two categories: internal and external.
Internal (Mind, Heart, Health)
- Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to rest
- Heart: Giving love vs. receiving love
- Health: Eating, drinking, exercising properly vs. resting and treating yourself to some extra yummies
External (Work, Social, Family, Fun)
- Work: Pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the ride
- Social: Satisfying your social desires vs. taking time for yourself
- Family: Fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries
- Fun: Allocating time for things you enjoy doing vs. making sure you don’t overdo it
You may find that when you focus on external things, like work, relationships, and activities, you end up paying very little attention to what is going on inside your heart and mind.
On the other hand, you may find that if you spend too much time being self-reflective, you sometimes miss out on the experience taking place around you.
Or you may find that you are able to remain fairly balanced between the internal and external elements in general, but want to balance out some specific aspects within each category.
Begin your journey to balance by identifying what aspects of internal and external elements in life you wish to focus on, make more time for, or slow down with and examine if there are certain elements you find yourself more drawn to.
Start small by planning tasks with a list of daily, weekly, and monthly undertakings and be aware when you begin to feel overwhelmed or pulled too much toward one element, so you can step back and adjust accordingly.
In addition to referring to the internal and external elements of life for balance follow some simple rules to keep the scale balanced on a day-to-day basis so you can focus more attention on certain elements as they need, without feeling overwhelmed.
- Create and follow some ground rules. Drawing some boundaries around work is essential to creating a harmonious home life, especially when you work from home. Those who work at home will need to set some guidelines for themselves as well, so they can ensure that they are not working too little or too much, and avoiding distractions.
- Work the right amount. Unfortunately, the “right” amount isn’t necessarily the amount you feel like working; it’s the amount of work that provides the financial, professional, and personal balance you seek. And sometimes it’s hard to know what that is. Keep your overall personal life and professional goals in mind as you set your work schedule or plan personal engagements.
- Get organized. Create systems and routines to keep you organized both at home and at work. This might apply to business-related tasks such as tracking work projects and presentations or improving your time management, or it might mean setting up a system for communicating with your children’s school or creating a family calendar to keep track of everyone’s activities. It can take effort initially, to think out and implement different ways of keeping your life organized.