If your breast pump suction has ever loosened in the middle of a sales call, or you turned in a report with chocolate milk stains, or your partner has given you the evil eye for taking a work call after 7pm, then it is safe to say you are a woman struggling with the coveted work/life balance.
As corny as it sounds, we are all like snowflakes–no two are alike. (Although I’d like to know who discovered that along with their research methods) The first thing to recognize is that everyone is different. What does your perfect balance look like? In an ideal week, how many hours do you spend in the office? Who do you see more–your boss or your friends? These questions will help you shape your goals.
You may have assumed that either your home or your work has to suffer, but that isn’t always the case. Some of the most successful business women are able to enjoy quality time with their loved ones because they know how to maintain a good balance by staying organized, leaning on their support systems, and taking the time to relax.
You cannot simply make a to-do list and automatically improve your life, but these steps will definitely put you on the right path.
Don’t over think this step or try to complicate it. I you’ve read this far, then my guess is that you truly want to make some changes in your life. Chill. Meditate. Pray. Do yoga. Sing. Go for a walk. Just relax. Sometimes we can easily find solutions when we just let go. In between when you first wake up and when you physically get out of bed, take a minute or two to get centered and visualize yourself having a good day. Relax your thoughts, and then get out of bed. Taking time to do this will change the way you see things and help you get one step closer to balancing your life and work.
2. Get organized
Calendars, planners, and goals are your friends. Simply writing down everything you need to accomplish in an organized manner can help you realize where you’re wasting time and where there is room for change in your schedule. Being organized also means getting rid of the physical, mental, and spiritual clutter in your life. Remember–your life did not become a mess overnight, so it will not become completely organized overnight either! Change is usually uncomfortable, but in this case, it is worth it.
3. Develop and/or strengthen your support systems
You know that African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? Well, the same goes double for maintaining your sanity! So many working women feel the uncontrollable urge to tirelessly care for others without first taking care of their own needs. If you’re one of those women who can’t ever find time to wash her own hair or sit down for a meal, just remember the plane crash rule: YOU MUST PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST! Achieving balance requires you to take care of yourself. You need a support network at home and at work. This can include co-workers, but should also include a mentor who has demonstrated the sort of balance you seek. At home, try to avoid negative people and instead spend time with people who care about you and generally enjoy life.
Whether you’re a first time mother navigating the first week after maternity leave, a recent graduate entry level assistant dreaming of a social life or an entrepreneur attempting to defy market trends, there is hope! Ladies, take comfort in knowing that we all struggle with our work/life balances, regardless of our occupation (or lack thereof). Figure out what works for you and patiently work towards where you want to be.