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Managing work and personal life

Regardless of what your personal life entails, you need to know how to balance your work and life demands. Everyone who works is subject to pressure from the workplace that can impinge on personal time. In an always-on world, people can easily become more attentive to their jobs than the other aspects of their lives; after all, work affords us the opportunity to provide for ourselves and others.

Work demands are somewhat easier to manage if there aren’t a lot of people in your life who are affected by them, but even then, you’re still entitled to a life outside of work. If you have a family or live with a partner, managing your household responsibilities requires as much focus as managing your responsibilities on the job. There are a lot of decisions to be made when it comes to chores, care giving, and budgeting.

The suggestions below may help you devise a solid plan for household management. If they appeal to you, but require a shift in your work schedule or responsibilities, ask your boss or human resource department about your options—after becoming familiar with your workplace benefits, the availability of flexible scheduling, and your organization’s attitude toward work-life balance. If you do your homework in advance, you’ll be better prepared to discuss your needs and make suggestions that align with company policy.

If you are part of a couple, you’ll reap the most benefits if you both think through the suggestions below. You will need to discuss them to create a mutually workable plan. Doing this should result in an improved work-life balance.

What You Need to Know
What’s the first step to take in getting the right work-life balance?
Ask yourself, “Is my life is in balance?” If not, plan ahead. Set aside some time with your partner and/or close friends. The first thing you need to do is establish a specific time that you will spend on yourself and those you care about. Consider what work-life balance will look like to you, given your particular circumstances. Though it is possible to be flexible, as in many areas of life, be sure you do not sacrifice the idea of carving out some time for a social life.

If I can’t change the way things are would a career break help?
Absolutely. If you are stuck in a high stress job that consumes all your time so you are unable to enjoy a social life, think about taking a career break. Taking a career break and staying at home or returning to school or taking that long-postponed vacation is an option whether you’re male or female—as long as you can afford it. If you can take the time, it will be rejuvenating and allow you to return to (or create) a more balanced situation. Consider your alternatives. Maybe you are entitled to a sabbatical. Perhaps you have accumulated a significant amount of vacation time that you haven’t yet taken, or maybe you can negotiate a period of time off without pay. If none of those options are possible, you can find another job with a better fit between its demands and a social life. That change could also allow you a transition period of, say, a month so you can sort out your needs.

What to Do

Weight the Pros and Cons of Your Current Job
Make a list of the benefits for both you and your family. Consider factors such as:
• pay
• friendships
• having a valued role at work
• making good progress in a career
• developing important skills and keeping them sharpened

Next, identify the disadvantages of the job. For example:
• the demand to be at work at least 40 hours per week
• the implicit understanding that you’ll really work 60 hours per week; sometimes even more
• out of pocket payments for childcare
• stress on the job drains all your energy
• additional time socializing with clients after work hours
• extended night time and weekend job preparation is required
• commuting time and hassle
• additional formal job-related study is required for advancement

While you are thinking about your current job, also think more broadly about typical jobs in your field. Are they all the same? Most people will stay with the career they know, but if the demands outweigh the benefits, it could be time to consider other possibilities. There is nothing worse than feeling permanently trapped. Thinking about these issues may encourage you to reconsider your career so that you can find something more advantageous and enjoyable, with fewer constraints.

Weigh Your Personal Life
You may have many roles: friend, sibling, child, parent, partner, homemaker, and hobbyist, for example. Each comes with responsibilities and demands. What are the major burdens on your time, energy, and resources? Answer the question for different blocks of time.

For example, what specific time in hours and minutes do you need for each role you play? What tasks are you asked to perform? It may be that you are asked to care for a family elder and specifically to have dinner with an uncle once a week. That takes time; say two hours a week. Once you see all the time demands made on you, you can determine which tasks can be delegated (to a spouse or child, for example), which can be discontinued (going to the racetrack with a distant acquaintance), or renegotiated (maybe dinner can be one hour a week). This helps manage your personal time in a way that both meets your responsibilities and allows you time for the more enjoyable activities.

Reference BNET courtesy of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica
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