You fill up your mug, jump in your car and head onto the dreaded commute of the day. Once you get to work chaos and more chaos surround you. Those half-an-hour breaks really do not cut it anymore. By the time you get home late into the evening you really do not have much time for anything but eating and sleeping which seems to keep adding to your waistline like your boss adds to your in box.
When you were just starting your career the conventional wisdom that young professionals were expected to work, work more, and work like crazy until they grow that corporate ladder. The problem is that once you were promoted the work and responsibilities never stopped ending. The situation has become so unbearable that you do not find the meaning in work anymore.
If you are like most middle-aged professionals you begin to question the purpose of your life. Were you given a life to work or is work designed so that you have some means to live? How we answer that question depends on our own personal backgrounds. What can be said with a level of certainty is that without a proper balance you will not be very productive at work or in your life.
The problem is that few of us know what life-balance is and what it looks like in our daily lives. Work-life balance means that you balance the needs of your career with the needs of your personal life. Neglecting one side will affect the other. For example, you will not be very productive in your work if you absolutely hate being there. You will not be very satisfied with your work if you have ignored your family and you find your wife desires to divorce you and child is having serious problems. Any professional should try and balance the following basic needs:
Career: We all need to have some way of making an income to support ourselves and our families. The problem is that most of the progressive professionals spend so much time on their careers that they have little left for everything else. If you are working more than 50 hours a week you need to change your style.
Family & Friends: Each of us needs a social life whether that is with our families or with our friends. There should be enough time to attend children's functions, go out to the occasional dinner, and when a crisis hits. It does not mean we need to have stay-home professionals but that we have the time necessary to handle our home lives and feel good about supporting them. Typical time spent with our families should be no less than 10 hours a week in quality activities. This does not include non quality hours like preparing for work and watching the news.
Exercise: 30% of Americans are obese and this is causing all type of medical and work related problems. There is nothing more dangerous than a lethargic, fast food eating, busy professional that is about ready to have a heart attack. Productivity is decreased through constant fatigue and through a lack of energy. When you work out you feel empowered and invigorated. Busy professionals should spend at least 4 hours a week in cardiovascular exercise.
Extracurricular Activities: When we were young some of us enjoyed sports, drawing, camping or just about anything else. As we got older we found out that there was not always time for these activities. However these activities do add value to our lives by giving us an avenue of stress relief and purpose in life works work. It is recommended that at least a few hours a week be spent in your favorite activity.
Rest & Sleep: Have not your doctor ever told you that you need around 8 hours of sleep a night? Some of us may do well with less and a few of us may need a little more. When professionals are chronically tired they have problems with stress, physical health, mental disposition, and energy levels. Take as much time as you need every night to get the sleep you need. No one can be productive when they are constantly a walking zombie.
We should never forget that each day is one more chance to make our lives more interesting and well balance. Someday when we are retired we are not going to regret that we did not get more accomplished in our work. We will regret that we have not sent any time with our grown up children, then we let the partner of our dreams run away, and we are so poor in health we can not enjoy our retirement. Give each aspect of your life its proper due and you will be both happy and productive.