Five ways to achieve the perfect work-life balance
Can you have it all? As in, can you have a great job and a fulfilling home life?
According to 70 percent of professional men and women across the globe, the answer is yes. In a survey for a March 2013 report from Accenture Research, a majority of executives from 33 countries said they could have a successful career as well as a full life outside the office.
If you haven't quite found that perfect work-life balance in your own house, here are five ideas to try.
Determine your priorities
Identifying your priorities doesn't mean choosing work over home life or vice versa. Instead, it means recognizing both contain many tasks and not all of them should be on your to-do list.
For example, in your home life, you may be a room parent at school, take a few classes at the local gym and volunteer at a nature center. At work, you may be part of an ad hoc committee while heading up a new initiative and mentoring the office intern.
Some of these activities will be priorities simply because they are a basic function of your job or a necessity of life. For everything else, record a log of how you spend your time for a week. Don't forget to include such things as watching TV or surfing the Internet.
Note how much time you spent on the activity and how you felt afterward. Did it leave you exhilarated and satisfied, or exhausted and angry? Items in the former category are likely to be your priorities.
Cull your schedule of unneeded and unfulfilling "busy work"
If you look over your log and realize you are one busy person, there is probably a reason for that. Although conventional wisdom says excess busyness leads to lower life satisfaction, a study published in 2010 by the journal Psychological Science finds that people actually prefer to be busy.
But now that you have a log of your activities, you need to pinpoint which ones are meaningful and which ones are simply filling time. Maybe you volunteer in your child's class because you think you should or perhaps you took on the ad hoc work committee because you can't say no. Eliminate these activities to make room and save energy for those things you truly enjoy.
Have clear boundaries for work
To have the perfect work-life balance, you can't let your work overwhelm the other aspects of your life. And that means having clear boundaries between work time and home time.
Depending on your type of work, you may be able to leave your job behind completely when you leave the office. Other positions may require you to finish up some tasks at home and on the weekends.
In these situations, set aside a specific time to work and once the designated time is done, pack away everything away for the evening. Unless you are on a hard deadline, tasks can probably wait until the next day.
In addition, resist the urge to be "on call" outside of work hours. Unless it is an expectation of your job, save return calls and emails until the next business day.
Outsource and delegate when you can
If you find there is simply no way to keep up on your work without logging in long hours at home, it may be time to outsource some of your tasks.
Unless you are a supervisor, it may be difficult to unload some of your job duties onto others. In that case, interns can be excellent resources. What may be a menial task to you may be interesting to them. For example, interns may be happy to scan trade magazines for you, file paperwork and do data entry.
While it may be tempting to dump all your busy work on an intern, be sure to make this a win-win arrangement. Find out what they are hoping for during the internship -- such as learning a certain skill -- and make sure they have the opportunity to do so.
Unplug at least once a week
Finally, unplugging from your computer and phone is a sure-fire way to avoid having your work overrun your home life.
You could shut down the electronics for an entire day on the weekend or a shorter period of time each day, such as after 7 p.m. each weeknight. If you don't know you have 12 work-related emails waiting in your inbox, you won't be tempted to answer them.
As an added bonus, a 2012 study published in the online journal PLOS One found unplugging and getting outside helps spur creativity. That may mean unplugging can do more than help you achieve a perfect work-life balance; it may also give you that a-ha moment that could take your career to the next level.