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Posts Tagged ‘Work–life balance’

Do you find yourself running from one activity or commitment to another? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Do you get to the end of your week and wonder where it went? If so, maybe it is time to reestablish your priorities.

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs unloaded. Organizational and time management skills can help youcalendar-1868106_640 be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. David Goldsmith in his book, “Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future” recommends scheduling only up to 60% of your day. That leaves you a cushion of 40% for interruptions, delays and the unexpected. We tend to be over-optimistic about what we can accomplish in a day. This principle applies to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding that balance, but here are some things to consider:

Set priorities… and that means making tough choices… letting something go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child… ask yourself if it fits into the 60% of your life. Does it align with your family’s priorities?

Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the family calendar, check with your spouse to avoid unnecessary time crunches.

Realize you cannot do everything. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have.

Say no. We probably kick oursfamily-2149453_960_720elves more often for saying yes when we should have said no. Such a little word and yet so much power to free up the schedule. There is a great Live Smart Ohio blog for points to consider about overscheduled kids .

 

Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

Sources:

Chapman, S & Rupured, M. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042), University of Georgia Extension, April 2014.

Goldsmith, D. Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future. BenBella Books, Inc., Oct 23, 2012.

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christmas tree

As the holiday season approaches, requests are made to participate in “Secret Santa” at work, office parties, “Ugly Sweater” contests, and for the kids, “Elf on the Shelf”. Add to that list decorating, cooking, shopping and gift wrapping, inventory, and end of year reports at work. That’s a lot to juggle from now thru the end of the year. To help you stay sane, try a strategic approach to reduce stress, while still balancing work-life responsibilities during the holidays:

  1.  Set Priorities– Go through the task of ranking your priorities. Is your top priority family time? Volunteer work? After you establish your priorities, you will be able to say no to events that don’t make the list (or at least put time limits on your participation).
  2. Do a Time Study – For one week, keep a log of how your time is spent. Log general groups of tasks that include activities such as errands, housework, shopping, cooking, and so forth; then total your column times. Did the way you spent your time align with your priorities? If not, adjust your schedule to bring your life back into balance.
  3. Set Limits on Work Hours – This is easier said than done, but if work-life balance is important to you, then set limits on the hours that you are willing to work and enforce them. Maybe that means leaving the office no later than 5 pm, and/or no working on the weekends. As the holidays approach, it’s important to carve out extra hours for all of those seasonal tasks, as well as keeping time for you to exercise and relax. If you’re someone that usually works late hours, communicate the temporary change to co-workers.
  4. Get Help – Is cleaning the house, running errands or baking taking up a large amount of time? Consider sourcing out some of those chores. It may be a better use of your time to pay someone to do a few of those tasks – such as purchasing cookies from a neighbor that likes to bake. If you are not able to hire out, scale back your menu, have a potluck or rethink hosting every party.
  5.  Unplug – Turn off the social media and emails. Don’t check your work emails until you are back at work. If you can’t forgo checking emails, set limits for when you will check work email.
  6.  Get Moving – If exercise didn’t originally make your priority list, be good to yourself and schedule it back in. This will boost your energy level and improve your mood!

Work-life balance is an ongoing process. Keep your priorities on task and just do your best. Priorities will change as your life changes – especially during the holidays. Periodically reassess your priorities and take inventory of your work-life balance.
Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD. Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Donna Green, MA, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/25-ways-find-joy-balance-during-holidays

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Do you believe you are the only one that can do your job? Do you fear taking time off to avoid returning to a mountain of work? Are you afraid of being seen as replaceable if you take time off? Do you sacrifice your health and well-being to get the job done? If so, you might be a work martyr.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, about 40% of Americans don’t take the vacation they’ve earned, leaving about 430 million days of unused vacation. And that’s not saying much since Americans only get an average of 12 vacation days each year, compared with 20 days a year provided in Europe. Other sources also conclude we aren’t taking our allotted time off. A recent study by the Family and Work Institute reported that 36 percent of workers did not plan to use all their vacation days. Moreover, 37% said they have never taken more than a week off at a time.

In order to understand the attitudes and beliefs driving America’s work culture, the U.S. Travel Association enlisted GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications (GfK). GfK asked more than 1,300 business leaders across the country their top reasons for not taking time off. The most common survey responses included:

  • not wanting to return to a pile of work
  • feeling like no one else can do their job
  • one-third reported they cannot financially afford to use their time off
  • one in five were afraid they could be more easily replaced if they took time off
  • only 32% say their employers encourage them to take time off

The trend to put our ‘nose to the grindstone’ and power through even though we’re stressed out is concerning, and often based on unfounded fears. Face time at work doesn’t always equal dedication. Seventy-five percent of HR professionals report that employees who take most or all of their vacation days tend to “perform better” compared with employees who take less vacation.

Bench at lake shore

If Americans used more of their vacation, they could see improvements in their own physical and mental health and well-being, as well as the health of the economy. American’s unused vacation days could mean an additional $67 billion in travel spending as well as more jobs and earned income, according to estimates in a report by Oxford Economics.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health looked at how people feel before, during and after a vacation.

  • During vacation, people felt healthier and had better moods. They also experienced less tension and higher levels of energy and life satisfaction.
  • Interestingly, the positive effects of vacation were found to dissipate within a few days of returning to work. But “that doesn’t mean that one should discount the health benefits of a vacation,” says the article’s author, Jessica de Bloom . “It would be a bit like asking, ‘Why do we sleep despite the fact that we get tired again?’ “

To fend off the depression that can hit when you return from a vacation, author Robert Kriegel suggests you think about what motivates you and plan to have a few things that you love doing on your agenda when you return.

Perhaps we just need some encouragement to take some time off. If you have the sense that your boss doesn’t want you to take too much vacation time, ask what his or her concerns are. Finish your necessary tasks before leaving. Plan ahead for your duties to be covered and coordinate with co-workers. Then let your manager know how you can be reached if necessary. You may find the time off not only benefits you personally, but allows for new perspective and the chance for innovation to flow upon returning to work.

Research concludes that our health declines over time if we don’t take a break from work. Don’t be a work martyr, be a better worker.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Kristen Corry, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Noble & Monroe Counties

Sources:

NPR: Relax! Vacations are Good for Health

Take A Vacation: It’s Good For Productivity And The Economy, According To A New Study

Project Time Off

Many don’t take all their vacation days. But they might be considered nutritional supplements to your professional well-being

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13 December 31 - Work Life BalanceGenerally, it is assumed that if an employee is absent, his or her productivity must be suffering.  Conversely, if the same employee is putting in extra time and skipping vacations, he or she must be highly productive.  But these assumptions are not always true.  A recent study conducted by England’s Manchester University, showed that overworking creates more stress and lessens personal time.  This has a trickle-down effect, and employees are actually less productive than if they had just worked their assigned hours and taken scheduled vacation time.

The phenomenon is dubbed “presenteeism,” a first cousin to employee absenteeism (Named by Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at ManchesterUniversity in England).  Presenteeism, simply put, is when people come to work but aren’t functioning fully because they have physical or mental health problems.

Data suggests that presenteeism is a larger productivity drain than either absenteeism or short-term disability.  Given the seriousness of the situation, employers and employees need to take a proactive stance.

             Here are a few tips to address the issue of presenteeism.

  • Strike the work-life balance.  Achieving a balance means different things to different people, but it’s important to achieve a balance that is comfortable for you and your family.
  • Support and maintain regular work hours.  Working long hours or taking work home on a routine basis is strongly discouraged.
  • Honor vacation time and sick leave provisions.  Make it a habit to use your full annual leave.
  • Plan your day.  Work from a to-do list.  Take 10 minutes each morning to identify those things that need to be accomplished.
  • Recognize your peak energy times.  Do the tough tasks when your energy level is at its highest.  Save routine work for low points of the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep.  Your body cannot make up for lost sleep or rest time because it’s not physiologically possible.
  • Preserve your days off.  Make your days off strictly personal time. Ignore errands and chores.  Focus on yourself, relax and refresh.
  • Eat a balanced diet.  Workaholics are known to skip meals, thus eating poorly.
  • Exercise.  Set aside time each day to give your body the proper physical conditioning it needs.

As you begin 2014, make a resolution to work so you can live and have a comfortable life.  Remember that you don’t live to work.  Don’t make work your life.

Written by:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, PerryCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lindimore, Office Associate, OSU Extension, MorganCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

References

Farrell, P. (2013, May). The Real 800-Pound Gorilla of Presenteeism. Retrieved December 18, 2013 from blogs.hbr.org/2013/05/the-worst-kind-of-presenteeism/

Hochschild, A. (1997).  The time blind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Holt.

Hummer, J., Sherman, B., & Quinn, N. (2002, April).  Present and Unaccounted for. Occupational Health Safety.  2002 Apr; 7 1 4):40-2, 44, 100.

Johns, G. (2009). Presenteeism in the workplace: A review and research agenda Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31 (4), 519-542 DOI: 10.1002/job.630

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1999).  The Work-Family Research Agenda in Changing Contexts. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 4, 382-393.

Lewis, S. & Cooper, Cary L. (1996).  Balancing the work and family interface: A European perspective.  Human Resource Management Review, 5, 289-305.

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