For most of us, juggling the demands of a personal life and a career is an ongoing challenge, especially during times when many companies have downsized their ranks – and expect more from those who remain. In fact, achieving the elusive “work-life balance” may feel like an impossible goal, especially if you’re someone who strives to give everything 110%. In today’s “do more with less” mantra, how can we manage families and careers, and feel satisfied with both?

Whether you’re the CEO of a major corporation, a small business owner looking to start a blog, a college student juggling two part-time jobs, or a Lancaster freelance writer like me, an individual’s best work-life balance will vary over time. For instance, the ideal balance when you’re single will undoubtedly change when you have children or marry. However, a few small steps in the right direction can go a long way to saving your sanity both at home and at work.

First things first: Prioritize.

Keep in mind that not everybody wants balance, but if you do, you have to force yourself to edit yourself both professionally and personally. Think about everything in your life that competes for your time, and decide what to discard and what to keep. If you’re a volunteer at four nonprofit organizations, choose the one that matters most to you, focus on it, and stop flinging your attention at all four.

Focus your attention on things that matter to you, and do your best to avoid the extraneous stuff. Remember that this is a discipline that doesn’t come too naturally to most of us, so it may take some time, patience, and practice before you achieve your ideal balance.

7 Ways to Achieve a Happier Work-Life Balance

work-life balance

1. Learn your company’s policies. Inquire about your company’s policies on working from home and flextime. If you’re a strong performer, you likely have a better chance of negotiating an arrangement that works for everyone involved.

2. Communicate. If you know in advance that you won’t be available for certain hours during the weekend or weekday because you’re handling family matters, let your colleagues and manager know. Chances are that you’ll have their full support, which can make your life that much easier in times of trouble.

3. Telecommute. If possible, ask your employer if telecommuting is an option. This should help to free up some valuable hours, especially if your job is far from your home. You’ll be able to use the extra hours to meet personal responsibilities and focus on work for long stretches at a time, which ultimately increases your productivity.

4. Use technology to your advantage. Technology should help you manage your life and make it easier, not control it. Set aside certain times throughout the day such as during family dinners, for example, when you ban technology. Doing so will give you the opportunity to fully focus on your family or friends.

5. Fight the guilt. Superman – and Superwoman – are fictional characters. You’re a real person, and you can’t devote 100% to every single thing you do. If you bail on a colleague’s going-away party or miss an occasional soccer game, stop feeling guilty.

6. Learn to say “no.” Remember that you can respectfully decline offers to serve on an extra committee at work or run the PTA. Once you finally stop doing things out of guilt, you might be surprised to find more time to focus on the activities that truly make you happy.

7. Protect your private time. Give yourself time to appreciate good weather on your walk to work or dream in the subway as you travel home. If you don’t allow yourself these small pockets of personal time, you’re more likely to become too burned out to fully appreciate any aspect of your life.

Ask for Help When You Need it Most

Whether you need an extra hand from friends and family or you’re drowning in your work and feel like there’s no way out, remember that there’s no shame in asking for help, and this is where I come in. If you’re struggling with your business and simply don’t have the time you need to devote to finding and retaining leads, you need a Lancaster freelance writer on your side to tackle the hard stuff for you. Contact me today for a quote and to discuss the details of your project, and I’ll be more than happy to help.

Do you have any tips for achieving a better work-life balance?