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Work-Life Balance: Why You Need It & How to Get It

Work-Life Balance: Why You Need It & How to Get It

Todd Wheeler

Americans, for many years now, have been striving to do more with less. Less time, that is. The challenge is one that confronts nurses, many of who work long hours in high stress environments and then juggle multiple home responsibilities as well.

The following statistics illustrate just how time-crunched we all are in this increasingly go-go society:

• Nearly 50% of all U.S. workers feel overwhelmed by a growing number of job tasks and longer working hours, according to the Families and Work Institute.

• 88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life, according to a survey from Aon Consulting.

• Since 1969, family time for a working couple has shrunk an average of 22 hours a week, according to the U.S. Government.

• One-third of Americans work 10 hours a day or longer, and one in five spend another 10 hours per week working from home, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

• Time on the road is another factor contributing to the great American time crunch. The average commute time is more than 45 minutes per day—and is much longer in large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Taking care of yourself Although nurses are trained to take care of others, these findings make it painfully apparent that as a healthcare professional, you need to take care of yourself as well. What’s the solution? Work life balance: The fine (and elusive) art of finding just the right mix of work, family, leisure and personal time in your life.

While financial demands (i.e. paying the mortgage, sending the kids to college, caring for a parent) leads American workers to log plenty of hours on the job, the life side of the equation often gets the short-shrift. As a result, you’re often left trying to figure out: How can I spend more time with my kids? When I am going to get through all those novels piled up on my nightstand? Will I ever conquer that 10k race? Can I just get a decent night’s rest? What can I do to stop feeling overwhelmed?

To find the time to do all these things, of course, requires making a conscious effort to address work-life balance. Here are just a few things you can do to take control:

Set priorities. If it’s not on your “to do” list, it’s simply not going to happen. So, make it a goal to spend time with your kids, play a round a golf or simply take a nap every once in a while.

Document your life. Tracking every move can help you realize exactly how you are spending time. After analyzing your daily activities, you’re likely to find windows of time that you could put to good use—and, therefore, create more time for leisure activities or rest.

Cut the junk. If the 20-minute water cooler gossip session during your break at work is of no value to you, cut it and use that time to get something done (pay bills, schedule healthcare appointments for your kids, etc.). If you love the gossip session and find that it helps to reduce your stress levels, by all means, keep it as part of your day.

Do what you need to do first. Always get all of the most essential items off of your to-do list as soon as possible. Remember, procrastination is not a solution—it’s just a poor coping mechanism.

Learn to say no. You don’t have to volunteer for every PTA activity, organize all of your co-workers’ birthday celebrations and attend your third cousin’s 25th anniversary party. Determine what is important to you – and do what is important to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Get help. If family or friends offer to take care of an errand or two, take advantage. Also, consider using professional services to carve out some time as well. Housekeeping, concierge and landscaping services can be well worth the costs.

Talk to your employer. Many employers offer benefits that can help gain the work life balance that you need: flex time, job-sharing, telecommuting, part-time work and concierge services. See what your employer offers—and see what you can take advantage of. And, remember, it never hurts to ask for them, even if your employer does not offer certain benefits.


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