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Balancing a career and family is a common concern for most individuals. However, it’s important to realize the smallest of changes can produce the strongest of impacts. I’ve often worked jobs that required evening and weekend hours. The question is: What can we do?

1. Morning Gratitude Moment

When you wake up in the morning, don’t jump out of bed for your workout immediately, or drag yourself to the washroom. Sit up straight, relax, and close your eyes. Say to yourself, “I am grateful for those who supports me, believes in me and is always there for me.” Say this with a deep breath in between each time you say it, and I recommend saying it for a full five minutes. When you open your eyes and look at everything around you – keep that moment of gratitude with you, throughout your day, reminding yourself how you can’t wait to get home to your loving family.

2. Workout Partners

Begin your day by stretching with your family and doing some physical activity together. All you need is 10 minutes. You’ve accomplished a two-for-one: physical activity and family time!

3. Family Playlist

On your iPod, iPhone, or MP3 player, make a playlist of your family’s favorite music. When you take a break at work or feel a negative moment getting the best of you, listen to that music, think about your family and re-gain your focus. Music is a powerful voice and has the ability to affect our mindset: your family playlist will energize your mood.

4. Daily Phone Call

At least once a day call your significant other or your kids and repeat Stevie Wonder: “I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I care.” Let your family know they are always in your thoughts. Even in the face of a big deadline or an important meeting, that moment will relax you and make your family smile!

5. Clarify Your Work Hours & Expectations

Discuss with your boss her/his expectations of you in regards to your time and your position to foster mutual and clear understanding of your role. Should your role involve evening/weekend hours, and tasks such as answering e-mails, working from home, or extra time needed for special projects, establish a strategy and discuss with your boss how to meet these expectations, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and pulled between your family and your job. If you are a new parent, have family that requires special needs or have personal circumstances which require attention, bring these up as necessary, so if you have to leave early, there is an understanding of why this is the case.

6. Socializing At Work

It’s common for colleagues to hang out after work. Say yes when your significant other and/or kids are also busy. This will balance things out more. There are times to have beers with colleagues but there are also times to go home, relax, rent a movie, and simply have fun with your family.

7. Buffer Moment

We all deal with a lot at work and at times might get irritated or annoyed. Remember you are a human being, not a robot and thus it’s acceptable to have a buffer moment for these feelings. Take a deep breath, zone into your happy space that involves your family, think about how your energy can be used towards something else and move on.

8. Yoda Philosophy

As Yoda put it, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t try to leave at 6:00 PM or 5:30 PM just do it. Allocate the last half-hour of your day to do the following and leave at 5:30/6:00 PM:
  • For two minutes, take deep breaths, in and out, looking away from your desk, feeling the moment of gratitude you felt in the morning- turn back to focus on leaving to see your family at home
  • Organize your e-mails, based on what is to be reviewed, what requires follow-up and what needs a response after your breakfast/snack meal- your e-mails are e-mails: not a to-do list.
  • Write-out your to-do list, priorities, goals, and key items for the next day
  • Double-check that you have enough water in your bottle and healthy desk snacks
  • Organize your desk so that:
    • Your to-do list is in front of you;
    • Papers for review are next to your list; and
    • Keep a pen ready with blank paper to jot down extra notes, don’t rely always on your computer- rely on yourself and your mind.

9. Cell And TV-Free Dinner

At the dinner table leave your cell and the television away from the dinner table, and put on music (like Zero 7 or Maroon 5! Ha ha – that’s just me). Focus on your family, not on work, and use this as time to bring all your energy, your aura and your being in the moment with the people who support and believe in what you do, and love you for the ability to do what you do.

10. Your Work Journal

Keep a two-week work diary: try to track every fifteen minutes of your work time. After that, analyze for, and attack any inefficiencies! This will import balance in your day and yield a well-deserved coffee break, a breath of fresh air and time to make your daily family phone call! Does e-mail control you and take you away from your priority list, and thus your work-life balance? Organizational skills are an important factor in how you balance your day, affecting your work-life balance. Get organized and get happy! Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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