By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
In life, it's easy to get out of balance and out of rhythm. As much as we try to balance each area of our lives, we easily find that with a lack of self-control, we can become out of control in every area of our lives. To maintain a healthy spiritual, mental, and physical well-being, it is important for us to strike a good work-life balance. As someone who works from home, it is easy for me to pick up the computer and work after hours. This may seem innocent, but the more my work life interferes with my life outside of work, the easier it is for me to allow my work to become an idol in my life. If you are someone who struggles with the same work-life balance, there's hope.
Here are some ways I'm able to strike a good, healthy work-life balance:
1. Set Boundaries
First, I set good boundaries, though boundaries can be difficult to master. I first analyzed what a balanced work-life looks like. I realized I do best in the morning, so I made sure my work was done between the morning hours of 8 and 12. I saved the easier tasks of the day for the afternoon because I know that's when I begin to get tired and I'm not at my best.
I also allow for incentives when I need to take a break. For example, I watch a TV show or eat something if I've been at the computer for too long. Knowing my body, I realized I need breaks about every two hours. Knowing this about myself and working with my natural rhythms helps me to be the most productive. After every two hours, I get up from my computer and make a snack before returning for the rest of the work day. By giving myself shorter goals to work with, I am more productive because I know I only have to be there for a certain amount of time.
I also allow myself a break from screens after a certain time in the evening. Sometimes I'll use the extra hours to get ahead for the week. But for the most part, I stop doing any sort of work after 5:00 p.m. This allows me to get some rest and begin my nighttime routine so I can get a good night's sleep. Knowing I've been productive is very helpful for me to take a break at night. If I waste a lot of my time and don't get the things done that I want, it's easier to want to work late to compensate, but when I force myself to be productive in that four-hour window, I get more done and feel more secure to put down the computer at the end of a long day.
2. Enjoy Relationships
Second, I use that window after five to enjoy relationships. Relationships are key to a healthy well-being. I talk to my husband to catch up for the day. This helps us bond as a family and allows us time to unwind, learn something new, or escape through the pages of a novel.
3. Engage in Hobbies
Third, I engage in hobbies. I collect 80s memorabilia, so I use the time at night to unwind by browsing eBay or going to thrift shops on the weekends to find any 80s treasures I may have missed. Having a hobby I enjoy helps me to relax and take my mind off of the issues plaguing me throughout the work week. I also love yard sales and participate in those frequently on weekends as well, which gives me an incentive to have a productive work week.
4. Complete Most Difficult Tasks First
Fourth, I do my most difficult task first thing in the morning. While there are moments when I dread doing this, it has helped me to know that I can get the hardest parts of my work day completed before lunchtime. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when the day is done and I know I have completed something that I didn't want to do. It brings God honor when I manage my time wisely. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
By being a good steward of my time, I not only honor God with what I'm doing, but I also honor myself by allowing myself the joy of a good, productive workday.
5. Have Background Noise
Fifth, because I sometimes get distracted, I listen to music or have the TV on in the background while I'm writing. Although this sounds impossible to many people who can't multitask, I'm at my best when I have background noise with good music or a TV show that I know well so my mind does not wander. If my mind wanders, it wanders to listen to music or watch the television. If I don't engage my mind and allow it to multitask, I can easily get distracted and surf the Internet when I should be working.
6. Take Necessary Vacations
Sixth, I take vacations when necessary. Although every year is different in terms of finances, whenever I take the day off to clear my mind, God always doubles my productivity. God rested from all his work on the seventh day. If God knows rest is needed, then we should practice normal resting patterns as well. I've also learned that I have a hard time resting. Sometimes it takes me several days to wind down from all that I've been doing. When I'm constantly distracted, I get a blank journal and I write down all the things that are on my mind. It eases my mind to know these things are written down and that they will get done in the quickest possible manner. Although I don't need to travel to have a vacation, it is best when I get out of my element and go somewhere else to focus on the Lord. This helps my mind relax and unwind from all the stress.
Striking a work-life balance is not always easy. Not everyone works on the same timeline as me, and when I'm off, other people could be working. I must be firm and let them know what my boundaries are and when the earliest is that I can complete their task. In every situation where I have rested appropriately, stewarding my time and body in a way that honors him, he has given me more work and opportunities to serve him. When I allow my day to yield to the Spirit, I find that the best task I do is not simply about completing work on a to-do list but rather serving God in such a way that I can be an instrument to proclaim the gospel.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Delmaine Donson
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.