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The Real-Life Guide to Work-Life Balance

written by: •edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 9/23/2011

Learn how to stop fighting the demands of career and other commitments and enjoy both more. It is possible to have a successful career and a fulfilling life. You just need to learn to make the best choices. Here's some advice to help you make those choices easier.

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    Work and family getting you down? Are you struggling to find that elusive, perfect-for-your-life balance between work, family, friends and self? Even worse, do you feel stretched like a rubber band in too many directions and consumed with guilt because you think you are neglecting your family or yourself?

    Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is reputed to have said: “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences."1

    There's a wealth of information in that simple statement. Let's narrow it down further to this: Choices have consequences. When you choose to stay an extra hour at work, the consequence is you delay or give up another activity: exercise, family time, volunteer work and so forth. Time is finite and everyone gets the same 24 hours every day. You can make more money by getting a better paying job or working harder and longer. You create more time by prioritizing your choices based on your value system. Which sounds like more fun?

    A new baby can turn your schedule upside down. There are no equal relationships in life whether it is a job or a relationship because life is fluid and ever-changing. A family with a new baby automatically focuses more on issues and responsibilities in the home than in other areas of their lives. The death of a spouse or close friend or relative impacts other life choices in various ways. Moving to a new home, relocating to a different location or changing jobs all affect the status quo.

    The smartest way to achieve harmony in your work-life perspective is to analyze each day's issues and priorities and to make the best decision given that set of circumstances. Tomorrow may be the same or radically different, but if you handle one day at a time and stay focused on the present—not the past or the future—you'll find more peace in all areas of your life.

    In the guide section below, you'll find tons of proven tips, techniques and methods to help you make those crucial decisions between work and health, family and relationships, education and recreation. The good news is, if you get it wrong today, you'll probably have a chance to make better choices tomorrow. Give yourself some grace and learn from each day's experience.

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    Money is not more important than family and relationships. Family Issues: Do They Cause You to Miss Too Much Work?

    What do missed deadlines, tardiness or excessive absenteeism have in common? First, they are warning signs that you may be on the verge of professional suicide. Next, they could be red flags that your work-life balance is out of whack. Here are some easy to implement tips like taking a sabbatical leave or working from home that could salvage your job and your sanity.

    Should You Wait to Move Until After a Job Change?

    Changing jobs or moving to a new home or location are both major stressors. Try to combine the two and you could be looking at a major meltdown in some area of your life. We can't tell you which to do first or whether you should try to juggle the two. We can (and do) give you enough information for you to make the smartest choice for your situation.

    10+ Work Life Balance Tips

    Here are real-life ways to get off the roller coaster of juggling career and commitments and get back on track. All these tips are easy to work into your life and best of all; most of them will cost you absolutely nothing. What's not to like about that? Use the extra time you free up in your schedule to spend time with the family or better yet, indulge yourself.

    It’s a Juggling Act! Keep Work, Family & Education Balanced

    Balancing work, family and life responsibilities is tough. Throw in the challenge of trying to complete or enhance your education and the stress could just put you over the edge. Here are five ways to handle the stressors of work, education and family that will leave you feeling calm and relaxed.

    4 Work Life Balance Ideas for Generation X

    Ever feel like you meet yourself coming and going as you taxi kids to extracurricular activities or aging relatives to medical appointments or struggle to meet the next deadline? Is there too much work left at the end of your available time? Use these four tips to get your life back into focus, to get all the chores and extracurricular duties completed, and to carve out a little me time at the end of the day.

    10 Strategies for Relieving Stress at Work

    Does work really have to be so stressful or that just a myth? The truth is you can learn to enjoy your work without a daily battle against stress. The key here is to identify the stressors. Next, use these tips and techniques to break the stress-work cycle and get back to a harmonious balance.

    Family time is an important part of the work-life puzzle. 5 Stress Management Tips for Working Parents

    While everyone experiences some level of stress while juggling career and other responsibilities, parents are sometimes at a higher risk for stress meltdowns or stress-related problems because they are trying to balance not only their own commitments and needs but also those of their children. In addition, in today's sandwich generation, they can be faced with the issue of having to find time to take care of the needs of aging relatives in addition to their other chores. Here's five solid ways to manage the stress.

    19 Ways to Boost Your Energy: Pros and Cons of the 24/7 Shift Work Lifestyle

    Are you burned out or just bored? Do you need less to do or a higher energy level? By the time you work your way through this list of 19 ways to ramp up your energy level to the max, you'll have so much energy, you may just rival the Energizer Bunny. You'll just keep going, and going, and going...

    10 Ways to Cope With New Job Stress

    Learning new responsibilities, meeting new people, meshing into a new corporate culture; the list of stress-producing factors of a new job could fill a book or two. However, the good news that you can transition to a new career seamlessly when you use these 10 tips and techniques for coping with all the ups and downs of that new position.

    Tips for Staying in Touch With Your Kids Without Neglecting Your Job

    Developments in technology such as email or text messages have sure made staying in communication with friends and family easier and faster. From low-tech to high-tech, we'll give you ideas on how and when to check in with the kids. Just as importantly, we'll give you valuable tips on how to teach kids to discern between a true and a perceived emergency. Hint: being out of milk or corn chips is not a valid emergency.

    Work-Life Balance: Dealing With the Kids

    As your family dynamics change, so do the methods you'll use to handle the everyday issues. From toddlers to tweens to teens, you'll need to have plenty of tools in your arsenal to cope with work and kids throughout your life. Here's everything you need to know to handle the job at any stage.

    5 Ways to Balance Work and Family

    Bringing work home—either in physical or mental form—or taking personal problems to work is a recipe for disaster. Learn how to separate the different areas of your life and prioritize your time allotment to each. You will find that whether you are on the job or at home, your mental health and personal relationships improves significantly.

    Make dinner at home with some easy recipes. 5 Easy Menus for Working Parents

    While you understand the importance of providing healthy, nutritious meals for your family, let's face the facts. Some nights it's just easier to pick up a pizza or a bucket of chicken and supplement it with some side dishes. When your energy level has tanked and you can't face the thought of one more fast food fiasco, here's five ways to put a tasty meal on the table fast.

    The Dual Career Family: Explore the Benefits

    The balancing act of work and home is hard enough for one person. In the dual career family, the rewards can be great, but so are the risks and challenges. Here are four positive ways your family can benefit from successfully navigating the work-life balance maze. We've also included tips on how to balance and to set priorities.

    Nanny Tax Info: Plain Language

    Are you interested in the benefits of having a nanny but dread the chore of figuring out the tax rules, regulations and liabilities? A nanny can be a lifesaver for the working family, but there are some precautions you need to take to protect yourself legally. Here's a straightforward guide to what you need to know before hiring a nanny.

    Quick and Easy House Cleaning Schedule

    Even with both parents working full-time jobs, it's still possible to keep a neat, tidy house that's a joy to come home to in the evenings. One key is to harness the skills and abilities of the youngsters in the household and teach them to do their fair share. Here's an easy to follow schedule that will have your home looking ship-shape in no time.

    4 Ways to Find Free Help for Single Working Parents

    One of the biggest challenges for any working parent is to arrange appropriate childcare. While friends and family may be willing to pitch in occasionally or help out in an emergency, it's next to impossible to hold down a full-time job if you can't make dependable childcare arrangements. Here are some tips and information on four ways to find help.

    10 Creative Ways to Keep More of Your Hard-Earned Money

    The goal of balancing your career and commitments is to have more time to enjoy the results of your hard labor: your money. Since you've gone to all the trouble to work hard to earn it and probably sacrificed some family time to do so, you deserve to keep as much of it as you possibly can. Here are 10 ways you may not have thought of to keep your expenses low and your income high.

    Taking time for yourself to stay centered helps relieve stress. 20 Ways to Fit Exercise Into Your Work Schedule

    You know it's important to be physically active and exercise, but you're just too tired at the end of the day to face the thought of the dreadmill (oops, treadmill!) or the gym. Besides, you still have to fix dinner, oversee homework and bath time, and tuck the children into bed. Who has time for exercise? Before you grab the remote and collapse on the couch, check out these incredibly easy and simple ways to work a little movement and motion into your daily life.

    Work Related Stress – Is It Affecting Your Health?

    Does your head ache, your eyes itch and your stomach feels uneasy? It could be the onset of a cold or flu, but it could also be the stress of work and family making you sick. Sleep disorders, digestive upsets and even outbreaks of hives are often the way that the body reacts to a stress overload. Learn more about the dangers of stress and how you can safeguard your health.

    My Two Workaholics - Do You See Yourself in One of These Examples?

    In this tongue-in-cheek look at the lifestyles of some famous television workaholics there is a hidden nugget of wisdom. While we may admire a larger than life overachiever like Jack Bauer or Captain Samantha "Sam" Carter, are they really the type of role models we want for our lives? Learn more about workaholics and how to spot them. Who knows? That workaholic in the mirror just might be you.

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    Why Don't You Write Us?

    Drop a line and let us know what you think! By now, you've probably realized that your health, relationships and job satisfaction are directly proportional to the choices you make about your career and your other life commitments. We've tried to provide you with a well-rounded collection of advice, tutorials, tips and techniques to help you make better decisions and to make your journey a little easier.

    If there's an area we've missed or more information you'd like on a particular subject, let us know. We'll do our best to find out what you need to know and get you a timely response. Just scroll to the bottom and leave us a note. (We'll be waiting to hear from you!)

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