It is imperative that you simplify your work life, because you spend more time at work than anywhere else.
Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves. ~ Edwin Way Teale
Aside from sleeping, most of you spend more time at work than any other place. This is why you need to focus on how to simplify your work life. In order to find more time in your life for that which brings you value, and that which will heal your body-mind-soul, you need to take a look at your work life balance.
One of our sorry facts of
modern life is that it requires two incomes for a household to make it.
Or does it really? Are two incomes required because you want so
many things? Is your work life balance off? Some folks believe that
when women started entering the workforce en masse, that it drove up the
price of homes and most other things – all that extra money flowing
around the house. This makes sense to me. As a result it almost made
it impossible to stick to only one income.
How in the world did past generations survive on one income? Was it the lower cost of living? Or was it less consumerism? Did technology vault us into an unsustainable world? Is the standard of living getting so high that it is not maintainable? Will we really live in a world where only the super wealthy can have the good life? If you simplify your work life can you change all this?
Perhaps it was a shift in values that led to a snowball effect that no one could ever have predicted. When women wanted to be liberated, instead of understanding their value, they assimilated the belief that value meant earning money. Money meant power at that time frame. The movement was imperative to open up choices and worlds that were not available to women before then.
The money was nice. The things were nice. The money raised the standard of living. It all felt great. And slowly and insidiously the body-mind-soul cost of obtaining and maintaining also became great. Add to the shift, a burgeoning world economy where more and more things are now available with just a click, from anywhere around the world.
The newest generation may be ready for another shift that may be necessary for their very survival. It is never too late to re-examine your values and your need to work. If work becomes only a means to earn money and obtain things, work will always be work. As my friend says, if work was fun, they would call it play! If this is true, how can we simplify our work life?
The ultimate would be a vocation that was your avocation – your passion or one you did for the sheer enjoyment of it. Then perhaps you would not have to simplify your work life at all. If you do not know the value of work outside of the money, could you re-examine yourself to discover what truly is your passion? If Life is a Journey and you have not yet found your passion, spend more time with yourself. The answers are within you, stored in your body for you to discover. Your likes and your desires are stored in you, waiting for you to discover. As you find yourself, the process to simplify your work life will take care of itself. You will have new desires and new goals to keep you focused on what is important to you.
In the meantime, on your journey – breathe. Know that if you desire it, change awaits you. If your current job is driving you crazy, consider cutting back on the hours if you can to improve your work life balance. Talk to your boss about the time you are spending and gently request more help, or discuss re-balancing your current work priorities. If your boss is non-empathetic, consider looking for a boss who is. See if you can be reassigned in your current company, or a sister company. You will have to simplify your work life in your current job somehow or face harder choices.
Ask your boss if you can work a day or two from home. Hopefully you have earned his or her trust that telecommuting is an option to simplify your work life. The time you save commuting and getting ready for work is time for you.
These are effective methods you can try to simplify your work life. You might be surprised at what happens if you just ask! Bosses may be more flexible as workers have to work harder with few people as a result of downsizing.
Did you ever notice there are certain employees who always have a family or health/illness reason to leave work early? Did they ever get fired? Granted, their co-workers get annoyed, and they may not be the best employees. But you can create your own work life balance in a positive way. You can create reasons to leave work early, like this: You just had a great invitation to join a friend who has the best cabin by the lake, or it’s your anniversary, or your child’s 1st birthday and so on. Just make sure you go the extra mile when you are at work. Skip an occasional lunch or stay late occasionally to make up for the time off. You can rebalance your work life if you try. Try to simplify your work life in this manner, by creating a flexible and more balanced work week.
When my stepson was in high school he ran cross-country. In order to keep his work life balance, my husband was bound and determined to attend his track meets, despite the fact they were held at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. He went into his boss’s office one day, and instead of asking he told him, ‘I’d like to inform you that I will attend every track meet that my son runs this season. This company always says that family is more important than your job, so I am going to do this.’ He worked for a company that stated they have a family-friendly philosophy. My husband held them to their policy and attended each and every meet over the three years his son was in track. My stepson later told my husband, that his support of him meant GOBS to him at the time and in later years.
A simple exercise to help you understand if you need to make more work life balance is to sit quietly for a while. Center yourself and focus on your breathing. Place your hands over your heart. Ask you heart the question – whatever it is you want to know, like, ‘Is it time to think about another job?’ Listen to your body. If you get a warm feeling anywhere, you have your answer – it is ‘yes.’ You want to make the change, but you may be afraid, etc. If you feel in your body instead, a painful twinge or a turn in your stomach, perhaps now is not the time to consider a big change. Usually these uneasy feelings are related to fear of change, fear of loss of income and fear of insecurity. If you want to simplify your work life, you may have to work through the initial unpleasantness until for the better outcome.
If fear of change is so overwhelming that you cannot do it, you may have to suffer longer until you truly can’t deal with it anymore. Key indicators of needing to make a switch in your job:
The only way to hear your body’s message and understand what your heart really wants is to spend a lot of time going inward through your Body Window and trying to re-discover what it is you need to hear. You can do this through Meditation or Centered Prayer, Yin Yoga and other Intuitive Movement practices. In my years working in occupational health and dealing with burnt out employees, they often really suffered.
I had one employee come to me who had no real idea what was happening to her. She only knew that she was horribly ill, and she thought she was mentally ill. Her work life balance was so out of whack that she really was physically ill. She was near physical and mental collapse. Her body-mind-soul was ill. Fortunately we were able to get her onto medical leave to help her heal. When she returned to work she looked like a different person. She recounted her experience with herself, how she did what ever she wanted, took long reflective walks and recharged her spirit.
She had to re-learn how to spend make for herself, to simplify her work life and heal her body-mind-soul.
I hope you do not let yourself get so far into despair. Believe me when I tell you that your employer really truly wants to see you well. Well and happy employees are productive employees. No company wants to see you reach the breaking point where you are unable to function. Taking leaves does the company no good. Stay ahead of yourself by taking the time for yourself for Meditation or Centered Prayer and Intuitive Movement to learn where your personal soul issues are. It will do your body-mind-soul good! Make it a personal commitment to simplify your work life as soon as possible, especially if you dread going to work.
It is a really bad practice for companies to allow employees to cash in their vacation time, in lieu of the time off. Please don’t do this to yourself if you have the option. Take the vacation. Simplify your work life wherever you can and take as much time off as you can. We are the only nation that does not understand the value of time off. When you first take a job negotiate more time off if you can, even if you have to take a slightly lower salary. Keep your work life balance in check so you can spend more time for relaxation and reflection to find health and healing for your body-mind-soul!
Most companies are recognizing the importance of work life balance. They provide wellness centers with massage therapists, fitness equipment, and classes for body-mind-soul awareness. Take advantage of them. Sometimes it is only you yourself who is your own worst enemy.
Studies now show that there is an association with work life balance and reduced absenteeism. Reduced absenteeism helps companies increase worker satisfaction by not having to pull from the other staff on short notice to cover the absent employee’s shifts. Having to cover for another’s absence on short notice is often identified as a major cause of job dissatisfaction, stress and desire to change jobs. Simplify your work life to stay healthy and happy so you don't have to call in sick. Happy employees are productive employees. Reduced absenteeism improves the employees overall quality of life. Keep your work life balance so that you don’t get ill!
Wellness days are the best concept. Some employers are now rewarding good employees who do not call in for physical illness or for mental health. They give wellness days – a paid day off to go play or do whatever you want! If the wellness days are in sufficient number, employees can really benefit in their mental health, and therefore the employer benefits. Happy employees are productive employees! Good employers understand that if they help you simplify your work life they have better employees!
You will be amazed at the pick-me-up you will feel if you just take a few minutes to clear the clutter in your desk. This is the easiest way to simplify your work life. Try to at least organize the mess if you feel unable to toss anything out. Commit to keeping your paper files organized. Or get rid of them altogether if you can to simplify your work life even more.
Keep your email cleaned out too. You can organize emails into folders according to sender, or topic or project to keep your inbox empty. When you open an email, don’t just close it without an action. Decide if you can delete it, save it to a folder (create folder if needed) or need to respond to it. Then take the action immediately. You will save time. Each time you have to re-open that same email, you will have to make the decision anyway, so do it the first time. Then you won’t have to spend time twice to make the decision. You will be surprised how much this can simplify your work life.
Decide to check your email only twice a day, and allow time for each action for each email. Otherwise email is a huge diversion to keep you from getting other work done. Simplify your work life and make an affirmation NOT to let email control you.
All of us have overwhelming moments when we are at work. We may instantly react to a boss’s request that we feel is unrealistic. We may have recurring conflicts with fellow employees and so on.
You know where your hot buttons are. I strongly recommend you read and practice the 90-second technique in How Emotions Affect Our Body – Feeling vs. Denying Your Emotions. If you learn how to do this you will be able to better cope with your situations. If you cannot cope after all your efforts, it is an indication to you that it is time to move on. If you suffer from the symptoms I describe above, it is time to make changes or your health is going to suffer. Finding true work life balance is way more important than getting ill.
I teach many breathing techniques to help you with your stress. You can find them at my Remember to Breathe tier of articles.
Commit to finding your Inner Self and its message. Commit to the journey for health and healing of your body-mind-soul (See Life is a Journey). Simplify your work life in every way possible so you can do so!