It takes a certain amount of personal responsibility and willingness to be in control to achieve any semblance of a work/life balancing act. For a balancing act it is, as a continual process that must be concentrated on. Like most anything in life that one would really want, it requires some hard work and devotion initially. And the payoffs are tremendous. Why does it seem so hard to achieve though?
The trick is to change the way you think about it. Balance is less about a see-saw kind of framework most people tend to think of, and more about making choices. And the choices being made are about certain aspects of your life and which is more important at any given time. For instance, at one point in your life your career may need the most attention. At another time, it may be family, or just your spouse, or even your friends.
The idea is that by attempting to balance your life you will remain more open to what needs more care and attention at a certain time. Work does not need to dominate every single time. Many people work full days and come home, dead tired and unable to devote time to anything else except getting some rest and ‘zoning’ out. There are two important approaches to consider when attempting to balance your life or make the kind of choices that need to be made by you, consciously and willfully.
The first approach is personal. This includes several aspects of hard change and personal responsibility, such as introspection, maintaining work/home boundaries, sticking to your schedule and delegation. When you start thinking about your life, your job, your family and attempt to inject some flavor of what it is you want into it, you immediately begin to notice ways in which you can improve the ‘mixture’ of choices you make.
Leave work at work by switching off your Blackberry once home, or not taking calls during dinner, or setting aside an hour purely for you and family (any cell phones etc should be in another room) and so forth make a big difference. Sticking to a home/life schedule you make helps a lot as working within a structure is excellent for getting your creativity and productivity levels up, up, up. Delegating at work leaves more time free for the work you like to focus on and do well at. And so on.
The second approach is initiated by you but assisted by the workplace and the manager. Flexible timings are key to the work/life balancing act and is the reason many people opt for self-employment or freelance work of some kind. Companies, also, are increasingly allowing employees to pick their start and end times, their lunch hours and how many of their week-hours they do in a certain number of days (compressed time). Compensation for overtime and weekends and telecommuting are also making it much easier now.