How to Have it All

Ask someone if he or she wants to “have it all” and the likely response would be a resounding, “Yes.”

But what does it really mean to “have it all”?

It could be argued that having it all means striking a healthy balance between work and life.
That’s challenging during tough economic times when many people feel the need to put in more hours at work in order to retain their job or keep a business afloat. More hours spent working means there is less time available to spend on hobbies or leisure. This puts work/life out of balance.

Also, there was a time when the lines drawn between work-life and home-life were obvious. Among other factors, technologies that facilitate always being “on the clock” have blurred those boundaries and made it more challenging to keep a healthy work/life balance.

And North Americans already spend more time at work than people in other developed countries. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), they spend almost 30 more hours per year at work than the average of the nations surveyed.

Which countries are in the Top 10? The following have the best work/life balance:

  1. Denmark
  2. Norway
  3. Netherlands
  4. Finland
  5. Belgium
  6. Switzerland
  7. Sweden
  8. Germany
  9. Portugal
  10. France

Do your part to help us crack the Top 10, try combining the strategies below to help restore the balance in your life.

“Underbook” your day. Instead of cramming appointments into every last minute, leave time on either side of those commitments. That leaves time to deal with the unexpected or enjoy the occasional free time that shows up. Just because you have eight hours to work doesn’t mean you can book eight hours of work. Once you do that, you are already behind, with no time to answer the phone, take a potty break, or breathe. Give yourself some “wiggle” room by scheduling only 60 – 75% of your day.

Get help. It can often feel as though you are the only one capable of performing a task or completing a project, but that’s rarely the case. Enlisting the help of others helps lighten the load and lowers stress levels. Yes, you have tons of things on your to do list, they need to be done, but you don’t always have to be the one to complete them.

Let it go. Will the earth stop turning if that one email goes unanswered at the end of the day or a dish doesn’t get washed until tomorrow? Unless you’re in the health care profession, rarely are the things we do at work a matter of life or death. Know when to prioritize the important tasks and let go of those things that really don’t have much impact on your life.

Choose your cliché. Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short. Remember, clichés are clichés for a reason — they contain pearls of truth. At work, take time for the essentials — drink water, eat healthy meals, take breaks — but also go to the office party, talk to your coworkers for a few minutes, take a short walk outside. Remind yourself that is there more to life than work.

Find a new job. Sounds drastic, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of changing careers, find a less demanding job in the same field. That could mean more free time and less stress. Or, why not ask for a demotion? Finding a new position within the same firm but with fewer responsibilities could be a win-win situation: you get more balance in your life and the company saves money on hiring and training.

When it comes to having it all there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success. But it’s also true that finding that elusive balance between life and work can be accomplished, if one is willing to make the effort.