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13 Best Ways to Manage Work-Life Balance for Women

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Managing Work-Life Balance for Women

Achieving the elusive work-life balance is a challenge many modern women face. Amid juggling personal responsibilities and professional commitments, it often seems impossible to find equilibrium.

But is it really unattainable?

Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, renowned psychologist and relationship expert, would argue otherwise.

Through her pioneering work in relationship therapy, Gottman has understood that balance is not about perfect equality but finding a harmony that fits one’s unique circumstances. We can unlock actionable strategies to achieve this equilibrium by applying her holistic approach to the work-life balance question.

This blog post will arm you with proven techniques to manage your work-life balance, paving the way to personal and professional fulfillment.

The Gottman-Style Approach to Work-Life Balance

The Gottman-Style Approach to Work-Life Balance is a holistic strategy rooted in Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman’s profound insights into relationships and overall human wellness. While widely recognized for its applications in marital and relationship therapy, the Gottman method’s principles can provide invaluable guidance in achieving and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

A hallmark of the Gottman method is its emphasis on the concept of ‘shared meaning.’ This approach suggests that our relationships thrive when we understand and respect each other’s dreams and our own. Applied to work-life balance, the concept urges us to understand and honor our personal and professional aspirations equally.

For example, someone may have a professional goal to become a top executive in their field. Simultaneously, they might have a personal dream of having a close-knit, loving family. The Gottman-Style approach encourages us to respect both these aspirations and find strategies that allow us to work towards both rather than sacrificing one for the other.

Another fundamental principle in the Gottman method is the Sound Relationship House theory. The seven levels of this model—build love maps, share fondness and admiration, turn towards instead of away, maintain a positive perspective, manage conflict, make life dreams come true, and create shared meaning—can be translated to the work-life balance domain.

For instance, ‘turning towards instead of away’ could mean making conscious efforts to be present in personal and professional situations rather than letting the stress of one affect the other. ‘Managing conflict’ could translate to developing healthy coping strategies to deal with pressures from work and personal life, and ‘creating shared meaning’ could be about building a life that balances and respects your professional and personal dreams.

Notably, the Gottman-Style approach to work-life balance is inherently empathetic and patient. It recognizes that achieving a harmonious balance is a journey, not a destination, and it encourages celebrating small victories along the way. In this approach, self-compassion is critical. It acknowledges that there will be off days and setbacks, but the key lies in learning from these experiences and persisting.

In essence, the Gottman-Style Approach to Work-Life Balance provides a comprehensive, empathetic, and practical framework that emphasizes mutual respect for our personal and professional aspirations, robust strategies to manage stress and conflict, and above all, a patient and compassionate attitude toward ourselves as we navigate this path.

13 Untold Ways to Manage Work-Life Balance for Women

1. Prioritize Your Health

Julie Schwartz Gottman stresses the crucial role of physical and mental well-being in achieving work-life balance. As women, we often put the needs of others before our own, but maintaining our health should be a top priority.

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Don’t assume it has to involve a rigorous gym routine when it comes to physical exercise. Something as simple as a brisk walk during your lunch break or a short yoga session in the morning can do wonders.

Diet plays a critical role too. Nutrient-rich meals provide the energy needed to tackle our busy lives. Try meal prepping on the weekends to ensure you always have a healthy option at hand.

Gottman also emphasizes the importance of mental health. Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. This could be a short meditation in the morning, a few moments of deep breathing during your workday, or a gratitude journaling session before bed.

2. Set Your Boundaries

Establishing boundaries is integral for a healthy work-life balance. It allows you to categorize your life, ensuring that work doesn’t infringe on personal time and vice versa.

Jane, a high-powered executive who was perpetually connected to her work, attending to emails and messages long into her personal time. The lack of separation started impacting her health and relationships.

After setting firm boundaries—like turning off work-related notifications after 7 PM and maintaining ‘work-free’ weekends—Jane experienced a noticeable reduction in stress and an increase in her personal life’s quality.

3. Delegation and Teamwork

Building upon Gottman’s emphasis on teamwork in relationships, enlisting help in managing your responsibilities can dramatically improve your work-life balance.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with domestic tasks, consider options like hiring a cleaning service, ordering meal kits, or sharing chores among family members. At work, delegate tasks and collaborate with your team to share the workload.

Like a friend who head a department and a mother of two. When she started delegating some of her administrative tasks to her team and hired a part-time housekeeper, she found more time for strategic work thinking and quality time with her family.

Also read: 11 Enjoyable Activities That Couples Can Do Together.

4. Quality Over Quantity

Gottman’s research highlights the importance of the quality of time spent over sheer quantity. This principle is just as applicable to work-life balance.

At work, prioritize tasks that yield the highest value. Use productivity techniques, like the Eisenhower Box or the Pomodoro Technique, to help you focus and make the most out of your work hours.

In your personal life, choose one or two meaningful engagements rather than trying to do a multitude of activities in a limited time. Instead of rushing through a quick dinner, board game, and movie with your children, opt for an unhurried dinner where everyone shares their day’s experiences.

5. Build a Support Network

A robust support network can significantly enhance your ability to manage work-life balance. This network can include colleagues who understand your professional pressures, friends who share similar experiences, and family who can provide emotional and practical support.

Consider Lisa, a single mother working in a demanding corporate job. She built a support network that included a colleague who could step in during a work crisis, a family member who could help with childcare when she needed to work late, and friends who provided emotional support when things got tough. This network was instrumental in Lisa successfully balancing her professional and personal commitments.

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6. Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindfulness, a cornerstone of Gottman’s approach, is the practice of paying deliberate attention to the present moment without judgment. This technique can improve your ability to deal with stress, enhance your mood, and boost your overall satisfaction with life.

Another friend, a project manager who was overwhelmed by her demanding schedule, she was always looking ahead to her next task without fully engaging with what was currently on her plate. However, after introducing mindfulness exercises such as deep-breathing routines, guided meditation, and mindful walks during lunch breaks, she found a noticeable improvement in her focus, productivity, and overall work-life balance.

7. Be flexible

Gottman’s approach to work-life balance is centered around the idea of a fluid, evolving equilibrium. Life’s circumstances constantly change; what provides balance today may not do so tomorrow. Embracing flexibility means being open to reassessing and adjusting your routines and strategies as required.

For instance, you might find that working from home allows for a better work-life balance right now. But as circumstances change, you might need to transition back to an office environment or adopt a hybrid working model. These changes require you to reassess your strategies and make adjustments to maintain balance.

8. Invest in Personal Growth

Personal growth is beneficial for your personal life and has profound impacts on your professional life. This could be reading a book, learning a new language, taking a yoga class, or setting aside time for introspection and self-improvement.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint. Enrolling in an art class doesn’t just give you a new skill—it also provides a creative outlet to unwind and recharge. This can bring fresh energy into all aspects of your life, including your professional endeavors, thereby contributing to a healthier work-life balance.

9. Create ‘Unplugged’ Zones

In the digital age, it’s easy for work to spill over into personal time. Creating ‘unplugged’ zones or periods can help establish a clear divide between your professional and personal life.

Take Jessica, a software developer, for instance. After work, she was often pulled back into tasks by emails and notifications, eating into her family time. After implementing ‘unplugged’ evenings, where she turned off her work devices after 6 PM, Jessica became more present during family activities. Moreover, this disconnection from work in the evenings left her feeling refreshed and ready to tackle her tasks the next day.

10. Establish Realistic Expectations

Gottman stresses the importance of understanding your limits and setting realistic expectations. Trying to squeeze in too many activities or tasks can lead to stress and burnout.

Suppose you’re a team leader managing a critical project while caring for a toddler at home. Expecting to always be on top of every single work detail while being the perfect parent is unrealistic. Instead, focus on what is achievable, learn to delegate work tasks, and seek help at home when needed. This could be asking a colleague to cover a meeting for you, hiring a babysitter, or arranging a playdate so you can get a few uninterrupted work hours.

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Remember, achieving a healthy work-life balance is a personal journey that requires patience, self-awareness, and adaptability. It’s about finding harmony that aligns with your unique circumstances and needs. Be kind to yourself along the way, and don’t forget to celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

11. Negotiating

Negotiation is not just for boardrooms. It’s a critical skill for managing work-life balance. It involves negotiating with your employer for flexible working hours, negotiating with your partner or family for sharing responsibilities, or even dealing with yourself to prioritize tasks and set realistic goals.

Remember Amanda, a marketing manager who was struggling with her rigid work schedule and parenting duties? She successfully negotiated a flexible work arrangement with her boss, allowing her to manage her work and home duties effectively.

12. Use Technology, But Wisely

Technology can be both an enabler and a disruptor of work-life balance. On the one hand, productivity apps, digital calendars, and remote communication tools can help manage tasks more effectively. On the other hand, constant connectivity can blur the lines between work and personal life.

Take a cue from Natalie, a freelance designer who effectively uses technology to manage her work-life balance. She uses productivity apps to manage her tasks, a digital calendar to schedule her work and personal commitments, and turns off work-related notifications during her time.

13. Practice Self-Compassion

Gottman’s work consistently highlights the importance of self-compassion. In the quest for work-life balance, there will be days when things don’t go as planned. Instead of being hard on yourself, practice self-compassion.

Consider the story of Rachel, a school teacher and mother of three. Despite her best efforts, there were days when she felt like she was falling short, either as a teacher or a mother. However, when she started practicing self-compassion, acknowledging that she was doing her best and it was okay to have off days, she noticed a significant decrease in her stress levels and a better work-life balance.

Conclusion

By implementing these strategies, you will improve your work-life balance and enhance your overall well-being and satisfaction with life.

Achieving work-life balance is not a one-size-fits-all journey. It’s about finding what works best for you. Julie Schwartz Gottman’s principles emphasize compassion, understanding, and flexibility – critical tenets in navigating the journey to equilibrium.

Start with small changes, observe how they impact your life, and adjust as needed. With time and patience, you’ll find your unique balance, leading to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. So why wait? Start your work-life balance journey today!

Quick Recap:

  • Prioritize your health.
  • Set your boundaries.
  • Delegate tasks.
  • Focus on the quality of time spent, not the quantity.
  • Build a support network.

I want you to know that you’re not alone in this quest for balance. Please share your experiences, ask for help, and inspire others toward work-life balance. Your path to a more balanced life starts now.

 

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