Friday, May 1, 2009

Life can feel like a juggling act, here are some tips on how to keep it in balance

This blog is based on a presentation by Dr. Linda Duxbury, held at the WISE annual general meeting on April 29. Linda is a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University and a very prominent speaker.

Some surprising statistics from Canada

From 1991 to 2001, which gender's overall stress level increased by 16% and which by 3%? You will be surprised to know that it's not women's stress levels that increase by 16%... they've been stressed about the same for a long time now... it's the men. Why? Because more is expected of them now that women are more educated and make approximately the same salary. Also men now want to be more part of their children's lives.

From 1991 to 2001, overall stress has increased and the overall life satisfaction has decreased. More and more Canadians give priority to work.

The largest female labour market is in Canada, it's 47% female. That means Canada depends on women to work.

Young people tend to reject work promotions because they are afraid to lose their work-life balance

Elderly care is a big problem, for both genders.

Strategies to help keep your balance

- learn when and how to say no (women run on guilt). Say "no, sorry" and then shut up, or say you have a commitment you can't break. If you try to justify why you said no, it becomes a debate.
- focus on a maximum of 2 things at once and try to compartmentalize (either work or don't work, don't pretend you're working)
- whenever possible, lower your standards and don't be a perfectionist.
- delegate whenever possible, but lower your standards when you do so, and don't micromanage. For example, some men don't do things you want them to do because you don't let them do it their own way.

Relationships and family life

- women are known to use a lot of body language and men are known not to be able to read body language, so don't expect them to read your mind... explain, don't assume.
- be prepared to negotiate
- don't expect a solution to last forever
- don't be afraid to ask for help
- to reduce stress (and especially not bring it home), take time to exercise and do things that don't require you to think about work (like reading non-academic books).
- try setting some ground rules to prevent you from overworking yourself, such as never answering the phone during dinner... or even owning a blackberry.
- get a cleaning lady as soon as you can afford it

What NOT to do

- cut back on sleep
- trying to do it all
- never lower your standards
- use food, drugs, or alcohol to make it go away

Key take aways

- no-one can "give" you balance
- there is no "they", you're in charge of creating your future