If you've served in the military, you're probably more disciplined than many civilians. The work-ethic you've experienced is above and beyond what many in the civilian working world have. While it's a strong attribute to have after your transition, it's important that you don't let yourself get carried away. A key element of achieving your professional goals is balancing them with your personal life. It can be easy to forget, but if you don't pay attention to your own life, your productivity at work will eventually drop due to burning out. Check out eight tips on balancing your work and personal life, inspired by The Clarion-Ledger.
Related: To create a personalized transition plan for yourself, and for transition guides and checklists, visit the Military.com Transition Center.
1. Know your company's policies.
Companies large and small should have established policies about flexible hours and working from home. The first step towards establishing a good balance between work and your personal life is knowing the official guidelines on both. If your company allows for flexible schedules, you'll have more breathing room to complete work around your personal activities rather than the opposite. If your employer allows for plenty of time working from home, you'll save time by not commuting as often.
2. Talk to your colleagues and boss.
If you know you won't be around for a certain period of time, let others know. It's important that your colleagues and superiors have a firm understanding of your availability well before you are actually out of the office or otherwise off the grid. It's far better for everyone to know where you'll be ahead of time instead of discovering you're not at your desk when they expected you to be.
3. Take advantage of technology.
Technology is a double-edged sword: it can increase productivity while sapping free time. Do you reach for your phone first thing in the morning to check work email? You might want to cut back on that. Alternatively, if you can get a few tasks completed during a commute it may lighten your load for the rest of the day. Make sure you use technology appropriately: it should aid your work, not monopolize your life.
4. Work from home.
Telecommuting offers a few benefits including lack of a commute, a more easily controlled environment, and the personal comforts of home. While it can be difficult for some to stay focused and engaged while working at home, others may find it a perfect means to balance work with their personal life. Working from home may allow you to more easily take care of personal responsibilities.
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5. Learn how to set boundaries.
A successful career depends on meeting expectations, but that doesn't mean you should capitulate to every single request. While doing favors and working extra hours can certainly help your career, don't feel obligated to complete every favor that's asked of you. Keep a firm grasp on how much work you need to complete to achieve your career goals so that you know exactly when you can say no and when you need to make sacrifices.
6. Stop feeling guilty.
Some professionals might tell you that success in any industry requires exhaustive amounts of work even if it spites your free time. But that isn't always the case. You may not be reaching for the stars at every moment in your work day, but that isn't something to feel guilty about. If you established realistic goals for yourself at work, keep them in mind rather than letting vague ideas of productivity and optimization rule your brain.
7. Establish realistic priorities at home.
Do you need to have every item in your home sparkling clean? Does the sink need to be completely dish-free every single day? Does your floor need to be clutter-free at any given moment? If you don't absolutely have to have a pristine home, make sure you set clear, personal goals on chores. If you can afford a few extra dirty dishes in the sink or a slightly overfull laundry hamper, you'll be giving yourself a bit more leeway when you really need it.
8. Don't shirk private time.
If you're focused on furthering your career or other personal goals, it can be easy to let personal time fall by the wayside. It's not just a danger for overachievers: wasting time can also impact your wellbeing. If you happen to enjoy flicking carelessly through television channels or browsing random websites, great, but it's important that you make time for getting in touch with what you enjoy. Whether your personal time is structured or unstructured, don't let your passions fall by the wayside.
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