Someone we work with in the outreach department at Ananda Village has suggested a few times that my husband and I give a program on balancing work and home life, probably because we work together and live together, so naturally we had to find a way to make that work.
We haven’t done a program on it yet, but here are a few of the things we do (or try to do) at work to help keep everything flowing smoothly and harmoniously.
1. Find a hobby
Even if it’s difficult, taking extra time to do something completely separate from your work life is extremely helpful. For me, that is working in a garden (among other things). Since I work on a computer all day, spend time digging in the dirt and fixing irrigation lines is very grounding (literally!) and refreshing.
If you have any kind of desk or indoor job, try to find something physical to do outside, like walking or riding a bike. If you have a more physical job, find something relaxing and quiet, like writing or doing puzzles.
2. Make a routine, and stick to it (mostly)
Keep clear, distinct times that are “work times” and do not do work unless it is “work time.” If possible, keep your home and work phone separate, and tell your coworkers to leave you messages on your work phone so that you’re not interrupted during home or vacation time.
Also having a particular time each day when you get up, meditate, go to work, come home, and go to bed, helps to keep things running smoothly. When you have a daily routine, your subconscious mind knows what to expect, and it’s much easier to keep in line and away from random cravings (like low consciousnesses movies and junk food).
Don’t follow your routine 100 percent of the time, but maybe 95 percent of the time. That last five percent will keep you from turning into a robot (figuratively).
3. See everything as service
When you approach your work and home life from the perspective of giving to people, rather than taking, everything actually starts to flow together seamlessly, and you don’t even need to think much about how to balance them. Work is one kind of service, spending time with family and friends is another, and your extracurricular activities are another.
When you think of others, rather than yourself, in everything you do, it all becomes much less stressful, and you see that each aspect of life is necessary and can be fun too.
4. Make friends with your coworkers
This might seem obvious, but if you have a job where you spend a significant amount of time with your coworkers, it’s a good idea to learn to get along with them.
It makes work time more pleasant, plus it’s much easier to resolve disagreements. Your family will also thank you, because you’ll be much happier when you go home if you’ve been spending time with friends.
5. Work is actually school
I heard a talk by Nayaswami Jyotish once where he explained that life is a school, and the work we do during it is ultimately to help us grow spiritually, no matter what our job is. Keeping that thought in the back of your mind when you work can help you to do the right thing, even when it’s tempting to take shortcuts.
If work is really to help us grow, then doing something that might get you promoted, but would be morally wrong, is definitely out, because it would be taking you away from God. And because we cannot attain Self-realization until we have learned all our lessons, you will just have to face similar decisions over and over again until you get it right.
These five tips will hopefully put you on the track to a more balanced work life, but of course every situation is different, and some strategies will work better for you than others. Pay close attention to what makes you feel more free and what makes you stressed, and adjust your life accordingly.
It may take some time to figure out, but having a good balance will help you to have more self-control, which in turn will make it easier to attain inner freedom.