Friday 25 December 2015

Work-Life Integration For Women Entrepreneurs

Author: Eileen Lichtenstein

Many women entrepreneurs are integrating work and life which synchronizes efficiently with fast paced technology, especially for millennials who are adapting well to this reality. The new phrase “work-life integration” is blending what you do professionally and personally in order to make both happen. The trending shift (away from work-life flexibility and balance) has happened as fast as development and speed of technology, creating difficulty in taking a step back and coming up with a better solution. Boomers, on the other hand, often find it difficult to step away from the work-life balance they have worked so hard to attain.

There are several reasons why mastering work-life integration is so essential right now, as well as for maintaining personal balance – the kind where you can stand on one foot and not fall down! The balance need not be equal pieces of “the wheel of life,” and compromises can be made without sabotaging your well-being, a happy family life, and relationships. Keeping a flexible calendar and jotting down exercise/gym time, family time, etc., can be helpful in maintaining balance. Taking meaningful time away from work, whether it be a few hours a day, a weekend or a few days, and more vacation, can be wonderfully recharging. Below are a few reasons work-life integration for women entrepreneurs or a variation of it is necessary.

Tips towards achieving work-life balance and maintaining personal balance are outlined below:

  1.  A recent study by the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) found that more than 50% of workers say that work conflicts with life responsibilities at least two or three times per week. Due to this, about 40% of women have delayed having children.
  2. Many entrepreneurs have one phone for both business and personal calls, so it becomes difficult to avoid either. There are more entrepreneurs working remotely than ever before, made possible because of technologies like Skype, social networking, and Google Docs. The work is often from a home office, making it harder to separate work and life, and creating a natural integration.
  3. It’s important to honor your own bio-rhythms so that you work when you believe you can perform at your best, and get involved in personal activities to break up your day. This is one way you can integrate work and life so that you remain sane and are able to accomplish (almost) everything you want to do from both a professional and personal perspective. Taking joy and exercise/stretch breaks throughout the day clears your mind, stretches muscles, ups the endorphins (feeling good hormones) and your creativity factor. 
  4. Keeping a flexible calendar and scheduling things such as going to the gym, writing articles, reading, meetings, and doing research at around the same time each day can be helpful habit, and give you more control over what you’re doing and when.

Whether the problem is too much focus on work or too little, when your work life and your personal life feel out of balance, often times stress, along with its harmful effects, is the result. The good news is that you can take control of stress levels by giving yourself the time to do the things that are most important to you. When life literally is beginning to feel “out of control” or “lopsided” and you feel discombobulated, give yourself the gift of time to restore balance. Consider disconnecting as much as necessary for stress reduction and for the restoration of balance.

Here are some tips to do throughout the day:

  1. Take Cleansing Breaths: Three sets of deep inhalations through the nose (belly rising) and exhaling through the nose, (abdomen deflating) can (temporarily) change your physiology.
  2. Stretch: Practice Office Yoga and the Moving Meditation® Fitness Program throughout the day to release/reduce tension and increase energy. 
  3. Walk: A five-minute walk outside can change your mood and mindset. 
  4. Listen to Music: A mood changer. Eat Peacefully: This aids the digestion and gives you “time away”. Leave your office! Allow Time: Give yourself extra time for the unexpected. 
  5. Smile and Laugh: Humor has been proven effective in reducing stress. When an entrepreneur makes the conscious choice to take a vacation or simply a few hours and disconnect, take heed of a few tips to avoid difficulties in disconnecting and re-entering the integration mode:
  6. Anticipate having a wonderful time. . If something goes wrong or not according to plan, try to see the humor in it and move on. Once you’re settled in and go exploring, allow yourself to “get lost," in other words: don’t have your nose glued to a map. 
  7.  Know key phrases in the language. . Take some downtime every day or a siesta to relax and recharge. . Take extra time for family when you’re visiting.
  8.  Stay unconnected to the internet, phone, TV, newspaper for as much and as long as possible.
  9. Bring home meaningful mementos/souvenirs/photos. 
  10. Compromise as much as possible with your travel mate(s) – After all, you are together to have a good time. 
  11.  On your return trip, try mentally “reliving” the highlights of your time away, like a slide show that you may access in the future for a few relaxed moments. No guilt!

My own life-work balance and integration is always a work in progress! I’ve found as have many working/career-minded Baby Boomers, that maintaining flexibility and a positive attitude and has become easier over the years. Taking time for myself is now a recognized necessity and high priority, no longer a doubtful question mark on my calendar. I no longer feel scrunched in the “sandwich generation”, having raised two wonderful daughters together with my husband (we worked through many rough patches). They are grown now with babies of their own,, living in Europe – a great reason to travel several times a year. Caregiving for my mom is less hectic now after my husband and I helped her move from Florida and got her settled in a nursing home nearby, situated near the beach. Visiting her is gratefully combined with a beach or boardwalk walk, or bicycle ride (weather permitting).

Combining tasks and priorities whenever it is possible (versus multitasking) is a wonderful way to get more accomplished in a short time! Sometimes simply looking at a “to do” list of important "I must do today" tasks in an unhurried, thoughtful and self-brainstorming way, creates doable combinations. I’ve consistently been a fan of you can “have your cake and eat it too” philosophy when that makes sense and doesn’t create conflict.

It is my hope that you, dear women entrepreneurial readers, create happy, productive lives for yourselves, abundant in all that sustains you! I encourage you to pursue your passions and dreams, complete your goals and be grateful for it all, as it is not possible to feel sad or overwhelmed in the same moments that you feel grateful!

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