Shamillah Wilson, life coach, activist and social entrepreneur, shares her tips on how business women can maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Maintaining a work/life balance seems to be one additional pressure for business women. The various balls that women juggle at any given time could include heavy workloads, navigating the politics of the workplace, and even trying to take care of themselves, their relationships and families. Effectively juggling these balls and maintaining a balance between these different demands may result in further stress due to self-reproach emanating from perceptions of not coping and failing to strike the balance.
One of the things to realise is that balance is not a perfect state, but an active process that starts with intent. At any given moment in time, when there is more emphasis on one area of life, the other area(s) is likely to be imbalanced. Accepting this alleviates the burden of the assumption that work/life balance is a perfect configuration that stays constant. It then becomes possible to be in process (or construction) as it pertains to our managing our lives. It also means that as we change, we learn how to change what it is we need to be in a state of balance. Hence the term ‘balancing act’. Below are my top 7 tips for being in process for a healthy work/life balance.
#1 Make time to check in with yourself
Making time to do a personal check in with yourself is very important as it will allow you to assess what area of your life needs to be readjusted as part of your balancing act.
#2 Plot some personal time
When personal issues arise, it can be tempting to bury yourself in your work. Don’t do it! If you don’t make time for your personal life – your “me” time, including your family and your health – you lose sight of the reason for work or business. After all, we work to have better personal lives, not the other way around. For women especially, a critical issue is to try not to be all things to all people. Focus on your strengths, learn to say NO and be comfortable with asserting boundaries. If you struggle with that, find a coach or someone that can help you work through that.
#3 Unplug from technology
Even if it is one hour per day, start to set boundaries whereby it is no technology time. Use the time to have conversations, to read, to walk, to just sit quietly. But remember to switch off. Messages can wait until you are able to respond to them.
#4 Make taking care of your body and mind a priority
By now most of us already know that it is important to take care of our body and mind. Find out what are the best types of foods and follow a healthy eating regime. I recommend the 80/20 principle. Eat clean 80% of the time and then allow yourself some treats at least 20% of the time.
Make exercise a must-do, not a should-do. It’s easy to cancel the gym, the evening run or the yoga class. Instead, ensure exercise is a priority by choosing the types of exercises that you enjoy whether it’s dancing, walking etc. A healthy body means a fresh mind, which means you will function better and complete tasks in less time.
When you feel filled with fear, sadness, self-doubt or anxiety, do some work on your mental health. I would recommend meditation, reading or even seeking out professional help if you struggle to manage on your own.
#5 Make time to play
Make time for something you love – other than work – and give it the time it deserves. It will energise and refresh you, and enable you to nurture the creative thought that is essential for every human being. Go dancing, have a picnic in the park, listen to live music or learn to play an instrument. If possible, make time for a holiday or even a long weekend as this allows for a replenishing of your energy.
#6 Nurture your relationships
Prioritise and make time to connect with those you love. This is important as it allows you to spend time with someone who will lift you up and support you.
In this day and age there are so many different things that demand our attention. Set up regular dates with family, your friends and even to grow your network.
#7 Start small. Build from there.
We’ve all been there: trying to get it all right at once is a recipe for failure. If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. Know what is important to you and start with that. When what you do does not work, you can always do something else. You are learning and recognising that at times it may not work is an important part of the process.
Hi, I am Shamillah Wilson,
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and am fortunate to have travelled to almost every continent in the world. I am the eldest of 7 children, and my family is an important grounding force in my life.
I am a coach, an activist, and a social entrepreneur.
I believe I am here to unleash the power, purpose and potential of leaders, changemakers/activists, young people, and entrepreneurs. I love juggling several things at once and this makes life interesting and simultaneously feeds the different parts of me. I have an insatiable curiosity and have a passion for adventure, new places and making the most of my human experience. No, that does not mean I have FOMO (lol), but I do believe in living fully.
I am also a high achiever introvert – which enables me to accomplish anything I set my mind to. However, I am also learning to balance it with more joy, connection and the experience of being in the moment. I am most effective as a catalyst, a provocateur and can comfortably and with agility navigate situations across a full spectrum of complexity.
I love the ocean and I find great joy in hiking in the mountains or just spending time in nature.
For more information on Shamillah’s work visit her website.