Nurse Work Life Balance

Tips for Work/Life Balance for Nurses

The first thing when the topic of “work-life balance” comes up is…  “Oh that doesn’t exist!”

There are lots of definitions out there… here’s one- work–life balance is a concept including the proper prioritization between work (career and ambition) and lifestyle (health, pleasure, leisure, family).

I’m here to tell you, it is what you want it to be, and it is POSSIBLE.

Q. What is work-life balance?

A. Some think of it as being more of “work-life flexibility”, that it isn’t always equal, it is fluid, it is how you design it, it is NOT a myth, you have to make choices that favor “both sides”

Q.  What are some tips to managing technology and balancing work & life?

A.  I have an iPhone for work, so I essentially could always be “on”, but I do make a sound choice to not always have it with me- I make that an educated choice.  I have unsubscribed to the massive amount of email lists- that is time wasted just deleting (& it saves me money!).  If I have to work on something important at my desk- my email is NOT open.

Q. What do you focus on to maintain that balance?

A.  For one thing, I am in a job- that is exempt- it is not a matter of how many hours a day I work, it is “do I get what I need done, do I meet deadlines, and am I meeting the needs of my team, colleagues and those I serve?”   Some days are long, and then some days can be short.

Q. If you had to pick one thing that you find most important to balance work and life?

A.  For me it is exercise, I must get active MOST days- this helps on both sides of work and life, for work- it makes me more productive, and also- clears my head, if I had a frustrating day- going and exercising helps with my mental state.  I haven’t always committed to this in my life and I know now I should, and there are always exceptions; but it is my goal to a balanced life.  Even just a walk around the block!

Q.  What would you tell new nurses having to rotate shifts?

A.  The one thing I look back on when I was rotating shifts- I made terrible food choices, I ate at terrible times and I made terrible sleeping choices.   Think about how much sleep you really need to be at your best- more is not better.  Think about what you eat- it affects your thinking and how you feel.  I would do it different if I could go back.

Q.  Can you suggest any small things that take little time to alleviate the stressing of balancing life and work?

A.  A few small things- that even would be multi-tasking…   I now turn off the radio in the car 5 minutes before I park & reset my mind for going into work- trust me it helps.  I scheduled meetings over coffee, lunch and walking meetings.

Q.  What do you do outside of work?

A.  This is something that you have to consider and commit to- I read something non-health care, something fun/silly/mindless.  Find a guilty pleasure, or admit you have one, it is okay.  Schedule time in for fun!

I think anyone of us would say- none of us ever stop being a nurse; it is part of who we are- to me finding mentors and colleagues that you can trust to be vulnerable with is a key to balancing as well, you do not have to do it alone!!!! 

And lastly- you don’t require unnatural things from people, don’t require them from yourselves.  Be okay with not doing it all (in truth, I am still figuring this one out).

Life is life, and pretending otherwise only hurts businesses and employees alike.

Meredith Foxx
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Advanced Practice Nursing, Nursing Quality & Practice,
Cleveland Clinic Health System