Skip to main content

Tag: lifeworks

LifeWorks October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity

October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity

Ten Tips for Fitting Work and Life Together

Would you like to move beyond feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your personal and work responsibilities? Or learn how to achieve personal and professional success on your own terms? “Knowing how to manage the way work and life fit together is a modern skill set we all need to succeed,” says Cali Williams Yost, an internationally recognized flexible workplace strategist and author of the books Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day and Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You. Here are Yost’s 10 strategies:

  1. Remember that work-life fit is unique for each of us. “Simply put, there is no work-life balance or perfect 5050 split between your work and your personal life,” Yost says. “If you do happen to hit a balance, you can’t maintain it because your realities are always changing, personally and professionally.” There’s also no “right way” to achieve a good work-life fit. Your goal is to find your unique, ever-changing fit, the way your work and personal realities fit together day-to-day and at major life transitions. Don’t compare yourself to others. Find the fit that’s right for you.
    It’s also important to keep in mind that during major life changes — like becoming a parent, caring for an aging relative, relocating with a partner, going back to school, or easing your way into retirement — you may find yourself rethinking how you define success related to money, prestige, advancement, or caregiving. Throughout life, you may need to align and adjust your work and personal realities so they match with your vision and goals for the future.
  2. Harness the power of small actions or “tweaks”. Even small actions can have positive and lasting effects. When you’re feeling overloaded, for example, commit to taking two or three small but meaningful steps toward a better work-life fit. Plan a long weekend away with friends. Clean out your hall closet. Take an online class to learn a new skill. Then do it again and again. Small actions can have a big impact on your sense of well-being and control. To get started, check out more than 200 small, doable get-started actions suggested by 50 work, career, and personal life experts in Yost’s book Tweak It.
  3. Create a combined calendar and priority list. On top of a busy job and home life, how will you fit everything else into your schedule? There’s exercise, eating well, vacation, sleep, career development, time with family and friends, caregiving responsibilities, and just general life maintenance. You can’t do it all. But you can be more intentional and deliberate about how you spend your time.
    First, pull together all your work and personal to-dos and priorities into one combined calendar and list. This will help you determine how you want to prioritize the tweaks — small, meaningful work, career, and personal actions and priorities — to add to your work-life fit. For example, tweaks might include planning all meals and shopping for your groceries on Sunday or getting to exercise class every Tuesday and Saturday. Or they might include researching a vacation one afternoon, going to the movies with your sister, or attending a networking event. Building actions into your schedule makes it far more likely they’ll happen. And you’ll feel better as a result.
  4. Take care of yourself in small ways. Small changes can make a big difference in how you feel. Manage stress during the day by closing your eyes for 15 seconds and taking a few deep breaths. Try to eat more healthfully by adding a vegetable to two of your meals during the day. Turn off the television and your electronic devices an hour before you go to bed to help you get the rest you need.
  5. Preview a skill online before you pay to take a class. In a rapidly changing world, all of us need to keep updating our skills to meet new work and other realities. But going back to school can be expensive and time consuming. Before you invest a substantial amount of money in a class, try to preview a skill online. Watch or listen to any of the hundreds of thousands of videos or podcasts on an infinite number of topics that you can preview by downloading or streaming them. Watch them while you’re commuting, or listen to them while you walk. If you want or need more help than the video or podcast provides, invest in a class
  6. Collect ideas for vacations — then take one. Taking a break to reenergize is more important than ever in our on-the-go world. And many people don’t take vacations just because they don’t know where to go. It takes some research to find a destination that you can afford, and some of us don’t do this until it’s too late. To get inspired, keep a jar or small box where you can store vacation ideas. Every time you hear a friend or relative talk about a wonderful vacation, write down what appeals to you about it and put it there. When you read an article about a place that sounds interesting, put that in the box or jar, too. Once a year, pick a destination from all of the vacation ideas you’ve accumulated.
  7. Get things done while you’re enjoying family and friends. Cook dinner with your kids. When you prepare a meal together, you’re also spending time together. Take a walk with your close friend before work or a tae kwon do class with your partner on the weekend. You’ll be exercising while spending quality time together. At holiday times, plan a cookie exchange and donate some of the cookies to a women’s shelter.
  8. Have 10 technology-free minutes each day with your children. Give the kids time when you aren’t distracted by electronic gadgets. Sit on the floor and do a puzzle. Ask teenagers how their day went, and just listen. Check your email only at certain times of the day, so you aren’t always on it when children need you. When you’re on the phone, turn around and face away from your computer so you aren’t distracted by email. Looking away from the screen will force you to pay attention to the person you’re talking with.
  9. Plan for future caregiving responsibilities. Get a head start if you’re taking care of a grandparent or may be caring for a parent or other relative in the future. Sit down with the adults in your life who may require care. Try to clarify what they want, understand their financial resources, and come up with a plan for meeting their needs and wishes. Try to include in the meeting any family and friends who form a broader network of care, so you don’t have to do it all on your own. Don’t wait for a crisis.
  10. Keep on top of everyday maintenance. Clean as you go, so the work doesn’t pile up. Put a load of laundry in the washing machine in the morning before you leave for work, and put it in the dryer when you get home. Keep a small bucket of cleaning supplies in the bathroom, and wipe down the shower, mirror, and toilet every morning. Set a timer for 10 minutes each weekend and assign each member of your family a task — vacuuming, dusting, straightening up. Check the owner’s manual of your car for the recommended maintenance schedule and write it on your calendar.

For more tips like these, listen to the recording Fitting Work and Life Together on the LifeWorks platform.

Free, confidential counseling for employees of AAA member organizations.

LifeWorks is your employee assistance program (EAP) and well-being resource. We’re here for you any time, 24/7, 365 days a year, with expert advice, resources, referrals to counseling, and connections to specialists including substance abuse and critical incident stress management professionals. If you could benefit from professional help to proactively address a personal or work-related concern, you can turn to LifeWorks.

  • Counseling is available at no cost to you. (Up to three sessions per issue.)
  • To meet individual needs and preferences, counseling is available face-to-face AND live by video.
  • All our counselors are experienced therapists with a minimum Master’s degree in psychology, social work, educational counseling, or other social services field.

Call LifeWorks, toll-free, 24/7, at 800-929-0068.
Visit us online at or by
mobile app (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks)


Mental Health Support: Getting Help for Depression

Many of us struggle to tell the difference between depression and sadness because the primary symptom of depression is pervasive sadness. But it’s important to know that there is a significant difference. Sadness is a normal emotion that is usually triggered by a hurtful, challenging, or disappointing experience, event, or situation. We tend to feel sad about something. When that something changes or when we adjust or accept it, our emotional hurt tends to fade. With depression it’s not the same.

Depression is a mental illness that affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a pervasive manner. We feel sad about everything. With depression, sometimes that sadness is present despite the fact that, from the outside looking in, everything is going well. Depression doesn’t require a specific event, situation, or experience as a trigger. Depression infiltrates all aspects of our lives making everything less enjoyable and less important. Depression can be debilitating and significantly impact our daily life function.

The most common symptoms include a persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness or pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and once enjoyable activities; sleeping difficulties, including trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or even excessive sleeping; eating difficulties, including eating too much or too little; fatigue, a lack of energy; thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts; a change in your mood, irritability or restlessness; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

Steps to take if you think you might be depressed: Some research suggests that the longer you wait or try to handle it on your own, the worse it can become. You can start by seeing your general practitioner, a therapist, or any doctor whose care you might be under. They can assess your need and help support connection to the appropriate resource if that’s needed. Other suggestions include increasing your activity or engaging in anything that brings you pleasure or joy. You can also talk to a trusted friend or relative and try definitely to stay active.

If you’re concerned about a loved one who seems depressed: It can be very difficult and challenging to live with someone that might be depressed. If you are concerned about a loved one, please try to take immediate action. Stay engaged with them and encourage them to see a medical professional. And if you suspect that they might be of danger to themselves or another, make sure to dial 911.

It’s important for people who are suffering to know that they are not alone and that they don’t have to suffer. So if they don’t want to seek help, try to keep them encouraged. Check on them and express your concerns and the benefits of getting help. Hopefully your persistence can support them to taking some next steps. Being concerned about a loved one who may be suffering from depression is very difficult. While you are encouraging and supporting your loved one and trying to help them
take the next steps, it’s important for you to know that there are many resources available. Explore your employee assistance program or meet with a therapist and talk with someone to help you navigate helping them.

Depression is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. There are various kinds of therapies that work. Treatment such as psychotherapy, support groups, and medication management are the most common treatments for depression. Don’t give up, find support. If you think you might be depressed, see a professional as soon as possible.
Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks).

Lifeworks: Overload at Work

You aren’t alone if you often feel overloaded at work. More than two-thirds of US workers suffer from work overload, according to Kelton Research/Cornerstone. Overload can increase your stress and make you feel out of control even if you enjoy your job.

Stress and overload can also affect your productivity, work relationships, and performance. If you are working longer hours or feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do, you may be experiencing overload at work. If the fast pace that was once challenging starts instead to leave you feeling drained, that may be a sign of overload. Learning to cope with your workload can reduce your stress and help you stay productive and valuable to your organization.

Gaining understanding and control of your workload

Here are ways to gain control of your workload:

  • Realize that you can reduce overload. There may be parts of your job that you can’t control, such as seasonal variations in workload. But you can control how you prepare for the peak season. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t.
  • Know your limits. Some people thrive on a heavy workload, while others feel stressed by small increases in their responsibilities. If you’re assigned a project that you know will be very challenging, start looking for help and for solutions before you feel overwhelmed by a task.
  • Review your responsibilities. Has your job changed recently? If you have greater responsibility, you may still be adjusting to new demands.
  • Decide if your workload is likely to ease. Is some of your overload caused by a temporary situation, such as a co-worker on leave? It may help to know there’s relief in sight.
  • Talk about the workload. Rather than complaining to co-workers, talk with a mentor or trusted friend who understands and sympathizes with the pressures you face.
  • Explore solutions to personal concerns that are contributing to your stress. If you have a partner, get his or her ideas on this. Could you hire a house-cleaning service or could your partner take over some of your household chores for a while? If you’re caring for an aging parent, consider using short-term respite care for occasional relief.
  • Consider meeting with your manager or human resources (HR). Your manager or HR may suggest ways to handle the situation or tell you about helpful resources.

Other ways to reduce overload

  • Cut back on other commitments until your workload eases. When you’re overloaded, a good rule of thumb is to drop one old commitment when you take on a new one.
  • Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy. This will help you avoid becoming burned out at work. Make time for friends, family, relaxation, exercise, or spiritual activities that have meaning for you.
  • Focus on leaving work on time. If you tend to work late, start with leaving on time just one or two days a week. A little less time at work may lead to increased focus, energy, and productivity when you’re there.
  • Take vacations. Getting away provides more than a way to relax and unwind. It also gives you psychological distance from your workplace helping you to recharge and return to your job with a new outlook. Employees who don’t take vacations because of work pressures feel even more overworked. And yet, many Americans have days of paid vacation left over at the end of the year.

We all want to feel challenged and excited about our work, and we want to know that it’s manageable and under control. With the right tools and support, you can achieve this goal.

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks).

LifeWorks: Helping AAA Member Employees Make Life Work Better

Enhance employee health and engagement by making sure your workforce is aware of the LifeWorks Employee Assistance and Wellness Program. The LifeWorks program is centered around helping your employees achieve work-life balance, improving their productivity and well-being.

We all face challenges in life. From finding answers to parenting questions or managing personal finances, to getting help with a relationship or taking care of health issues, LifeWorks offers around the clock fast, free, confidential help.

AAA understands that your people are your most valuable asset. Make sure your employees are aware of this resource for fast, confidential help with family, work, money, health and work-life balance issues. Share AAA’s EAP with your team.

Share Lifeworks with Your Team Today!

Download a copy of this flyer to share with your employees: AAA 2016 LifeWorks Information Flyer

Most of us find our jobs stressful at times. Often these feelings are temporary, but sometimes negative emotions linger and may begin to affect your job performance, your relations with others, or even your health and well-being. Learning to manage challenging emotions at work takes effort, but the payoff is big. When we deal with problems before they overwhelm us, we can contribute more to our team and gain a greater sense of control and effectiveness — both at work and outside of work. You can take steps to become more aware of your emotions and to manage them more effectively. If you are feeling stressed at work, the following tips can help you cope:

  • Recognize your emotions in their early stages, before they feel out of control. By reviewing your day’s activities and the feelings they caused, you may discover the source of difficult feelings at work. But it may take practice to recognize your real feelings. There’s a strong body of research that shows the ability to be recognize and name your feelings will protect you from having outbursts in the future and will improve your relationships. Ask trusted friends and mentors for help learning to recognize and name your feelings.
  • Learn to express your emotions in healthy ways. Have strategies for dealing with difficult feelings in ways appropriate for work.
  • Think about how you managed a problem in the past. If an event at work — like a conflict with a co-worker or an unusually stressful workload — is triggering an emotional challenge, consider how you overcame a similar problem in the past. What worked? What didn’t?
  • Write it down. This can be especially helpful if a problem is keeping you awake at night. If you are having an ongoing conflict with a co-worker, you might write: “Every time we talk, even about unimportant things, we end up arguing. Maybe I did something to offend him once but don’t know it. Maybe ask him out for lunch and find out.” This can help you come up with strategies and keep the problem from distracting you.
  • Build your emotional resilience.Pay attention to your physical and mental well-being. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. All of these will help you find the energy you need to meet emotional challenges. This will help to keep you emotionally resilient and to feel more in control of your emotions and your life.
  • Use your vacation time.Taking time off helps to buffer job stress, research has found. A vacation can also allow you to pull back and gain a fresh perspective on work stress and possible ways to ease it.
  • Maintain support systems outside of work.Talking about your concerns with close friends or your partner can reduce your anxiety and help you keep problems in perspective. Choose someone you trust who knows you well enough to give you honest feedback.
  • Cultivate interests outside of work, including activities with good friends. Remember, not all satisfaction comes from work accomplishments.

For support and more ideas on managing stress and other emotions at work, get in touch with LifeWorks—call to speak with a caring, professional consultant anytime, 24/7. LifeWorks is completely confidential and it’s provided to you at no cost. You can also go to to explore our online resources—short videos, podcasts, and a wide range of articles including:

Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit (username: theaaa; password: lifeworks)

Stay In Touch!

By signing up, you agree to the AAA Privacy Policy & Terms of Use