Four strategies for better work-life balance

Students laughing

Udermann shares importance of laughter and more during interactive event, next planned for Oct. 8

Laughter truly is good medicine — when it comes to finding better work-life balance. That was one of the take home messages during a presentation from UWL’s Director of Online Learning Brian Udermann, who is also an author and national presenter.

Udermann explored practical strategies to regain a healthy work-life balance during an interactive event on campus Tuesday, June 25. The talk was sponsored by Employee Trust Funds and StayWell as part of the feedback received in the UWL Employee Engagement Survey. A second presentation from Udermann focused more specifically on how health can improve work-life balance is planned from 8:30-10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in 102 Wing Technology Center. No registration is necessary.

Udermann shared stories, humor and encouraged others to share their own work-life balance strategies throughout the 90-minute presentation. He suggested working to implement at least one new strategy and discover how that change can make a difference and stimulate further transformation. Here are a few of the tips Udermann shared.

  1. Communication. When your boss walks into your office with an idea for a big, new initiative, consider having a list of the top five major projects you are already working on handy at your desk so you can easily discuss them in the moment. Udermann has used this communication strategy in the past to help supervisors be more aware of his workload. He then has asked, where does this new idea fit into the mix? Often the new idea wasn’t a higher priority than the other projects. He also encouraged communication with one’s family about new opportunities outside of work that arise to decide together if one should take on new commitments.
  2. Try saying no/cut something out. Udermann knows first-hand what it is like to feel overwhelmed by commitments. Earlier in his career as a UWL faculty member, he said yes to serving on more than a dozen campus committees or initiatives at once. As the work piled up, he remembers sitting in his office one day and feeling the tension build and sweat soak through shirt. He later realized that he had experienced a panic attack and needed to cut back. Udermann advised realizing when our commitments have become unhealthy and learning to say, “no.”
  3. Incorporate humor into work and home. This was a reoccurring message during Udermann’s presentation, which included many moments of heavy laughter from the crowd. He offered a “free Italian dinner” (a box of Macaroni and Cheese) as one of his prizes for answering his quiz questions correctly and provoked his own standing ovation at the presentation’s end by asking everyone to stand and then clap their hands. Udermann encouraged everyone to take time to laugh during the day – whether watching an episode of “The Office” or keeping a family humor log to jot down funny things people do and say. He said children can also be a great source for bringing humor into our lives.
  4. Break large tasks into doable chunks. Udermann recalls working on his Ph.D. dissertation decades ago, and the initial challenge of starting as he starred into a blank page on the computer screen. With such a large writing task at hand, he found a need to do anything but write — whether putting in another load of laundry or walking the dog. When faced a major writing project today, Udermann, the author of two books, breaks his work into several manageable sections of writing that he spreads across multiple days or weeks. He says this method makes him more energized to dig into the work.
UWL’s Director of Online Learning Brian Udermann, who is also an author and national presenter.
UWL’s Director of Online Learning Brian Udermann, who is also an author and national presenter.

Udermann noted that a strategy that works for one person may not work for another. The key is trying out strategies and seeing what works best for you.

Other strategies mentioned included prioritizing, delegating, taking breaks, taming email, building in a regular exercise routine, getting more consistent sleep and increasing other healthy habits by parking your car far away from your destination or tuning out of technology at home. Want to learn more? Catch Udermann for his October presentation. Or contact Udermann directly at budermann@uwlax.edu to get regular emails that share common myths related to health and other topics.