This is the first post in a Personal Development Series called “10 Things You Can Start Today”. This article focuses on the balancing act we all face between work and life.
Personal development is about taking time to make changes in ourselves or our lives. It’s an investment of time, energy, thought, emotions and intentions to improve.
A little history
Work-life balance was first talked about in the mid-80’s, when the trend of working more than 40 hours per week was on the rise. It became the norm for many people. Fast forward 30 years, and many professionals talk about a 50-hour work week as “taking it easy”. Clearly, the memo about finding work life balance didn’t get to everyone, but Millenials are beating the “more fun, less work” drums pretty loudly. It’s a concept with staying power.
Finding work-life balance is about identifying the happy middle ground that allows us to feel successful in our work and engaged in our personal life. Like any balancing act, there’s always a little sway to one side and back to the other – some give and take. Keeping things entirely equal is impossible, but keeping things in harmony is the goal.
Write down your priorities.
Figuring out what’s important in your work and your personal life is the only way to put your focus on the things that deserve your time and energy. “Cut the fluff!” is something that I tell myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. (Yes, I actually do say that. It’s fun. Try it.)
Say “no” a lot more often.
If you’re the “go-to” person at the top of the list you’re doing a lot of extra work, either at your job or at home. Try delegating some of that, or at the very least, give yourself a break and just say “no” more often. If it’s important enough, someone else will pick up the task.
Avoid distractions at work.
We’re all guilty of procrastination from time to time, but loss of focus due to distractions is the biggest time waster. Don’t get lost in your browser, emails, updates or social media. Don’t get into long discussions with co-workers. Keep distractions at a minimum and your efficiency will increase, meaning less time spent at work finishing things up.
Make a schedule and stick to it.
If you find that you don’t have time for things that you want to do, it’s time to schedule them in. You’ve prioritized, said no to extra work and minimized time-wasters, so you should have some newly found time to relax. If it’s on a schedule, you’re a lot more likely to do it, too. Treat your down-time as importantly as anything else on your schedule.
Let’s be realistic. No one can do it all, all the time. Let some things go. It’ll get done eventually, (or maybe not). If that’s really not your style, make arrangements for someone else to do it, either at work or at home. Outsource, delegate, hire a housecleaner or order takeout. It may be important for things to be done, but ask yourself if it’s really important that you do it.
Get some exercise.
I know from experience exercise is a great way to push the reset button when it’s time to switch gears from worklife to homelife (especially since I work from home). If getting an early morning or lunchtime walk or workout in is what works best for you, then do that. It’s a great way to reduce stress and improves both physical and mental health. Endorphins are good things.
Have a social life.
I know what constitutes a social life has changed over the years, but having contact with people is a good thing. There are a lot of ways to communicate and stay in touch with others, but human interaction is important, and that means face-to-face. If it’s been more than a month since you’ve seen anyone other than people at work and your family socially, surprise the heck out of a friend of yours and schedule a coffee date, lunch, movie, shopping… whatever works. No cancelling allowed!
Make your time away from work meaningful. Vegging in front of the TV isn’t adding anything to your life. Take advantage of the time you have to engage with your friends or family, get a hobby (sharing one with someone counts double), or get in some reading (not work-related) or music. Personally, cooking dinner every night is my unwind time.
Technology is such a double-edged sword, and it’s a time and attention thief. As mentioned above, turn off the television, put away the phone, turn off the computer and be present with your family or friends. Give yourself a break and leave work at work. You would probably think anyone who let their personal life interfere with their job was out of line. Treat your personal life just the same and stop checking your emails.
Get some sleep!
Better focus, better attitude, better health and better performance are just a few of the improvements you’ll see if you get regular and sufficient sleep. Make it a priority and a habit to get the best results.
Hack your life today. Get more balance. Feel less stress. Be happier.
These are the ten best ways to get more work-life balance into your life right away. By making changes to focus on what makes you happy and fulfilled, you’ll find that your worklife and your life outside of work will reap the benefits.
What challenges are you having in living with more work-life balance? Bonus points if you tell me what changes you’ve already tried and how they worked for you. Comment below.