Do you agree that life is a balancing act? And that creating a harmonious work-life balance is critical to improving not just our physical wellbeing, but also our emotional and career health?
In my previous article, I have talked about the importance of work-life balance. You can read the article to understand some important concepts like why work-life balance is possible and why it is something we all must strive for.
One thing I want to emphasize is that when we talk about achieving work-life balance, it doesn’t mean that the balance has to be in the form of time.
Meaning, if you work for 8 hours, it doesn’t mean that you need to take 8 hours off for play or to enjoy with your family. Work-life balance cannot be quantified by the amount of time you put in.
You can put in 2 hours of focused work and achieve much more than being distracted and work for 4 hours.
You have to understand that work-life balance is achievable, but to achieve it, you must work for it.
So, how can you handle your careers, family, personal life and feel satisfied with them? Here are 10 tips you can implement…
1. Prioritize and schedule your time
One of the most important tips for achieving work-life balance is to prioritize and schedule your time. If you don’t prioritize, you will end up doing irrelevant work that gives you little results. And you will spend your entire day working and find yourself having no time in your life.
It is an important skill that I strongly suggest you learn. What you can do is to list down all the things that you need to do. Preferably, keep the list short like 4 to 6 items at most.
And then, when you start your day, choose to work on each of them. This is how you can focus your energy and effort on things that are really important to you.
One more thing, do you know that you can set goals outside of your career and work life?
You can have goals that you are passionate about, like in your health, relationships, and personal life. For instance, besides having goals in your career and work, you can have exercise goals to maintain your health or to have relationship goals to maintain your intimacy with the ones you loved.
For me, I make every Friday night my date night and I also make it my target to read a book every week. What about you? What other goals do you have outside of your career?
Prioritize your goals and then schedule the action steps. This is how you can make sure you attain the work-life balance you desire.
RescueTime.com has published a very good article about how to prioritize your work. You can read it here.
2. Create a productive workspace
Another important way to maintain your work-life balance is to make sure you are productive when you are working. And to do so, you must create a productive workstation.
A lot of people work in an unproductive environment. They feel stressed, pressured, and their productivity is low, all because they have an unsupportive workspace.
I’m a strong believer in how our environment can shape our lives. When you work in an unproductive workplace, it can greatly affect your mood which will eventually affect other areas of your life.
You don’t want to go to the office to feel stress, and then bring home the stress and release it to your family members, right?
Hence, create a supportive workspace. When you are happy at work, you become more productive. You feel satisfied and fulfilled. And when you’re feeling good at work, you go back home with a better mood that makes your life and everything around you better.
3. Never allow yourself to be distracted
Stop multitasking. When you do your work, work. Stop checking emails, surf through the internet or check the updates on social media while you work.
You can schedule to do all those, but when you work, focus on working and don’t multitask.
You don’t want yourself to be distracted at work and it decreases your productivity.
Most people spend a huge chunk of their time at work. And you really want to make these hours count. You don’t want to spend 8 hours a day working aimlessly and being distracted while getting nothing done.
This is also the reason why most people fail to produce extraordinary results in their work. They are constantly being distracted and they don’t know what they really want out of their lives.
They have developed a set of routine to work at things in a certain way. But it may not be the best way. If you always find yourself having not enough time to finish your work, probably, you should reconsider how you approach your work.
Is it that you are constantly being distracted and fail to complete your task? Or is it because you are being reactive to everything around you?
Identify your objectives and set daily goals. And stick to your plan until you get all the tasks done before you do something else.
4. Make time for yourself
If you want to maintain your work-life balance, you must make time for yourself. How often do you spend time doing things that you love? Do you still remember what is your hobby?
Life is not just about work. You need to also spend time doing things that you love to recharge your soul and mind.
Studies have discovered that polymaths (people who wide knowledge) tend to be more successful than people who only focus on one area of expertise.
Leonardo Da Vinci was an extraordinary painter who painted Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, etc., but do you know that he also ventured into music, engineering, literature, and many other fields?
When you spend time on other things outside of work, you are working to becoming a more complete ‘you’. You get to see things from a different angle which gives you an advantage at work.
Therefore, make time for yourself every day. You can read, you can paint, you can play guitars, etc., do something to make your soul sings.
5. Communicate your needs
Don’t assume other people know what you want. If you want others to understand you, you must first communicate your needs to them.
For example, you can voice your need to achieve a better work-life balance to your family members or your boss. When they understand, they will support you rather than making life hard for you.
If you need to attend a gym class after work, tell that to your boss. Ask permission from your boss so that you can leave a little early to get to the class once or twice a week.
And if you need to work longer hours, tell that to your family members too. Tell them that you are working on an important project and you want to really get it done for your company. Let them understand that you will get back to them once you have got your work done.
Unless you are living alone and doing things all by yourself, you need to learn to communicate your need so that others can support and help you reach a better work-life balance.
6. Take short breaks and holiday
I bet you have heard the phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. And I believe you don’t want to be like Jack, don’t you?
Hence, take many short breaks throughout the day. You want to keep your energy level high so that you can have the productivity and willpower to accomplish more.
And at least once a day, stop work and don’t talk about work. Use the day for yourself, your family members, or do something that you are passionate about.
You don’t want to fill your entire day with work. This will tire you out and make you feel exhausted. And if this persists over the long-term, things will get worse and you may suffer burnout.
Thus, take many short breaks during the day. And take one day off once a week. And within a year, you can take a couple of days off. Whether you go for a holiday or just to relax, that is up to you.
7. Set clear boundaries for work and life
Another technique to maintain your work-life balance is to set clear boundaries for your work and life. You want to avoid overworking and overplaying.
For instance, when you leave the office, don’t bring your work home. You don’t want to reply to emails and feel stressed about your work when you’re at home.
It is important to determine when to start working and when to stop. When you work, work. And when it is time for play, then take your mind off your work and enjoy the play.
In my case, I will switch off my laptop after 10PM. And I set an alarm at 10:40PM to tell myself it is time to stop everything and read a good book before I go to sleep.
What about you? What are the boundaries you can set for your work and life? How can you make your life better by creating rules for yourself to follow?
8. Unplug and get close to nature
We are always connected. Even when we are working, we allow distractions through our phone. Someone can easily reach us or a notification can easily take our attention away.
What you want to do to have more work-life balance is to unplug yourself. Like the previous example, you can set boundaries to unplug. I don’t check my phone before I go to bed. It has become my habit. I prefer to read than to check my phone before I sleep.
You want to schedule regular time to unplug – to get away from the connected world – so that you can work on yourself, reflect on your life, and to get close to nature.
Technology is good, there’s no doubt about that. It makes things easier and more convenient. With your phone, you don’t have to turn on your computer to check emails. You can connect with anyone anywhere and anytime you want.
But let’s be honest. As much as technology has created convenience for us, we don’t want technology to get in the way when we have our ‘me time’ and our family time. You don’t want technology to make you less productive. You want to use technology to be more productive, not the other way.
Here’s a good article published on Medium.com, written by Dan Silvestre, How to Unplug From Tech and Get Your Life Back.
9. Learn to automate, outsource, and delegate
Do you know that you can free up a lot of time so that you can pursue work-life balance by creating automation in your life? There are also many things you can outsource and delegate.
One of the most common examples is cooking. In today’s world, you don’t have to cook and you can just order your dinner to be delivered to you.
Not only that, you can also automate how you manage your money like paying bills, tracking credit, and budgeting.
And if you’re a small business owner, you can also automate or outsource your invoicing and accounting task.
Plus, you also don’t have to do grocery or toiletry shopping if you don’t want to. You can buy all the groceries online easily these days.
If you want to learn how to automate your life, read this article here.
10. Make planning a habit
Work-life balance will never happen unless you are conscious about it and if you plan for it. Thus, make it a habit to plan.
It is true that not everything will turn out like what you have planned and your plan may not work. But it is not so much about the result, it is more about the planning.
When you plan for something, you become more attentive to the things that you want. You become more proactive and you know what you need to do.
Without planning, you become reactive and you respond to basically everything that comes to you.
Extraordinary people don’t achieve great success through accidents. They get there through planning, whether they write it down or they constantly think about it in their head.
Therefore, if you want to achieve work-life balance, you must plan for it. You must be conscious of what you need to do and what you must not do.
And when you have a plan, you can then actively put in the effort to make things work.
Work-life balance is not a myth and it is something that you can achieve if you want to. Use the 10 tips above and make your life, both personally and professionally, worth living.
You don’t want to overspend your time into your work and you don’t want to have too much free time to play too. Hence, make it a balance by actively designing a life that you want to live.
Do I miss out anything? Do you find this article helpful? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.