There are some people who won’t rest until they become a multimillionaire and have that perfect house. And some of us, meanwhile, will be happy if we can simply uncover the baffling mystery of how to balance work and life. If you’re in this second bracket, then this blog is for you.
Whether you’re new to your job or a workaholic, chances are that you struggle with achieving work-life balance. But the good news is that it gets easier when you make a real effort and experiment until you find what works best for you.
To help you on your way, we’re going to look at five tips for work-life balance. We encourage you to give them a go for at least a couple of days – you might be surprised at what sticks and what doesn’t.
1. Arrange Your Personal and Professional To-Do Lists by Priority
This is a really common phenomenon when balancing work and family: You start your day with a bunch of personal and professional tasks you hope to get done, you sail through the first couple hours of the day, but then you get caught up by unexpected emails and phone calls. Then, a family member asks you for help, or your child has a meltdown. And, then, you have to put out a fire at work. By the end of the day, you might be halfway through your mental list wondering where your time went.
A good strategy for preventing this is to create two physical lists, one for work stuff and one for personal life stuff. Write down everything you can think of that needs to be done today or even this whole week. Then, rearrange that list by priority and urgency – place them in categories one through three, with one being the highest priorities and three being the lowest.
This way, you can start each day with at least one or two items from the high-priority category. You’ll be able to get the most important tasks done first before the inevitable distractions start to get in your way.
2. Set a Daily Window for Checking and Answering Work Messages
This is one of the most impactful tips for work-life balance. It is very common for people to struggle with work-life balance when their phones and emails are constantly blowing up – and they’re constantly checking and responding.
If you have a lot of things going on during any given day, this is almost certainly taking a significant chunk of your time and it’s probably also having a negative impact on your family life. How many times have you been scolded for being on your phone when you’re supposed to be spending quality time with someone else?
It’s a lot easier said than done, but if you can manage to keep work inside work hours as much as possible, then this will go a long way to sustaining a happier balance. Set a time window for engaging with work messages. This might be a traditional 9-to-5, or maybe you’d like to start checking messages at 10 or 11 a.m., so you can have a distraction-free morning.
When you’ve officially exited your time window, turn off your notifications. Log out of your email. Put your phone on silent, or leave it in the other room during dinner. If your messages have control over you, change the dynamic. Take the power back.
3. Play to Your Strengths and Delegate Your Weaknesses
Learning new things takes time. Dragging your feet to do something you hate also takes time. Instead of loading yourself up with things you don’t like or things you aren’t good at, see if you can delegate those tasks to others. This can add a shockingly large amount of time back to your day, as you’ll be able to focus better when you’re doing things you actually enjoy and can do quickly and efficiently.
If you’re managing a team at work, assigning tasks to others is a breeze. Try having a team meeting to see how things can be rearranged to accommodate everyone. If you’re not in a position to give orders, try trading tasks or projects if you can swing it.
This also works in a home environment. You can trade chores or responsibilities with your significant other, or give your kids more of their own chores around the house if they’re old enough.
When you can pull this off, it’s also a bonus for your own daily happiness and stress levels – which is a massive contributor to your ability to have a healthy work-life balance.
4. Learn to Say No
Being a “yes” person is another risk factor for needing to improve work-life balance. You want to please everyone, which is a great character trait but being a “yes” person can backfire – swiftly and constantly.
So, it’s important to be selective about what you’re agreeing to and how often you’re agreeing. This means that you have to disappoint people sometimes. (But remember: The odds are that people are likely less disappointed than you might feel.)
Saying no can certainly trigger your fomo, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. As a bonus, you’ll learn valuable interpersonal and communication skills that will help you keep great work and personal relationships.
It can be as easy as using lines like:
- I can’t help right now, but I can help tomorrow afternoon if you still need it.
- I’m sorry, but I don’t have any more room on my plate this week.
- I really want to go with you, but I know that I’ll be exhausted if I do.
5. Make Time Every Day for Something You Enjoy
Vacation days are just part of the formula for refilling your cup. You’ll also need to implement this rule on a more consistent, micro scale. Ideally, you should do one thing that you enjoy every single day. Make another physical list and write down all the things you enjoy, big and small, like:
- Calling your best friend
- Cuddling with a family member or pet
- Playing a card or board game
- Reading a book
- Listening to that one song that makes you dance uncontrollably
Don’t leave anything out! Now, organise that list into things you can do on a daily basis without spending too much extra time or money. Put a space in your calendar every day for you to do just one of those things. Choose a time that’s accessible to you, like after dinner or before your workday starts. When that time comes up, pull out your list and pick something.
When you can regularly cultivate some “me-time” and cater to your own needs, you’re building a foundation for managing work-life balance. You’re keeping yourself revitalised, excited, and mentally nimble.
Finding work-life balance might take you some trial and error, but the payoff will be incredible once you figure out the techniques and strategies that work best for you, your work, and your family.
The most important thing is that you’re able to put yourself first every now and then. Take those annual leave days, enjoy a few moments of peace and silence every day, and spend meaningful time with the people you love doing the things you love.
After all, you’ve worked so hard to build an amazing life for yourself – what’s the point if you can’t occasionally kick back and enjoy it the way you want?