Achieving an ideal work-life balance can seem like a distant dream; but it’s something that’s vitally important.
“In our digitally driven world, it’s imperative to maintain a work-life balance,” says Jackie Stone, CMO of cloud storage company MiMedia. “I’ve worked in digital media for more than 20 years, and as we become more connected, more people have decided that staying ‘on’ 24/7 is socially acceptable—and it’s not.”
A healthy work-life balance is crucial for your success at work and your personal life as well. It’s important for your productivity, your mental clarity, and, of course, your health. Burning the candle at both ends will wear you down, leave you exhausted, and eventually, will even lead to burn out. (Read more about why work-life balance is so vital in our previous post.) If you are looking to free yourself up and improve your productivity, then you need to find balance.
The first step to making it happen is prioritizing it in your life. Then, you can make a plan and start taking steps toward incorporating more downtime into your week.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to achieve this balance in your own life.
1. Prioritize Your Time
Creating a balance starts by prioritizing. Beginning your morning with a list of things that you’d like to do is helpful, and it’s also important to take a few minutes at the end of the day to assess how your time was spent. Going over your day and charting out where you spent your time, and how much time was used on different tasks is one of the best ways that you can determine where your time is going, which in turn will allow you to prioritize more carefully. (All of this can be recorded in your Day Designer!)
2. Communicate Clearly
Lack of communication can cost significantly in terms of wasted time and money! Not being clear with your expectations, or not having clear expectations set for yourself can both cost you valuable time. Not only will you waste time having to redo tasks that you thought you understood, others will waste your time trying to do things that they thought you asked! Be clear with your instructions and requests. Take a minute before you hit send on the email to ensure that the meaning is clear, or confirm that you understand exactly what your employer or client is requesting before moving ahead with the project.
3. Ask for Help
Studies have shown that we are happier and more productive when we have a strong support system in place. Asking for help, whether at work or home, can help make your life easier and help you strike a better balance as well. You shouldn’t have to shoulder everything on your own! Know when to ask for help. This might mean finding someone to help with administrative tasks at work or with chores at home. Identify your needs and then look for solutions in the form of outsourcing and delegating.
4. Set Boundaries
In both your personal and professional life, it’s important to be able to say no. While this doesn’t mean you should tell your boss you can’t perform your regular duties, it does mean knowing when to draw the line; whether it’s a client that’s pressuring you to add more freebies in or a request from your manager that you work late again. Work to establish boundaries so that you’re clear on what’s expected of you.
“Sit down with your boss and discuss what the expectations are of you, and set boundaries on things like your availability outside of work to take calls and emails and how often, if ever, you’re able to work overtime,” advises Ashley Stahl in her article on Forbes. “When you and your employer are clear on what you expect of one another, you’re far less likely to fall into a pattern of working around the clock.”
5. Guard Your “Me” Time
Let’s face it; you can’t be at your best if you are constantly worn out. Taking time to yourself is crucial for your overall well-being. This is something that won’t happen if it’s not scheduled in, so pencil some time in to do things that you enjoy—whether that’s the gym, an art class, reading, or taking a bath! Even when things are chaotic and busy, it’s important that you keep that time blocked off. Remember: Recharging your batteries will enable you to help others and do more.
6. Unplug Occasionally
We always seem to be connected but this isn’t healthy! Being able to cut ties with the outside world occasionally is important to recover from stress, and will give us that all-important space that we need to relax, think, and allow new ideas to emerge.
7. Leave Work at Work
We all bring our work home with us in some way—whether it is by bringing home extra tasks to complete after the kids are in bed, or mentally, by trying to think through key points for that meeting next week. If you are truly looking to find balance, though, it’s important to be able to break this habit. Write yourself a list of things to accomplish the next day, and then close the door. You’ll be more focused at work more clearly when you’re able to take a break and fully disconnect from it.
Finally, it’s less about ‘finding’ a work-life balance, and more about ‘creating’ it. Our circumstances and the world around us are constantly changing, and a balance is something that requires an ongoing effort to maintain. Continually take stock of your situation. When you find that you’re consistently feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, or angry—it could be a good sign that something in your life needs to change. Oftentimes, it’s an indicator that it’s time to reevaluate your work-life balance and strive to make some much-needed changes in your life.
All the best on your journey!
Are you looking to create a work-life balance? Let us know in the comments below!