„Life is like riding a bicycle. To ieep your balance, you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein
If you’re anything like me, you can never find enough time in the day to get everything done. In a world where we’re more accessible, competition is high and working weeks are longer, it can be difficult to find the time to relax and appreciate the world outside the workplace. I’ll put my hands up and admit, I was terrible at this — but once I researched the best tips and combined them with my own experiences, I found that the work-life balance I so crave isn’t that difficult to achieve.
Table of Contents
Like in most things time consuming, structure plays a heightened role in establishing a rewarding work-life balance. We may feel that our habits are irreversible or that there’s just too much to do all the time. Take a step back and really think, ‘what changes can I make?’.
Where does your time go? That’s the first question you need to ask yourself. By understanding what activities and tasks make up most of your day, you’re able to plan effectively, with the time you have available.
“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” -Sir Ray Avery
-Sir Ray Avery
Order your to-do list with the highest priorities first. This is a very simple way to ensure your most important work gets completed by the deadline. Each day (or the night before if you’re really on the ball), list out what you need to do the following day/week and prioritize what is the most important. Easy, right?
Focus all of your energy on the task at hand. By getting rid of the biggest task first, you’re able to relax and focus on the smaller tasks without the extra pressure.
Schedule in your free time. It’s very important that you incorporate downtime into your daily life. Block out in your calendar and don’t let anything else get in the way. How much free time you schedule is completely up to you – it could be a 15 minute run in the morning or a movie marathon with your partner. It doesn’t matter as long as you make time to enjoy yourself.
You’re not a machine. Don’t try and act like one.
Delegate / Outsource
If you don’t have the time, find someone who has. If you’ve worked hard enough to be given your own team, dictate who has enough time to help or who would be the most useful and get them to help you. If done correctly, with the right brief, you will have less on your plate to deal with, meaning you can focus all of your energy on the bigger, important tasks.
Bonus: It’s also great for morale. Your team will do all they can to stand out from the crowd and will work together towards achieving the same end goal.
Work Smarter To Achieve Balance
When you’re really up against it, you may think the only option is to work harder, faster and longer. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re already under pressure so the last thing you want to do is add more yourself. Take back control and work smarter. Try these tips:
Take Care of Your Number One Resource
Taking short, regular breaks can be the key to completing your work faster. In Stephen Covey’s famous book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, he uses a fantastic analogy that demonstrates how important taking regular breaks can be if you want to work smart. He tells a story of a woodcutter whose saw becomes blunter as time passes and he continues to cut down his trees. If said woodcutter were to take regular breaks to sharpen his saw, he would, in fact, save time and effort in the long run than he would by continuing to cut with a blunt saw.
Schedule in 5-10 minutes to get up off your seat, get the blood flowing and change your scenery. You’ll open up your mind to new stimuli and fresh inspiration.
„Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”
– Stephen Covey
Learn to say no.
„Wait, what?! Say no to my boss?! You can’t be ser-”
I am. Yes. You may work for your employer, but your employer doesn’t own you. If you have plans that evening, then you have plans. Tell your boss that you’re unavailable (politely, of course) and that you can help when you’re back in the office. By setting the boundary, you gain the freedom to focus on your best interests and take back your life. Check out this great article on ‘why saying ‘no’ gets you ahead.’
Ask the right questions
By asking the right questions, you’re able to gather the information you need much more quickly, saving time beating around the bush. Forbes Magazine carried out research on asking the right question. According to their findings, the positive effects are increased by 400%.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Pick up the phone
How many emails, on average, does it take to gain all the information you need? Really think about this one – how often do you send out an email and receive everything you need in one concise reply? Hardly ever, right? Blow off the dust on your, well, blower…
You’ll save time. You’ll get the information you need in real-time. You’ll build relationships.
When you’re away from work, be away from work
Have you ever been in the bar with your buddies and one (or more) of them is reading his emails? Or did your Dad ever sit at his laptop and say, ‘just 15 more minutes, kiddo’ when you were waiting with your football? Don’t be that guy. They don’t enjoy themselves.
One of the biggest problems that affect your work-life balance is how accessible we are outside the office. Most of us have our work emails set up on our phones. We’re always just a touch-of-a-button away, making the concept of a work-life balance seem impossible to achieve. If only there was an easy way to avoid getting sucked back into work-mode, am I right? Well, there is.
Turn off your notifications. Block work emails during downtime. Turn your phone off!
It’s that simple.
Limit work-talk with your partner. Both you and your partner work hard. The last thing you want to occupy your downtime the ins and outs of your working day…
Look After Your Health
Make sure you’re getting your 40 winks. How do you feel when you don’t get enough sleep? Sluggish, impatient and uninterested? All factors that oppose productivity. As a result, you’re going to start working longer hours to catch up with the work you’re not able to finish and… see where this is going?
Grab your 6-8 hours. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Hit the gym and blast out any stress. Working out is one of the best ways to exercise your body and mind. It pumps the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, throughout our body and helps boost our mood.
Your current work-life balance might not be the strongest. You may feel overwhelmed and under pressure. However, once you take a step back from the all the chaos, take in a deep breath and look at your life from a bird’s eye view, you’ll soon see where the issues lie. Try implementing the tips above, where applicable, and see if you can make a positive change.
I’d love to know your feedback, thoughts or any additional tips you have in the comments section below.