This year I announced one of my main goals was to improve my work-life balance. Last year I worked like crazy and while I felt like I still had a little time to spend with family and friends, for the most part I was burnt out and often felt unorganized and all over the place.
Since then, I’ve started outsourcing and really analyzing my situation. I’m a classic workaholic averaging 60 hour work weeks, while trying to manage my household, raise my child, and plan a wedding. Most people might think someone like me who doesn’t know how to stop taking on more tasks will probably have an extremely difficult time developing any type of balance.
On the contrary, I don’t think it’s not that hard to develop a good work-life balance once you get past your own bad habits. A lot of times we hold ourselves back and stand in the way of our own success. Here are a few ways to get over yourself and work alongside me this year in an attempt the gain the work-life balance you’ve always wanted.
Be Honest with Yourself and Set Realistic Expectations
It’s great to be ambitious and set specific goals. But on the flip side, you can overwhelm yourself and stress yourself out by adding unnecessary pressure and standards to your life.
I have a hard time with this because I am very goal orientated, but when I’m setting expectations for myself, I think about my health and sanity first these days. You know yourself better than anyone and you know what you can handle. Feel free to push yourself when it comes to setting goals and taking on extra tasks, but know where to draw the line.
Determining What Balance Means to You
Saying you want a better work-life balance is a great first step, but you won’t get far until you determine what balance means to you. People have their own opinion of what balance means and looks like in their life so you need to ask yourself what it means to you.
To me, having balance doesn’t mean working part-time, staying at home with my son every day, sleeping in, ad hanging out with friends every weekend. Some people’s idea of balance may look similar to that and that’s perfectly fine.
I’m okay with working 40-60 hours per week at this particular time in my life. I don’t need to spend every evening relaxing at home and I actually like to stay busy and get things done. To me, balance means having enough sleep so that I feel well rested, being able to do work that I love and enjoy each day, having some down time each day, being able to watch a movie with my family in the evening after school and work, along with being extremely organized.
Once you find out what balance means to you, you can start working toward obtaining your definition of balance and not someone elses’.
Stay off Facebook
You might not have a problem with Facebook, but I do. Sometimes I feel like being on social media just sucks up my time and I always feel guilty about it. Lately, I’ve had solid reasons for being online since I haven’t had a phone and usually contact friends and family online and I manage a Facebook page for a client of mine.
Otherwise, I want to cut Facebook browsing time to about 15 minutes a day and not lose any more of my precious time that could be used to get other things done.
If you don’t have a problem with Facebook, cut down your time on your other favorite social media platform or cut down your television time by 30-60 minutes per day/week to get back some time.
Scale Up your Work
If you find yourself doing tasks that cost you more money or doing work that pays you less than you prefer, try to cut those opportunities out of your life and replace them with other ones. For my situation, I’m trying to scale up my freelance work and find clients that can pay more so I can ultimately work less to make the same amount of money or even more.
So far this has worked out tremendously. By scaling up, I can cut my workload without reducing my income which will free up more time for me to do other things.
Schedule in Down Time for Yourself
When you have a lot on your plate, it gradually becomes super easy to let your own needs go and forget or just run out of time to take care of yourself. If you want a better work-life balance, you can’t let this happen.
You need to schedule time for yourself just like you schedule other activities and obligations. Set an appointment with yourself to do whatever you want to do, even if that means just sitting and listening to music, taking a walk, or reading a book.
When you schedule your down time, make it official by either creating a memo in your phone, writing it down in a planner or telling others who ask you for something that you have ‘plans’ during that time. You’ll be surprised at what just a few minutes of ‘me’ time can do.
Find out What ‘Prime Time’ is and Maximize It
Dragging your feet and taking extra time to complete tasks is one of the main ways to kill your your work-life balance. If you don’t want to do certain tasks or just feel burnt out, it will probably take longer to get them done. This won’t happen if you work diligently during prime time.
Prime time includes those 2-3 hours (on average) when you are most productive throughout the day. Everyone hits that slump halfway through their work day when they just become uninspired or need to take a quick break to recharge. Make a conscious effort to take care of your most challenging tasks before you hit that slump.
If you consider yourself a morning person like me, you’ll want to eliminate all distractions and get the bulk of your work done in the morning. If you find that you are productive in the evening or at night, you’ll want to clear your schedule at that time to tackle all your work. The more you can accomplish during prime time the better. You can always save simple mindless tasks for other moments of the day as well.
Are you trying to improve your work-life balance as well this year? If so, how?
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