Work-life balance is a concern of almost every working professional. Do you spend too much time and energy in one area or the other? Are you focusing your time on valuable, productive tasks and relaxing, engaging hobbies? No one’s ideal work-life balance looks exactly like another person’s but, if you implement one or more of these 8 tips, yours is sure to improve and get closer to your own ideal version.
1. Assess Your Expectations: Before you can improve your work-life balance, you need to assess your expectations for what that means. If you’re in a particularly career-driven phase of your life and you want to spend a lot of time networking, improving your skills, and gearing up for a big promotion, your work-life balance won’t look the same as someone’s who is trying to turn their hobby into a profitable side hustle or someone who wants to spend more time volunteering and helping out at their kids’ school. Assess your expectations and find what your ideal work-life balance would look like first, otherwise you’ll be striving towards an unclear goal.
2. Understand Balance Isn’t Always 50/50: Some people think work-life balance means splitting your time 50/50 between work and personal life, no exceptions, no changes, no straying from that. This misconception is often why the idea of work-life balance doesn’t resonate with everyone. Really, at its core, work-life balance almost never means a perfect 50/50 split. Instead, it means assessing the time and energy you’re giving to each area of your life, shifting those when needed, and being cognizant about getting the most out of the time you’re spending in either area. Sometimes, you’ll have busier seasons at work and it will require 80%-90% of your focus. Other times, you’ll need to run in maintenance mode at work instead of pushing yourself so you have more time and energy to dedicate to hobbies, family and friends, fitness and health, or other personal goals. The key is to not let one area take over for the majority of the time and to get as close to your ideal balance as possible for as long as possible.
3. Time Blocking: If you want to make the most of your time at work and be as productive as possible so it won’t bleed into your free time, consider time blocking. Time blocking is a type of scheduling that can help you manage your time better and stay focused on the most important tasks. To time block effectively, you’ll need to prioritize (both at work and in your personal life) and, instead of working by the clock, you can focus on finishing big and small tasks one at a time. For a lot of people, time blocking is the secret that helps them work smarter and get home faster or even make the most of their weekend days to get more done.
4. Reduce Notifications and Embrace Do Not Disturb: Another way you can make sure your time at work and your personal time don’t bleed into each other, wrecking whatever balance you’ve created, is to reduce the number of notifications you allow on your phone, in your email, or on your computer. Only allow notifications when they’re absolutely essential and, when you really need to focus, embrace do not disturb. It’s not just there to avoid annoying people in a movie theater, it’s also there to help you have a better work-life balance!
5. Ruthlessly Eliminate With Time Wasting Tasks: If your work-life balance feels out of whack, it’s time to ruthlessly eliminate time wasting tasks in both your work life and your personal life. From scrolling endlessly through Twitter or Facebook or Instagram (both at work and at home) to letting email correspondence distract you and take up way too much of your productive time, these time wasters often make themselves very obvious. Get out of the habit of spending any time on the unnecessary so you can have the work-life balance you really want!
6. Delegate in Your Personal Life to Buy Your Time Back: During particularly busy seasons at work or when you’re looking to make more time for a hobby or side project, consider delegating tasks in your personal life that could be done by someone else. If you can afford it, services that deliver your groceries, do your laundry for you, or even people who clean your house will save you some valuable time and allow you to use that time to either focus on work or use your personal time more effectively and enjoyably.
7. Find Activities That Cover Multiple Areas of Focus: If you’re looking to improve your skills and also socialize, MeetUps can be a great solution. If you want to prioritize fitness and want to spend more time with your partner, gym dates can be a great solution. Finding activities that cover multiple areas of focus will help you maximize your time and improve your work-life balance.
8. Change Jobs: The root of your lack of work-life balance may be your current job and, short of convincing the higher ups at your organization to completely restructure the company’s existing culture, there’s not much you can do to change that. One thing you can do is change jobs. Start your job search for a position with work-life balance improving perks like flextime, partial or full telecommuting, unlimited PTO, and more right here.
When it comes down to it, the ideal work-life balance is completely unique to each person and it really is rooted in how you want to spend your time and what you want to focus your energy on. Use these 8 tips to get closer to your ideal work-life balance!