We have written quite a bit about finding balance in your life. Your work and personal lives can also become out of balance.
I have recently been even busier with work than usual. I work from home, which seems to add another dimension to work-life balance. You would think it would be easier to get more work done at home. However, since my work and personal life happen in the same place, they seem to be hopelessly intertwined.
For most Americans, work life and home life can be more easily separated. The boundaries between work and home used to be more clear. Today, we have laptops, smartphones, email, text and Skype. You can work from virtually anywhere. Yet, it’s important to create a healthy balance between your work and personal lives.
Here are 11 ways you can achieve your own work-life balance.
Track your time
I have tracked my time and while it’s not much fun, it can be very enlightening. For one week, write down what you do all day long. I find that I actually waste a substantial amount of time when I should be working. And, I let my work life bleed over into my personal time.
I have also found that there are times of the day when I’m less productive than others. I have learned to work during my productive times and doing more menial tasks when I’m feeling less ambitious.
Create a schedule
I am the queen of to-do lists. However, it’s easy to push off the tasks on a list or let other things cut into your work time. If you plan to work for eight hours, then map out your entire day. I have found it helps to write down my schedule the evening before so that I’m ready to hit the ground round running the next day. Be sure to include 30 minutes to answer non-urgent emails and phone calls so that you won’t be tempted to use them to procrastinate your planned tasks.
Do one thing at a time
You should plan to do one thing at a time. As we’ve blogged in the past, multitasking is really just a myth. You typically end up doing multiple things poorly rather than doing an excellent job at one thing. It’s the same reason you should separate your work and personal life – so that you can do a good job at each of them.
Take care of big tasks first
I like to answer emails and take care of a few easier tasks first thing in the morning. I need a few minutes to drink coffee and become fully alert. After that, I try to jump into the bigger projects of the day. One reason to tackle them first is that most people are typically at their peak performance earlier in the day. It’s also nice to feel like you’ve achieved more should you get derailed from your schedule later in the day.
Add downtime between work and home
If you know you’re going home to household tasks, take a break between work and going home. Go to the gym or take a walk. You may need to run a few errands or pick up some groceries. Putting some time between work and going home can help you clear your mind of work and allow you to focus on your personal life.
Ask for help
Let your family, friends, boss and co-workers know that you are seeking more harmony and balance in your work and home lives. Tell them your plan and let them help you where they can. They can help you relieve some of the stress of trying to balance everything, and they can help keep you on track.
Learn to say “no”
You may be known as the go-to person who is willing to jump on board with a work project, lend a hand in your child’s classroom or spearhead a fundraising effort. It’s hard for many of us to do, but it’s okay to say no. If it doesn’t fit with your schedule or your priorities, don’t do it. You will have more time to do the things that have meaning for you and bring you happiness.
Schedule something fun every day
You need to give yourself a chance to unwind. Do something that is just for you every day. It may be as simple as taking a walk, playing tag with your kids or watching a movie with your spouse. The demands of work and home life can pull us in every direction. We forget to take care of ourselves. Sit on the porch with your dog. Read a book. Just do something that is for your sole benefit each day.
Take care of yourself
Eat a healthy diet, find time to fit exercise into your routine and get plenty of sleep. By taking the time to turn these activities into habits, you can relieve stress, clear your mind and be more productive. Both your personal and work lives will benefit when these basic aspects of your life are also in balance.
Leave work at work
With technology, we can work anytime, anywhere. You need to discipline yourself to create separate family or personal time. Shut down the computer and ignore the emails and texts while you are spending time with your family. It will be there when you go back to work.
Re-evaluate your balance
Take a few minutes at the end of each month to reflect on your current work-life balance. Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself? Do you wish you were handling something differently? What positive things have happened in the last month?
Finding the right balance of work and home life is an ongoing journey. Keep examining your priorities and make the necessary changes to stay on track!