Achieving the perfect work life balance can be an extraordinarily difficult task. We’re all guilty of checking email at the dinner table, staying late at work, or skipping out on the little league game to rework a project for the tenth time.
While most of us claim that we want a better work life balance, how many of us are making the necessary changes to get there? You can hope and hope that something will change or, you can make it happen for yourself. Following these tips can help get you in the right direction.
• Create a schedule and stick to it. The most important thing you can do is figure out what exactly needs to get done for you to consider it a successful day. Focus on those tasks only; don’t let yourself get distracted with busy work. As soon as you’ve completed the list, reward yourself by taking the rest of the day off.
• Find the thing you don’t want to do. Do it. You may find yourself avoiding a particular task on your list. All this does is force you to dwell on it longer and end up wasting time. Instead, tackle that pesky task first thing so you can move on and focus on the work you actually enjoy doing.
• Rethink your tasks. Think about each element on your list and determine if there’s a better way of doing it or if it may be unnecessary altogether. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, consider ordering your groceries online to be delivered, hire the kid down the street to mow your lawn or create an automated email message so you don’t feel pressured to respond to every email the second it arrives. The time you save utilizing these tools with far outweigh their costs.
• Build downtime into your schedule. Many see downtime as their reward for cramming as much into their day as possible, but it shouldn’t be. The time you spend relaxing or doing the things you enjoy is just as important as the time you spend at the office; treat it that way. Schedule at least an hour every day for some “me time” to read a book, go for a walk or catch up on your favorite show; use this time however you like.
• Have something to look forward to. Part of the reason we work so hard is to make money to do the things we love. Having something to look forward to will motivate you to work harder in the present so you can enjoy what you have planned in the future. Always keep a few minor things (movie night with the kids, dinner with friends) and a major thing (summer trip to the beach) in mind to help keep you motivated in the short and long term.
• Keep things in perspective. We tend to over-analyze every aspect of our lives and dwell on the things that make us unhappy. Eventually, we have to realize that life happens and we can’t be perfect all the time. Learn to accept the little failures in life and move on to bigger and better things. Doing so will help you see the big picture and appreciate all that you’re grateful for.
• Realize there won’t always be perfect balance. In order to achieve a great work/life balance, there are going to be days where that balance is nonexistent. Understanding that you may have to put the hard work in now in order to enjoy the free time later is imperative to achieving balance. During the busier times, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind, work efficiently and look forward to enjoying your downtime later.
There is no magic formula for finding the perfect work life balance; what works well for someone may not work for you. Start by implementing some of these key points into your life and you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to organizing your life and managing your time.