Yes, you work hard—and you should take great pride in that. You put your nose to the grindstone every day in order to churn out work that’s high quality and representative of your top-notch professional identity.
But, you can only burn the candle at both ends for so long before you start to feel completely drained. We’re probably all a little too familiar with the frazzled, exhausted, blurry-eyed feeling that results from devoting too much time to work, with not enough hours left over for ourselves.
Of course work is important. But, so is maintaining your sanity. So, if you’ve been looking for ways to achieve better balance between your career and personal life, look no further. Here are six tips to help you out!
1. Learn to Prioritize
There are only so many hours in a day. So ensuring you have enough time left over for relaxation and personal passions involves serious prioritization of tasks and to-do items.
Oftentimes when we think of prioritizing, we think only of our work related tasks. But, if you’re going to make an effort to strike a balance between work and personal time, you need to learn to prioritize the things that you want to do to as well.
I like to start each day with a good old fashioned to-do list. First, I jot down everything I want to get done in the day. This includes professional tasks (i.e. answering emails, finishing writing projects, sending invoices) as well as personal ambitions (i.e. go for a run, paint my nails, meet a friend for dinner). Once I have my list compiled, I go through and number the items in order of their importance.
Usually, there are several professional duties that fall towards the top of the list due to time pressing deadlines. But, I always like to make sure that I have one personal item in the top five, which forces me to prioritize my personal needs along with my professional tasks. It might seem counterintuitive to rank frivolous tasks ahead of work, but learning to identify what’s important to you (work-related or not) is a key for successful balance!
2. Schedule Downtime
Prioritizing is one thing. But the secret is in the follow-through. You need to stick with those priorities—no matter how tempting it is to push aside your personal needs in order to continue cranking out work.
Physically scheduling personal time can be a really helpful tool to make sure you don’t start to let your downtime slide. So, whether you want to take the dog for a walk in the evening or attend a regular yoga class—put it in your calendar! Then, honor that event as you would any other professional commitment or meeting.
3. Be Honest About Your Limitations
Sometimes we don’t have time for ourselves, simply because we’ve taken on too much responsibility elsewhere. You need to be honest about your availability and time restrictions—both with your boss or clients and with yourself.
I know it feels great to be that go-to girl that’s always available to handle things in a pinch. But, you don’t always have time to save the day. So, before enthusiastically shouting, “Yes!” the next time someone approaches you with a last minute project, take some time to evaluate your current workload. Will this push you over your stress threshold? If so, you might want to second-guess adding that work to your already full plate.
4. Make Time for Exercise
Unfortunately, when our schedules fill up exercise is one of the first things to completely fall off the calendar. Our weekly pilates class or time on the treadmill is quickly replaced with a meeting or other professional obligation. But, making enough time to stay active is not only important for your body—it’s crucial for your mind too.
Exercise is an extremely effective stress-reducer. It releases endorphins, which boost your mood and can even inspire additional productivity! So, make an effort to set aside at least a few blocks of time each week in order to get moving. It’ll make you feel better—I promise!
There’s no doubt about it—I absolutely love technology and social media. However, I think anyone would agree that it still has its definite downsides.
For starters, being constantly connected sets the tone that we should always be available and easily reached. Whether it’s day or night, you feel pressure to answer emails and respond to requests.
Additionally, social media can act as a pretty big time-suck. Admittedly, there are plenty of moments when I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, when I could be spending that time on another activity that actually helps me to unwind and recharge. So, step away from your phone and laptop, and give your eyes a well-deserved break from the screen!
6. Leave Work in the Office
Tying into the point above about being constantly connected, many of us have the tendency to approach evenings and weekends like they’re just natural extensions of our workdays.
We all need time to decompress and wind down. So, don’t treat the time that’s specifically intended for this purpose as your opportunity to catch up! Instead, hold yourself to a firm “shut down” time each day to ensure you’re leaving yourself adequate hours to relax after a long day or week.
Life gets busy, and maintaining adequate balance between work and your personal life can present a definite challenge. There’s a fine line to walk between too much work and too much play. But, these six quick tips should help you find that happy medium!
image via Ashley Ella Design