Do you often feel like trying to reach work/life balance is an uphill battle?
With many of us struggling to juggle careers, family life, and friendships, and our own personal interests, it can feel like a never-ending cycle of stress. Add to that the current stress of the pandemic, it’s no wonder that one-third of Americans consider themselves to be living with extreme stress.
This kind of stress can lead to numerous negative outcomes such as fatigue, decreased immune system function, increased risk of heart attacks, and strained relationships.
The good news is that it’s never too late to add a bit more balance to our lives. In this post, I’ll show you 15 of the best ways to achieve work/life balance.
While this post focuses on those who work outside of the home, the tips can easily be applied to those who work from home. Next week I’ll be diving into some of the specific challenges people who work from home can face in terms of work/life balance (feeling like you’re always at the office, anyone?), followed by another post just for stay-at-home-moms and homemakers.
Keep reading to learn to create the harmony you desire!
Setting Yourself Up For Success
Success isn’t found, it’s created. By trying these tips for different ways to plan your days, you’ll quickly be on the road to balancing the different areas of your life.
- Changing habits doesn’t happen all at once. If you set out to make drastic changes in your lifestyles and routines right away, you’ll increase the chances of ending up overwhelmed and giving up. Pick a few easy-to-implement tips from this post, and then once they become second nature, try adding something else.
Plan your day the day before
- At the end of your workday, make a list of what needs to get done the next day. Prioritize getting the biggest/most difficult/least fun task done first, and build from there. Once you’ve made your list, forget about it until the next workday. This will allow you to stay focused while working, and help you in shutting off your “work brain” while you’re at home.
Have a daily routine – and stick to it
- Create a routine that allows you to squeeze in some self-care throughout your day, and be disciplined about following it. This will help make sure you’re fitting self-care into your schedule while still attending to your work responsibilities.
Limit distractions and time-wasters
- Focus on the task at hand, and you’ll have a more productive day. Use timers and give yourself breaks for social media, texting, etc. When you get back to work, try to focus on only one thing at a time – don’t keep your email open while you work, and have as little tabs open as you can to keep you from jumping from task to task.
Stay focused & present
- If you think of home stuff at work or work stuff at home (or during “off” hours), keep track of the tasks/ideas in a notebook that you can reference when it’s the appropriate time. This way, you can fully enjoy your time off, and be more productive while working.
Master the art of delegating
- Whether at home or at work, learn to ask for help managing your tasks. No one can do it all, and the more you can partner with others on tasks, the more time and energy you’ll have for the other areas of your life.
Don’t over-commit – learn to say “no”
- The more you can avoid spreading yourself too thin, the more you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter the most to you. And by only saying “yes” when you’re really wanting to, you add value to your “yes” and to your relationships. Everyone will know that you’re putting your whole heart into whatever you commit yourself to, instead of saying “yes” to everything and doing it begrudgingly.
Add Some Self-Care to Your Work Routine
This next set of tips is all about things you can do to nurture yourself as you go about your day, to help you feel less drained and more balanced.
Get fresh air & natural light when possible
- Help keep your body’s natural rhythms going strong & support your mental health by getting outside if possible. Take a quick walk on your lunch hour, or enjoy dining al fresco – especially if you’re stuck in a workspace without access to a window. Even 5 minutes outside can work wonders for your state of mind!
Take a full lunch break away from your work area
- If you can’t get outside for your lunch break for whatever reason, at least get away from your work area. If you’re stuck there, or you’re working from home and don’t have a designated workspace, just get up and move. Walk around, do some stretches, and maybe some deep breathing before you start to eat your lunch. While you’re eating, don’t work. I know, easier said than done some days – I used to eat and work all the time thinking I’d be getting more done. But the truth is that eating while you work splits your focus making you less productive. It also puts a strain on your digestive system, since your brain doesn’t send the same “fullness” signals when you’re multitasking, causes you to overeat easier than if you were eating more mindfully.
Use your vacation days/days off (if you have them)
- Make sure to take time off for rest & rejuvenation, especially if you get paid vacation days! If not, make time on the weekends for fun – not just catching up on stuff that was not done during the week. Prepare for your time off ahead of the scheduled vacation so you can fully enjoy your time off and not worry about what you will have to do when you get back. Try incorporating the tips on delegating, not over-committing, and using a notebook to jot down your thoughts before heading out.
Make the Most of Your Downtime
There is nothing worse than still feeling the overwhelm of work when you’re chilling out at home with family or friends. By following the tips below, you’ll be able to feel more balanced, thoroughly enjoy your time off, and get back to work feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever your workday holds.
Create a buffer between “work time” and “home time”
- Whether or not you work outside of the home, make sure you take some time for you to transition from one role to the other. This is a great time to add in some self-care like a quick meditation or EFT session, listening to a podcast on your drive home, or whatever helps you connect back to yourself and brings you joy. Need some more ideas for your self-care routine? Check out the eBook below to help get you started.
Leave work at work
- Don’t bring your work stress into the other areas of your life, if at all possible. If you must vent about your day to your loved ones, keep it brief and purposeful. The less attention you give what has happened in the past (or what may or may not happen in the future), the more you’ll be able to enjoy the present. Having some buffer time, as mentioned above, is a great way to shake off the stress of your workday so you can leave it behind and be fully present for your downtime.
Make your home a haven
- Even if you work from home, you can create a relaxing and nurturing atmosphere to spend your time off in. Your home is your sanctuary – where you go to retreat from the world outside and replenish yourself before heading back out. So once you’re home (or done working), make sure your work supplies are put up so your attention can be focused on relaxing. Fill your home with whatever soothes you like candles, aromatherapy, comfy blankets, and pillows. Make it easy to unwind so that it becomes second-nature and infuses your home with that sanctuary-like quality.
Spend time with your own social circle
- This will look a little different during the current pandemic than it normally would (no in-person coffee dates or game nights), but it’s still important to socialize outside of your family obligations. Having your own social circle and spending time with them on your own provides you with connection to a larger community. According to Psychology Today, It also gives you a chance to freely express yourself and fosters a sense of independence, allowing you to come back to your relationship more fulfilled and energized.
- Being able to be constantly connected to others and having endless sources of information is such a blessing – especially now. But, it can also make it hard to wind down and decompress since our brains are more stimulated with the use of technology. The blue light from technology can also interfere with your circadian rhythm, causing sleep problems like insomnia and trouble staying asleep. Try to turn off unnecessary technology like the TV and your phone at least an hour before bedtime. You can use this time to practice some self-care like journaling or meditation to help ease your mind into a more relaxed state so you can get a restful night’s sleep.
Remember: balance is not stagnant – it adjusts when needed.
Now that you’ve got some ideas for creating more work/life balance, don’t be discouraged if you try something and it only makes a difference for a little while. Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that our needs will fluctuate as well. The key to maintaining the balance is learning to shift when needed, and remaining flexible.
I hope this list has given you some ideas and that they make the impact you’re needing. Be sure to come back after you’ve tried some of these tips and let me know how it went by leaving a comment!
Until next time,