If you’re feeling out of balance in your life, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to do it all: succeed in their jobs, enjoy family time, maintain a social life and take care of themselves. When you spend too much time at work and too little time on your life outside of the office, it’s a smart idea to hit the reset button. Here are a few tips to help you regain a good work-life balance:
- Put the important things first. Family, your mental health and your physical health should be non-negotiable priorities in your life—and if they’re taking a backseat because your plate is too full, talk with your boss about making sure your daily workload is appropriate and achievable.
- Take a hard look at the time sucks. Are you guilty of taking “quick” breaks that turn into 45 minutes surfing the internet? Do simple tasks often end up hogging your entire afternoon? Keep a detailed log of your day’s activities for a week. Then, identify the biggest time-wasters that are keeping you at work longer than necessary. Make a plan to regain control of your day by saying no to things that don’t require your involvement, minimizing the digital distractions and keeping a detailed daily agenda.
- Schedule, schedule, schedule. Create a schedule and do your very best to stick to it. Put everything on it too—from wakeup time to bedtime, from calls/meetings to focused task completion time. The more you adhere to a detailed daily schedule, the easier it becomes to quickly identify the meaningless activities that take up your day without you even noticing them.
- Learn to delegate. Many of us are guilty of taking on more than we can handle because it feels easier to do things ourselves than to teach someone else to do them. Stop that immediately and start asking yourself if every task you complete is the best use of your precious hours. Try to come up with a list of things that could easily be handled by a coworker or someone on your staff who is better suited for the job.
- Set boundaries. Of course you want to be a reliable employee, but there’s danger in giving everything you’ve got to your job. Setting a schedule and communicating that schedule to colleagues can help, but there’s more you can do. For big projects, develop a plan and schedule with due dates to which you can commit—so you don’t end up working nights and weekends whenever something important arises. Institute a no-tech policy for a set period each day and unplug— literally and figuratively. Take days off to rejuvenate and reenergize.
- Treat the fun stuff like commitments. Don’t blow off your kickboxing class or bail out of dinner with friends because a project needs your late-night attention. Schedule your social and personal activities and treat them like you would an important meeting. Achieving balance requires that you continuously fill each of your “life buckets” (i.e. the family/friends and health buckets) and do not overflow just one (i.e. the career bucket).
It might not always feel like it, but it is possible to commit to your family, your job, your friends and yourself. Set reasonable limits to ensure you don’t sacrifice your family or social life for your career. Practice makes better: be disciplined about making time for all of your priorities. Soon you will feel more balanced, less stressed and more fulfilled in all areas of your life.