5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance
We live in a time where busyness is best. It’s not enough to just work a nine-to-five job, commute back home and spend the rest of the evening on the couch. We’ve taught ourselves to take on extra responsibilities at work, volunteer, spend time with friends …
The list goes on. And so do we. Often without stopping.
Life gets busy, often before we realize our work and home life have fallen out of balance. Here are five tips to help you regain your footing and stay productive and happy no matter how busy you are.
1. Leave your Work at Work
It’s never a good feeling when work follows you home. Even if you bring it home over the weekend and say you’re going to get some of it done, and don’t, it’s still within reach and still on your mind.
You shouldn’t have to think about work when you’re not at work. As often as you can, keep your work at work and don’t let yourself bring it home. If you work from home, do your work in a place separate from the rooms you live and relax in, such as an office or a guest bedroom. It’s best to keep your mind off work when you aren’t working so you can focus on other things, like friends, family and leisure activities.
2. Make Time for Meals and Exercise
How often do you cook a meal for yourself, only to end up eating it while doing something else, like answering emails or surfing the Internet? Have you ever tried to start a fitness routine, but usually fall out of the rhythm because you just don’t have time?
At certain points throughout the day, you need to stop and breathe. This can be difficult to do when you have a hard time just sitting still. Take 30 minutes several times a day to let your mind unwind by eating a meal and engaging in some light to moderate exercise. That way, you’re still accomplishing something, you’re giving yourself a chance to think without distractions and you’re making your health a priority, which will make you much happier and more productive in the long run.
3. Treat One Day a Week as Your Rest Day
Sometimes we end up working even when we’re not at work. Running errands, planning events with family and friends and even doing seemingly mindless chores all adds up over time. If you spend five days a week at work and your weekends running around completing other tasks, you’re missing out on something important: giving yourself a break.
Pick one day out of your week, most likely a Saturday or Sunday, and treat it as your “rest day.” Don’t do any chores or run errands or make phone calls unless absolutely necessary. Go out with friends. Go see a movie. Do something that doesn’t involve work of any kind. Adopting this habit will not only give you something to look forward to during the week, but it will also prepare you for the week ahead.
4. Schedule Your Down Time During the Week, Too
It’s one thing to tell yourself you’re going to relax when you get home tonight; it’s another thing entirely to actually follow through with your promise. Our bodies and our minds need time to wind down and recuperate, especially after a long day. Denying ourselves that time only stresses us out more, which can have a negative impact on our relationships and productivity.
Add your down time into your schedule to make sure it happens. If you treat it like just another task you need to complete before the end of the day, it’s much more likely you’ll actually get it done. Write “relax” on your to-do list if you have to. Whatever it takes to give yourself the rest you need.
5. Set a Specific Time to Unplug until Morning
Some days there are a lot to do, both at work and at home. It feels satisfying when it’s almost midnight and we’re still working—look how much we’re getting done! This isn’t good for our physical or mental health, though. Spending all day in front of a screen and not stopping to give your brain a rest can have long-term negative effects.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but you might need to give yourself a cutoff time, let’s say 8:00 p.m. No matter what you’re doing, when that clock hits 8:00 p.m., stop. Save your work, shut down your computer and set your phone aside. Pick up a book or have a face-to-face conversation with someone. You’ll sleep better and you’ll be in a much better mood tomorrow, when the cycle starts all over again.
Finding a good work-life balance takes some time and practice, but once you get into a healthy routine, you’ll be more productive and satisfied than you ever thought possible.