Do most of your days begin with you struggling to wake up, rushing to office, coming back home tired and dropping dead on the bed? Where is the time for family, for yourself and for doing things that bring you joy?
We are all in the same boat – stuck in the “busy trap”, running behind success and chasing what we think is happiness. Let’s face it - our lives revolve around work and we are too scared to break that vicious cycle.
You might be doing phenomenally well in the professional space, but that does not need to be at the cost of your personal life. Don’t let your work define you. Make a conscious effort to set clear work-life boundaries and start living a more fulfilling life.
How you ask? Here are 8 tips to manage your time and strike the perfect work-life balance -
1. Plan your Day
“Who has the time to plan?” – if that is what you are thinking, then you definitely need to plan your days. Learning how to manage your time is one of the key skills to succeed.
We don’t realize how important planning is. Instead of approaching your day in a haphazard manner and feeling like you hardly managed to get anything done by the end of it, planning boosts efficiency and productivity.
So, before going to bed, spare 5-10 minutes planning the next day and make a note of it in your journal or phone. You will be amazed to see how this practice lets you get more work done and keeps stress at bay.
"It is easy to get overwhelmed as projects start mounting, but an effective way to manage that stress is to write everything down and assign a due date. I personally keep a daily to-do list that only has the tasks that need to be completed that day."
2. Learn to Say ‘No’
How many times have you said ‘yes’ and regretted it later?
Whether it’s unwillingly choosing a work commitment over your child’s annual day function or feeling guilty for leaving your workplace on time to make it for a social event – it’s important to stand up for things that matter to us without feeling guilty.
Learning to say ‘no’ comes from having clear priorities and sticking to them. Understand that you cannot be everywhere and in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, there will be opportunities you will need to turn down.
The idea is to be true to yourself and not over-committing just because you are afraid of the consequences. The next time you are tempted to turn something/someone down, just be honest – what is the worst that can happen? At first, it will be daunting but later, you will be glad you had the courage to say no.
3. Wake Up Early
Waking up early is tough, especially when you go to bed exhausted. However, being an early riser positively impacts our health and productivity which makes it completely worth it. When you wake up early, you get those extra hours in the day to yourself when you can enjoy the calm before the chaos. You can use this time to catch up on reading, eat a hearty breakfast, do yoga or exercise.
Use two alarm clocks or put the alarm away from the bed so you need to get up to turn it off – these tricks will help you wake up earlier than your usual time and before you know it, your body will get used to this routine.
4. Delegate Effectively
If you are always racing against time and wondering where your day went, chances are you are not delegating enough. Whether it’s at home or at work – if you are a micro-manager, you like to be involved in every little nitty-gritty detail, then that could be why you are not able to manage your time well.
The only way to focus on larger and more important things is by delegating as much as possible. Try using technology to assign tasks and encourage collaborative working. You need to start trusting your family and colleagues, identify strengths and share the workload.
So, start involving your children in household duties and delegate more often to your coworkers – not only is it good for your mental health but also helps empower the people around you to make decisions and grow. Delegation done right is a win-win situation.
5. Turn Off Work Mode
Are you constantly checking your work emails on the dinner table or thinking about an upcoming work presentation when you should be sleeping? Work has clearly invaded your life and you need to learn how to switch off.
After a long day at work, you should spend quality time with your family or enjoy some alone time. That does not mean being physically present but mentally absent. It means to be truly invested in your family’s life and do meaningful activities together.The only way to do is to leave work at work. Don’t get your work laptop home, switch off notifications when you leave the office and use after work hours to focus on your personal life.
6. Indulge in Hobbies
Indulging in hobbies relaxes our mind and helps relieve stress. In the chaos of life, it’s important to reconnect with activities and passions that give us joy.
Whether it’s cooking, swimming, playing the piano or dancing – find out what you love doing and block time for it. There will never be an end to work but in order to maintain your sanity, you need to break out of the routine and focus on your personal growth.
This is also a great way to learn a new skill and meet like-minded people – all of which contribute to an enriching life.
7. Take a Vacation
Sometimes the only thing we need is to take a vacation, get a change of environment and see someplace new. Vacations are a great way to spend quality time with your loved ones and get your mind off work. It’s that time of the year when you can unwind, relax and rejuvenate. After working so hard, the least you can do is give your brain a break.So assess how the financial year looks and pencil in a time of the year when everyone in the family can go on a holiday.
Steve Schwab, CEO and founder of Casago agrees to take time to travel. He says,
"To make sure I always set aside time for me, I learned to focus on my calendar and set days aside for my personal life that were not negotiable. I found that traveling to new places to explore is a pressure relief valve for me, so now I make time to get away and buy a plane ticket so I can't get out of it."
8. Pay Attention to Your Body
Health is wealth – as cliché as it sounds, there is no greater truth than that. There is no way you can excel at work or home if you aren’t physically and mentally fit.
Regardless of how busy or overworked you are, you need to take care of yourself by drinking 2-3 liters of water, getting at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, exercising regularly and having a balanced diet.
If there is something bothering you or keeping you anxious, reach out to a loved one or seek professional help. So, pay attention to your body and get the necessary help if required – therapy is completely normal and works wonders.
Work-life balance boils to having your priorities straight and focusing on living a holistic life rather than letting work consume your life. Live your life such that you are able to make precious memories and savor them because at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Adela Belin is the Head of Digital Marketing at Writers Per Hour. She writes about motivation, mental health, personal development and all things in between. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing relevant stories inspired by her personal journey. Feel free to contact Adela on LinkedIn.