Juggling the demands of your career and your personal life can be tricky – especially when your electronic devices are always within reach and the office is never more than a touchscreen away.
If you’re not careful, you can easily lose a healthy work-life balance.
Trying to find the right work-life fit isn’t always easy, but there are several ways to ensure you are making the most out of your work day while still having time to enjoy your family and friends.
Here are some strategies and techniques to help you manage time and daily activities more efficiently, making it easier to find that balance:
- Sync Your Calendars
Work-life balance isn’t about separation of church and state. Keeping your personal and professional calendars together helps you to stay super organized so you aren’t accepting a meeting invite for the same time your son is pitching his first Little League game. Be sure to include each family member’s activities to keep you from having that “What am I forgetting?” feeling. Be sure your calendar on your phone is synced, too, so you are up to date with what’s happening no matter where you are. Syncing the family’s calendars will keep everyone on the same page and cut down on last-minute surprises.
- Learn to Love Your Lists
Whether you use pen and paper or a digital planner, maintaining detailed lists will keep you organized and focused in your work life – and your personal one. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made lists – daily lists outlining what needs to be done today, work items in one color, personal in another. And, as something is completed, I check it off. Anything that doesn’t happen, say, on Tuesday’s list gets carried over and added to Wednesday’s list. And I update my lists at the end of the day so the next morning I can get right to it.
- Get Up Earlier
Getting an early start on your day can really get you going in the right direction. It’s an adjustment for some, but getting up early and getting ahead of the game can make your day that much easier. Ever since my son was born, I get up at least an hour or two before he does so I can get things done without distraction. Those early morning hours alone at my desk with coffee in hand is my most productive part of the day. And the same principle applies to getting to the office early – taking advantage of the time before morning meetings or the first round of emails come pouring in can help you get a jump on the day’s deliverables so you’re not scrambling all afternoon.
- Ask for Help
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness (say it with me again and again if you need to). Sometimes you can’t do it all, and that’s OK. Don’t be shy about reaching out for help at work – or hiring an extra set of hands at home – to get a few small tasks off your plate so you can focus on a bigger project.
- Schedule Family Time
If you have trouble finding the balance between work and family time, try scheduling it. Seriously, get the groans out of the way right now. Sometimes, you have to schedule family time – whether it’s with your spouse, your children or both – to hold yourself accountable. You’ll be less likely to work through dinner if you have reservations to that new spot downtown.
- Schedule “Me” Time Too
While you’re at it, schedule a little time for yourself -- whether it’s a workout, a trip to the spa, shopping or even lunch out with friends.
- Give Your Workday a Hard Stop
On those rare occasions when you’re not on deadline or racing to close out the quarter or nail down a big deal, make a commitment to yourself and your family that you are going to stop working by a certain time. Scheduling a time to stop working each day will allow you to know the hours when you can be solely focused on your personal life.
- Take Back Your Weekends
Many of us fall victim to catching up on work over the weekend. Unfortunately, oftentimes you can get so sucked into a project and the next thing you know you’ve spent most of your weekend working. Use your weekend for what it is meant for -- to decompress after a long work week and spend time with family and friends. A relaxing weekend will have you recharged and ready first thing Monday morning.
- Work Smarter
Remind yourself that you don’t always have to do it all in one day, and working harder isn’t always the answer, either. By working smarter, you can get more out of your day and still have time at the end of the day to focus on things other than work.
- Prioritize - Set your priorities so you know what needs to be done first, second, third and so forth. Be sure to be realistic as you are prioritizing and handle what needs to be a priority. By realistic, I mean asking yourself: “Does that task really need to be done today or can I get to it tomorrow?”
It’s easy to get lost in our work, but it’s important to remember that it’s only one part of life. After all, there’s a reason we call it work-life balance.
Starting a family and concerned about job stress and work-life fit? Improve stress management with our free guide to navigating the 7 Stages of New Parent Stress.