Work-life balance is a short phrase that seems simple, but is elusive for most of us in the working world. Sometimes it may feel like you don't have enough hours in the day, or enough energy to give both your job and family the attention they need. While it's up for debate whether true balance between work and life at home actually exists, here are 10 things you can do to help move the pendulum back in your favor:
Identify Your Values
Finding work-life balance doesn't mean finding a 50-50 split. Instead, it's a reflection of your values and what you want from each sphere of your life (home and work). Identify your core values so you can make deliberate choices about how you prioritize and allocate your time.
Focus on the Long-Term
Instead of zeroing in on the 24 hours you have each day, take a broader view. Focus on the week ahead—your goals, activities, and leisure time. When you take a long-term view of your schedule, you may find that you have more wiggle room than you initially expected, which can help you achieve a better balance between your responsibilities at home and at the office.
For many of us, it's hard to say those two letters. However, saying "no" is critical to managing your time, and can help you stay in line with your values and vision. If something is not a priority for you right now, it's OK to say no. This will free up time so you can commit to the things that do matter.
Set Your Work Schedule
In the past, you used to arrive at the office at 9 a.m., work until 5 p.m., and then spend the rest of the evening with your family and friends. But today, thanks to technology, you're expected to be accessible 24/7, which makes it difficult to leave work at the office. Instead, set work hours for yourself and stick to them. Without clear boundaries, it's easy to let work take over the majority of the hours in your day and week.
Make a Short List
You probably have a lengthy list of goals, objectives, and to-dos. It's easy to let that list run your life, but instead, curate a short list of daily priorities—three to five things that must happen that day. This manageable list can help you stay focused on the most important tasks. Everything else? If you get to it, great. If not, no big deal.
Schedule (and Protect) "Me Time"
If you're like most people, you need to schedule time for a task or event or it won't happen—especially if it's not work-related (family time, happy hour with friends, or your hobbies). Penciling time for yourself into your calendar not only helps you visually see and balance your time, but it also allows your leisure time to have the same importance as your work-related events.
While exercising may feel like a luxury when you're strapped for time, it's an important part of maintaining work-life balance. It helps you stay energized, focused, and motivated, not to mention healthy. It's impossible to be a good boss, employee, partner, or friend if you aren't taking care of your own health, so make sure to include it in your schedule.
Lean on Your Support Network
They say it takes a village to raise a family (and run a household and hold down a demanding job), and it really does. While you likely pride yourself on being self-sufficient and independent, it's okay to ask for help from friends and family members. You can even hire someone to help when you need it.
Take a Mental Health Day
Take a day off to take care of yourself and recharge when you're feeling emotionally and mentally spent—whether you're coming off a super busy time at work or dealing with another challenge in your life. Use your mental health day to do things that help you reconnect with yourself, and you'll end up returning to work feeling revitalized.
If taking a full mental health day is impossible, unplug from your devices (all of them!) for a period of time. For instance, consider going off the grid for the first hour of your morning and the hour before you go to bed. Time away from the screen allows you to focus on the things that matter the most—family, friends, and the life right in front of you. Plus, you'll have quiet time to reflect, think, and fuel your creative juices.
Remember that everyone's version of work-life balance will be different. The important thing is to experiment and find what works best for you so that you can give both your job and family the attention they deserve, without losing your sanity.