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I would always chuckle at work when we were in a company meeting about work life balance. The presenter would be talking about how important it is to have a solid work life balance so that you can be happy and healthy. Yet as she was telling us this, all I could think about were the late night emails and voicemails from my boss about the various projects at work. Clearly, he didn’t get the memo.
Sadly though, it wasn’t only him, it was just about every boss I worked for. It’s like they are tuned out of these meetings or they only focus on the work side of the work life balance equation. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to achieve a solid work life balance. Here are some tips.
5 Tips To Achieve Work Life Balance
Determine What Is Important
I know it’s basic, but I swear by the 80/20 rule. I sit down and list everything I have to do and then I sort that list based on priority. If you are someone not familiar with the 80/20 rule, it states that 20% of the things we do account for 80% of our success. The other 80% of things are time fillers.
So, make a list and put at the top the things that are the most urgent or the things that will lead to the most success. Note that many times these won’t be the easiest tasks to complete. If you find yourself with a list that is still a mile long, then you need to really dig in and analyze things because there is most likely a lot of stuff on your to do list that is not a priority.
I don’t know who the fool was that thought multi-tasking was a great idea, but it wasn’t. Multi-tasking is a complete waste of time. Study after study proves this, but I realized it a few years ago myself. I remember how productive I used to be and how attentive to detail I was. But now I seem to get less done, forget about things and make mistakes.
It was all because I was multi-tasking. When multi-tasking, you aren’t focusing 100% of your attention on the job at hand. Your mind is wandering all over the place. This leads to mistakes and work that is not up to par with your talents. It might sound like a good thing to get 2 things done at once, but you would be better at simply focusing on one thing at a time.
Schedule Me Time
No matter how busy you are, you have to schedule in some me time to get away and recharge. I’ve found simply getting up from my desk and taking a quick 5-10 minute walk to be a lifesaver. When I was just sitting at my desk trying to power through things, I became distracted more easily and got less and less work done.
But when I went for the short walk and came back, I was focused and energized and was back to working hard. Trust me, you can afford to walk away for a few minutes. It will allow you to accomplish more when you get back than you would have had you stayed at your desk.
There are two parts to this one – both at work and at home. For managing technology at work, first turn off alerts on your computer whenever a new email comes in. I know that when the little envelope would show up in the corner of my screen, I would always click through to read it. Next thing I knew, I was knee deep in something else. Turn off the alerts!
Next, pick times to check your email. It doesn’t have to only be once or twice a day, but choose a few set times. Pick first thing in the morning, then after you take a break to get some coffee, then again after lunch and finally 15 minutes before you leave. Find what works for you. The key is to simply stop checking every 5 minutes and focus on the task at hand.
For managing technology at home, you have to set some limits. I would check my email once a night around 8pm. Most times the emails are not urgent and can wait for me to reply until the next morning. This is the key – you have to know what is urgent and stick to your guns about not replying until morning for the non-urgent issues. Otherwise, you will have zero work life balance. You will only have work.
At first your boss might get concerned as to why you aren’t replying, so be sure to inform them of your plans. In time, you will find they too will learn that what isn’t urgent can wait until morning as well (at least in my experience this was the case!).
Finally, to achieve a work life balance, you need to have fun. Go do the things you love to do, whether that is going for a run, reading a book, working in the garden, whatever. You have to do these things otherwise you are going to resent life, and not just work, but your family as well. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself to do the things you love to do. It is a must if you want to be happy.
In the end, achieving a solid work life balance is completely within your control. You have to make the effort to do it, because no one else is going to do it for you. I encourage you to read about strategies to in order to find some ideas that work best for you, but at the end of the day, that time researching will be a waste if you don’t take actionable steps to actually achieve a work life balance.
Readers, do you have a good work life balance? Are there any tips you can share?
[Photo Credit: peddhapati]