Many of us spend a significant percentage of each day in a reactive state when it comes to our jobs, our families, our social lives, and the many competing interests vying for our attention. As ambitious and hard-working individuals we try to set laser focused goals but are often overwhelmed and derailed by unexpected challenges, frequent interruptions, and daily distractions. We adapt to these delays by attempting to do more with less. But, the more we take on the more we struggle to find balance. In times like these, it becomes increasingly important that we pause. Climbing out of this cycle requires a course-correction and that we act intentionally and purposefully to find balance and seek a greater sense of personal well-being.
Implementing healthy routines into our everyday lives can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed or overworked. As well, these intentional acts allow us to take ownership of our behaviors and our pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Achieving a state of well-being and balance can not only restore our energy, it can also more directly tie our work to a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Many recent studies, in fact, have shown that the correlation between well-being and workplace satisfaction is greater than other less intrinsic factors such as compensation. With this knowledge, smart organizations and individuals should look for ways to promote opportunities for achieving a more balanced life.
Here are our top 3 ways to achieve work-life balance.
Managing our time begins with setting realistic expectations for ourselves. Consider blocking time in your calendar for each task in a week – but intentionally add 50% more time than you think you will need. This trick will not only offset our natural desire to do too much, but it may also create opportunities to incorporate breathing space as you jump from one task to the next.
If a calendar is not the best way for you to visualize your work, consider creating a bulleted to-do list with due dates or reminders. Make sure however to prioritize. Prioritizing will help you to clearly identify the hot action items on your list.
Another recommendation is to utilize all available resources. Take advantage of technologies, tools, and people to make your work easier. Often we avoid these resources because the added step of learning a new tool or delegating a task slows us down. Set aside specific time to learn those skills or to build those relationships so that you can effectively rely on them in the future. A little time up front pays great dividends in the long run.
A lot of us pride ourselves on the ability to do multiple things at one time. What if I were to tell you that juggling multiple things at once isn’t really being productive at all? Juggling multiple tasks at once is actually very ineffective. Recent research has shown that those who multitask perform worse because their concentration is diverted. This effect is multiplied when we try to balance completing work tasks, while simultaneously taking care of things in our personal lives. Resisting the urge to multitask, and allowing ourselves to focus on one thing at a time is a great first step in achieving a healthy level of balance.
Take Time to Care for Self
In our busy and complex lives, we place a tremendous focus on achieving goals, accomplishing tasks, and caring for others. With so much of our focus on external needs, we tend to forget to take care of ourselves. Taking time for self-care improves our attitude and mood and generally make us feel better. It is also important to remind yourself that you can say no. You don’t have to be everywhere at once. Instead of using your free time to complete last minute assignments or send those last minute emails. Consider yoga, meditation, a good nap or catching up with friends. Self-care is your number one way to achieve work-life balance.