Work / Life Balance
MANAGING YOUR TIME
If you’re truly going to act on your priorities, you need to dedicate time to them. Map out your priorities on a calendar to create a “typical” week, with time dedicated to each priority. Exercise, work, family time, and so forth. Start with the “big rocks” which are the most important and least flexible responsibilities, maybe work and your children’s sports schedules. Then, decide when you get your best work done. For example, your job may require time for “deep-thinking” so maybe dedicate one day per week to be meeting-free
One of the biggest struggles is fitting it all in to 24 hours. Waking up at 4 AM gives extra hours in the day, and this quiet time can allow you to complete projects before the rest of the house wakes up.
Make time for hobbies, passions, and relationships outside of work. Have a nice long dinner with a friend, or a 45-minute coffee during the day, this is better than not seeing your friends at all. Maybe go for a run or exercise.
Instead of multi-tasking, look for ways to overlap things. Example: When my kids were little, I had no time for hobbies, but I was dying to try photography... So I introduced it to my seven-year old son, thinking he might like it, too. He was hooked, and so we started taking pictures all over the city together. It became the perfect overlap of time together with a hobby for me.
We need to elongate the time frame upon which we judge the balance in our life, but we need to elongate it without falling into the trap of the "I'll have a life when I retire, when my kids have left home, when my wife has divorced me, my health is failing, I've got no mates or interests left." A day is too short; "after I retire" is too long. There's got to be a middle way. Nigel Marsh
TAKING TIME FOR YOU
When you have a good chunk of time to yourself do you feel obligated to get other work things done, like emails or phone calls? Instead use this time to truly reduce your stress level by taking a yoga class or exercising. A quick burst of exercise is a good method to calm your spinning head, or enjoy some light-hearted TV or an ice cream or coffee date with a friend.
Block out "me time" in the early evening. Even if you know that you’re going to get back online later and work, you’ll see that you’re a lot more likely to go to the gym, see friends, or cook a nice family dinner if you give yourself 7-9 PM "off" to do those things before getting back online.
HAVING A SOCIAL LIFE
While you usually reserve fun things for the weekends, plan at least one enjoyable activity during the week. You'll be able to head into your work week with something to look forward to and have a way to blow off some steam if the week starts off too strong.
Schedule recurring social activities, like a monthly book club or weekly dinner with your best friends. By having regular activities like this written into your calendar, you'll be able to plan around them (instead of planning your social life around work).
If you start telling people you need to leave at a certain time, you’ll be much more likely to do so. Make the commitment to yourself, and then share it with others: As you discuss plans and assignments throughout the day, tell your colleagues, “I’ve got to be out of here on time tonight, so if you need something, let me know by 3 PM.” Try this method one day, then another, and then the next. Eventually, you’ll retrain your employees to expect you to leave on time every day.
Ever find yourself staying at work because you don't have a reason not to? Make reasons to leave. Join groups or sign up for exercises classes that meet after work so you have to sign out at a reasonable hour. Make plans with friends ahead of time so you can't back out and just stick around the office.
You have to plan when you'll leave for the night at the beginning of the day. That means understanding what needs to get done for the day and getting it done first so you aren't scrambling after hours to finish up. Also, block out the last 20 minutes before you plan to leave to wrap up loose ends, so you aren't trying to send "one more email" after you were already supposed to head out.
Sometimes when you feel surrounded by work, it’s because, well, you’re surrounding yourself with work. So, be deliberate about taking time before work, after work, or on your lunch break to step away from the office. Call your significant other, your mom, or your best friend, and ask what’s going on with them, avoiding the temptation to discuss anything even remotely work-related. Your job may be your focus for the rest of the day, but for a few minutes, move it to the back burner and focus on something (anything) else.
Consider some highlights of your perfect day. What would you really enjoy doing? What’s absolutely necessary for you to get done? Identify what tools or extras would make the mandatory work easier to complete. Aromatherapy while you grade papers? A powerful run? Figure out what can help you, and build it into your day.
ENJOYING WEEKENDS AND VACATION
Instead of saving all of your life chores for Sunday, get them out of the way as soon as possible, either by doing them first thing Saturday morning or dispersing them throughout the week. That way, instead of spending your last few hours of free time on Sunday night scrubbing the bathtub, you'll be able to fill it with something fun and relaxing. Katie Douthwaite
Carve out some time on the weekends—at least a few hours, but ideally a whole day—to stay away from screens. Put your computer and phone away and turn off the TV, then do something physical or creative that you really love. Go for a run. Draw. Write. Your mind will be a little more refreshed and a little sharper by the end of it.
The weekends are often a double-edged sword. The feeling of being ahead on Monday morning if you worked during the weekend is great, but the feeling of losing any of your precious weekend/family-time to work sucks. Started doing some of the more mindless work while you watched a movie on Sunday nights or the game, you still get a full weekend, but you’re also ahead on Monday.
The nature of this industry is that there will never be an easy time to take time off, no matter how well you plan for it in advance. But that's no reason to not go at all. It's in your best interests to be well-rested and recharged, and vacation time is a benefit that you've earned, just like salary, so you should use it. So instead of waiting for the perfect time—which may never come along—decide that you will use your vacation time this year, and make the question one of whataccommodations should be made, rather than whether accommodations can be made.
If you don't have enough PTO to take a full vacation, try taking a day off here and there for a “staycation” or long weekend. It may not seem like much, but taking just a day or two to break out of the 9-to-5 grind can do wonders.
MAKING TIME FOR FAMILY
- There is a phrase used by Hillary Clinton that stems from an African proverb: “It takes a village.” And it does! Getting comfortable with others lending you a hand helps not only to give you comfort that your kids are in good hands, but it helps take the stress away.
“Flexible hours enabled by technology can allow parents to perform well at their jobs and take care of young children at the same time. If you're an employee, talk with your boss about how working from home could boost your productivity, remembering to share some specific examples of how your work will improve.” Richard Branson
GETTING CHORES DONE
Make your grocery run as efficient as possible by making a list coordinated to aisles or store sections. Take advantage of coupon apps (many grocery stores have them). And if the whole family has to come along, get everyone involved: If you can walk, you can shop.
Do your least favorite chore at the beginning of each week, it feels entirely more manageable, not to mention frees you of the burden throughout the rest of the week. The feeling of work burnout tends to increase as the week moves forward, so by frontloading your work week evenings with your least favorite tasks, you can reserve the more enjoyable work night activities for the end of the week. Monday is for laundry, Tuesday is for vacuuming and bills, Wednesday is for dry cleaning, Thursday is for a DVR marathon. And so on.
When trying to fit more in, minimize the amount of time doing anything you have to do. Try setting a goal to have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less. You'd be surprised how many things can be cooked in 25-30 minutes, and it's a surefire way of getting time back several times a week. Bonus points for cooking several meals' worth on Sunday night and only having five minutes of reheat time.
Get creative with what chores you can outsource (and therefore avoid!). There are plenty of services out there that will take care of your least favorite tasks for you, from cleaning and cooking to laundry and shopping.