Simple Techniques to Balance Work and Life
Technology has made it harder to draw the line between work and every day life. Video calls, emails, and the constant notifications from productivity and messaging apps can intrude at any time of the day. And even when you’re not working, you’re thinking about work—or feel guilty about not doing it.
However, work-life balance is important for your mental health, family relationships, or even your productivity. If you don’t give your mind and body time to rest, the accumulated stress will wear you down. You won’t be able to focus, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or take your bad mood out on your co-workers.
But how do you draw the line, and create healthy boundaries that allow you to stand out at work, but still have time for yourself? Here are simple techniques to balance work and life.
Set SMART goals for different areas of your life
Work is just one area of our life. Just like you plan a project or a meeting, you also need to set goals for other things that are important to your physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being.
Write down one goal for each of these areas (you can add more areas, if you like):
- Health and fitness
- Relationships and Family
- Community involvement or “giving back”
- Fun and entertainment
The more concrete the goal, the more likely that you’ll actually make time for it and recognize the positive impact on your life. Use SMART goals: specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-sensitive. For example, “Exercise for at least 1 hour, three times a week in order to lower my blood pressure.”
When you’re at home, set your notifications on silent. Make simple rules, like “no gadgets at the dinner table” or “no emails after 7pm”. Use this personal time to be fully focused on yourself and your family.
It’s also important to stop using any gadgets at least one hour before you go to bed. The blue light emitted by screens actually interferes with our circadian rhythms, and can make it harder to fall asleep.
Block off Me Time and Family Time
You’d never miss a meeting with an important client—but time with yourself and your family is just as important, too.
To ensure that you have adequate personal time, block it off just like you would any other work-related event. And this shouldn’t be just on weekends or vacation time, either! Be sure to spend at least one hour a day doing something you love, or being with someone you love.
Learn to say No
Do you always find yourself agreeing to take on extra tasks, or dropping everything because of a supposed emergency at the office? You have to know when to refuse work, reschedule it, or when it’s actually worth doing right now.
To do this, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix.
- Is it urgent and important? Do it, but drop something else from your to-do list
- Is it urgent, but not important? Delegate or do it as quickly as possible – don’t aim for perfection, just get it done
- Is it important, but not urgent? Plug it into your schedule
- Is it neither urgent nor important? Drop the task
Work-life balance isn’t just about finding more time for yourself, but also using that time in a meaningful way. For example, are all the hours you spend on social media really contributing to your happiness? What about using that time on something you really love, like learning a new hobby or having quality time with your kids?
Also identify people or activities who waste too much of your time, like the office chatterbox or after-work drinks before a busy day. Learn to politely say no, and take back your time for more important and meaningful things.
Balance starts with boundaries
Balancing work and life is important for your happiness and your health. Set priorities and boundaries. Take back your time and use it to achieve personal goals, and get more satisfaction in all areas of your life.