Gone were the days when we can leave work outside the front door. Today, work-life balance has become a distant reality. Since the start of this pandemic, the line that separates work from our personal life has ceased to exist as the majority of the workforce are left without a choice but to work from home.
This brought on the new, toxic normal where 50% of workers across America prefer to work from their own homes and for longer hours that range from 50 hours to 65 hours a week. With unending workdays, just imagine the toll of this situation on our health, relationships, and overall well-being.
Don’t wait until your body tells you it’s too tired to do another hour of work, for important people in your life to feel neglected, and for stress to completely take over. When the boundaries have been blurred, take charge and draw the line. Here are 6 tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance.
Get out of bed early.
Most successful people are early risers. Bill McNabb, Chairman of the Vanguard Group, wakes up at 5 a.m. and starts work at 6:15. Melody McCloskey, founder and CEO of StyleSeat, gets up at 5:45 a.m. to do an hour of organizing. She claims this habit is the best way for her to maintain a high level of productivity and positivity throughout the day. L. Rafael Reif, President of M.I.T., also sets his alarm for 6 a.m. but wakes up at 5 or 5:30 on his own. He checks his emails for urgent messages and takes his tablet to breakfast to read the latest news.
The list goes on and on because even though it’s counterintuitive, waking up early surprisingly gives you more energy to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Because our brains are more alert in the morning, we get to start our day with wins. We can finish high-priority tasks without interruptions or perhaps make important decisions with a clear and sound mind. And though these wins might seem small, they have a powerful effect. They motivate us to keep winning throughout the day.
This simple habit instantly adds more hours to our day and helps us to get more things done minus with a positive attitude. So start slow. Try getting up 15 minutes earlier each day until your body is used to getting up at 5 a.m. Go to sleep early and avoid eating before bedtime because it’s known to disrupt sleep patterns.
Make a firm decision to get out of bed and if it’s a struggle, reward yourself for waking up early. Treat yourself to a cup of coffee from your favorite shop. Keep it simple, no need to be extravagant. Continue this routine for 30 days until getting up at 5 a.m. becomes a habit.
Set a schedule for answering messages.
A common problem among people that struggle with work-life balance is how they take work everywhere. Even during family time, they’re strapped to their phones and laptops just checking and responding to work-related emails and notifications for hours. This can hurt your personal relationships and take hours away from your daily schedule.
In a study that involved over a thousand adults in the U.S., Adobe found that 76% of the participants frequently check for work-related emails when they’re outside the office. Only 24% claim otherwise. This proves the sad truth that only a few of us know how to set a healthy boundary between our work and personal lives, and that the majority of us have let ourselves become slaves to distractions.
To avoid spending hours just checking and answering work-related messages, set a strict schedule for yourself. Choose an hour of your day to devote to this task alone and once you’re done, log out of your work email and turn off your notifications. Even better, leave your devices in another room.
Stop saying yes all the time.
Being agreeable and helpful are traits of a great team player, but what’s the use of being one when you’re unhappy and overwhelmed with work? You need to assert yourself and set boundaries. If not, you’ll find yourself in challenging situations where you’re doing things that are beyond your capacity, against your personal values, or worse, things that can cost you to lose your job.
Avoid trouble and win the work-life battle by reframing your mindset. Teach yourself that sometimes, the best decision is to say no. It’ll be tough in the beginning, but the more you practice saying it, the easier it gets. If you don’t know what to say, here are 50 ways to say no in a polite and professional manner.
Do something that you every day.
For most of us, the weekend is the only time that we can do things we love. This is our way of recharging after a week filled with work. But let’s be honest, two days just isn’t enough to replenish our cup. We can’t treat our weekdays like they’re weekends, either. That would be counter-productive.
So how do you create a healthy work-life balance throughout the week? Simple, give yourself some “me-time” every day. Start by making a list of all the things that you enjoy doing, both big and small. Your list can look like this:
- Going on a hike with your friends.
- Getting a tan at the local beach.
- Trying your hand at cooking new recipes.
- Walking your dog around the neighborhood.
- Playing a board game with your kids.
- Reading a romantic novel.
- Listening to new songs and creating your own playlist.
Next, identify the things that you can do on a daily basis without having to spend a lot of time and money. Write them down in a separate list. Now, select a convenient time in your day, it could be early in the morning or after dinner. During that time, pull out the list with all the small things you enjoy and choose something to do for that day.
Exercise and meditate.
When you exercise, your body excretes endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones that make you feel happy, motivated and confident about yourself. Being in this positive state of mind helps in increasing your endurance and efficacy at work. You can get things done and not feel burned out.
Finding the time to exercise can be difficult but it’s time to stop making excuses. You can do it anytime if you are intentional about it. Even a 30-minute jog can have a huge impact on your mood. And if you hate fitness, you can ask a friend or family member to be your workout buddy so someone will hold you accountable and motivate you to exercise. If no one volunteers, you can enroll in workout classes or hire a fitness instructor.
Meditation is equally important. When our minds are calm and composed, we can make smarter decisions and as a result, become more efficient at work. So, commit 5 to 30 minutes of your day to meditation. Find a quiet place without any distractions, get into a comfortable position, and let your mind relax. Breathe slowly and deeply, focus on your breathing. If you’re having a hard time getting into the zone, here’s our guide on meditation for beginners.
Reach out for help.
You’re not Superman. You can’t save the entire world while working a full-time job. You get tired. You get sick. You get overwhelmed and all of that is totally normal. Say that to the millions of Americans that feel the same way. Which is why you shouldn’t be scared or embarrassed to ask for help or to delegate some of your tasks to other people.
Reach out to family and friends for help around the house. As for career-related tasks, outsource them. Find someone in your circle who’s looking to earn extra through a side hustle. And if that doesn’t work out, you can always go online and hire through sites like Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Upwork.