The work-life balance challenge – How to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance

If you have a busy career, attaining a healthy work-life balance can be a real challenge. There are many benefits to finding a good balance between work and home life, including less stress and increased productivity. Other benefits include improved relationships with family and friends and improved mental health. Once you follow a few simple steps, gaining the correct work-life balance is easy. Read on to discover some tips and tricks that will help you deal with the stress of a demanding job so you can attain the level of balance that works best for you.

Tips to Prioritize

When you establish goals and prioritize tasks, you can get more done while gaining more free time. Try these techniques to help you set goals so that you can be more productive.

  • Try SMART Goals: The term SMART goals is an acronym that stands for keeping things Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Start by being very specific with your goals, then work on them in a meaningful and measurable way. Always be sure that every goal is completely attainable and that they’re reasonable and relevant to you. Finally, give each goal a set time limit so that you’re not spending too much of your time on just one thing. Write down how you’ll accomplish each letter of the acronym and separate each task into “buckets” so they’re easy to manage and achieve separately.

  • GTD: The term GTD stands for Getting Things Done and involves moving all of your tasks out of your mind, then separating each item into smaller chunks that are easier to achieve. With the GTD method, you’ll need to attach a time limit to each task. This makes it easier to do more in a shorter period of time without putting too much focus on any one particular thing at once. The main mantra of GTD is to “capture, clarify, organize, review, and engage.” Follow each of these steps carefully, and you’ll be able to prioritize your tasks more effectively.

  • Journaling: Another easy way to prioritize tasks is to write them down on paper. Make a list of all work and home-related goals, then separate each by the due date or in order of importance. Determine how much time you’re willing to spend on each goal or task, then allot your time accordingly. When you write this down, it’s much easier to eliminate tasks that aren’t really necessary while focusing more on the things you can actually achieve.

Organization 101

Good organization is the key to a successful work-life balance. Here are some tips to help you stay organized whether you’re at the office or doing hybrid or remote work.

Tips for creating and following a schedule

  • How to start: Start creating a schedule by simply writing everything down that you need to accomplish for the week or month. Once your list is in place, shuffle the tasks by order of importance or expediency. You can do this on a calendar, a sheet of paper, or on a dry erase board in your office so you can easily see everything in front of you at once. You can find templates online if you need help getting started.

  • Use digital tools: There are plenty of helpful digital tools at your disposal. Consider adding your tasks to things like Google Calendars or a board like Trello to help you organize items by priority and due date.

  • Track your time: Keep track of the time you’re spending on each task. There are several timers you can add to your web browser that can help you see how much time is being spent every day on any one particular task.

Avoid distractions

  • Close unused tabs: Stay focused on work by closing out any tabs on your web browser you’re not using, like social media or news websites. This will help reduce distractions while you’re working on a task.

  • Find a quiet place to work: Whether you’re going to the office, doing hybrid work, or doing full-time remote work, set up your office so you can get work done in a quiet area without a lot of outside noise.

  • Try headphones: If you prefer to work in complete silence, consider using a pair of noise-reducing headphones to make concentrating easier.

  • Turn off your phone: Unless you need your smartphone for work, turn it off or put it on silent until your day is over.

Organizing your time

  • Try the 4 Ds: The 4 Ds method encourages you to determine what to do, what to delay, what to delegate to others, and what to delete or drop. Apply this method to each task so it’s easier to determine which items should require most of your time.

  • The ABC Method: Start each day with a list of tasks, then assign them the letters A, B, or C. The A tasks are your first priority, then B tasks, and so on. This makes it easier to determine which items should be done first every day.

  • The Pomodoro Technique: This popular technique involves breaking larger tasks into short, timed intervals known as Pomodoros. Each task should be spaced by short breaks. The idea is that this method teaches you to focus for shorter periods while you stay on top of deadlines and improve your attention span.

  • SCRUM: This method is team-based and encourages each member to learn through experience, self-delegate, and self-organize when working on a problem, and most importantly, reflecting on wins and losses to determine how to improve.

Organizing your home

  • Declutter: Too much clutter makes it difficult to concentrate, so start by decluttering every room and either selling, donating, storing, or disposing of things you no longer want or need. When you get rid of excess stuff, staying focused on the task at hand is much easier. It’s also essential to make sure your office clutter is kept to a minimum as much as possible.

  • Organize your files: If you deal with a lot of paperwork, use a filing system so that it’s easier to keep important information close at hand. Organize files in alphabetical order and use a locked file cabinet to store confidential information.

  • Keep it organized: If you do work from home, dedicate just a few minutes each day to go around your home and pick up stray items, put dishes away, and do a simple cleaning, so everything stays neat and tidy every day. When you start your day with a clean home, you’ll feel much more relaxed and able to take on your busy tasks.

  • Separate work and home items: Keep all of your work-related items in the home office or at the office itself, and leave home goods in their proper places. For example, keep your laptop or desktop on a desk in a separate part of the home and don’t use it while sitting on the couch. This will make it much easier to mentally separate your work tasks from doing things like spending time at home with your family. 

Create more family time

The key to a healthy work-life balance is finding more time to spend with your family, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Communication is key: Sit down and talk to your family about your current job arrangements. It’s important to establish boundaries now so that there’s no miscommunication later. For example, if you’re busy during certain hours and can’t be bothered, let your family know in advance.

  • Allow others to help: Don’t be afraid to delegate certain chores to other family members or to your coworkers. Create a list of family tasks for each member to complete so they are doing their part to maintain the home.

  • Start a family hobby or project: Whether it’s a home improvement project or a fun hobby, come up with something you can do as a family together that’s enjoyable and fun.

  • Plan regular family outings: Set aside time as often as possible to have some fun family outings. Whether it’s a trip to the movies or a weekend getaway, spending time having fun together is key to a happy work-life balance.

Balancing Work and Life

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to balance your career with your life.

  • Establish boundaries with work: Learn how to say no when someone asks you to do something outside of your regular schedule. It’s also essential to learn when to disconnect by turning off your phone or determining a time of day when you’ll stop answering emails.

  • Hybrid Work Model: The hybrid work model has some benefits, including seeing your coworkers in person while still having days to work from home. People who need to attend occasional meetings but can achieve most tasks remotely seem to benefit from this model. Use tools like time blocking and the ABC method to prioritize your goals and achieve a good balance.

  • Working from Home: Not having to sit in traffic or dress in professional attire benefits from working from home. You also have more freedom and control over your schedule and how you spend your time. There are different techniques that will help you balance the digital work at home. Try the Pomodoro method to keep your life and work in balance by putting your tasks into smaller, bite-sized chunks you can manage more easily. Find a quiet space to work where you can avoid distractions and set boundaries with your family in advance to help you get things done.

  • Going to the Office: A benefit to actually working from the office is that you have more personal interaction and better communication with coworkers. The downside is that you need transportation to and from work, and it tends to leave you with less free time at home. Learn how to say no when it comes to work outside of your regular hours and utilize most of your free time at home by spending it with your family.

  • Tips for entrepreneurs/business owners: Being your own boss is the ultimate form of freedom; however, it often requires harder work and more time to ensure things are running smoothly. If you are running a business from home, try to use the GTD technique to help you get things done in order of importance and delegate tasks like customer service or shipping to others whenever possible. Use time management tools to focus on building your business while allotting some of your precious time to spend with your family or use these tips to boost remote working productivity. 

Create time for Yourself

The key to a good work-life balance is to make time for relaxation and self-care so you can gain some mental and physical health benefits.

  • Build downtime into your schedule: Always set aside time for yourself and your family and stick to it. Don’t change this time, and make sure you set boundaries to ensure you have plenty of off-time to enjoy.

  • Tips for a self-care routine: Practice healthy habits like eating a balanced diet, getting rest, and sleeping regularly. Feel free to relax with a hot bubble bath or do some yoga or meditation to help encourage healthy mindfulness.

  • Define what you need: Determine what’s most important to you, and make sure you include it in your schedule, whether it’s playing sports, going to concerts, or enjoying mini-vacations. Having time to do what you enjoy is crucial to a happy social life and successful career.

  • Exercise: Participate in some form of physical activity as often as possible to help you stay healthy. Carve out some time for exercise and find a workout plan that you enjoy. Try walking around the neighborhood, enrolling in a workout program, or joining your local gym.

  • Determine what you can do: Remember to be realistic with your time and only do the things that will make you feel the most fulfilled. Dedicate a set amount of time each week to enjoy doing what you love, whether it’s simple relaxation, working on a hobby, or spending time with your friends.

  • Communicate with others: Let your friends, family, boss, and coworkers know that you need some time for yourself. Set boundaries upfront and stick to your work-related and personal tasks schedule.

Take Care of Your Home

A clean, well-maintained home will help you feel better about focusing on your job. Here are some quick tips to help you take care of your home.

  • Change A/C Filters: Always change the filters in your HVAC system once a month. This will keep your system running smoothly and the air inside your home clean and free of dust and other particles. If you’re worried about remembering to replace them monthly, look for filters that last between 60-90 days.

  • Take care of the yard: Set aside some time to do yard work so that your landscaping looks nice. Put tasks like raking leaves, mowing the grass, or gardening on your schedule and incorporate it into your routine. You can also delegate things like yardwork to your kids to help give you a break.

  • Practice routine maintenance: Have major components of your home like the roof, gutters, appliances, and HVAC system inspected regularly. This will not only save you time but can also save you money on costly repairs in the future.

  • Check for issues: Occasionally, it’s important to look around your home to see if there are any issues, such as drafts coming through doors or windows, areas that need paint touch-ups, and problems with major appliances. When you check these things routinely, you’ll be able to handle any issues that arise much faster.

  • Cleaning your house: Do some simple tidying up every day to make major cleaning easier. Set aside a day or specific time once a week to deep clean your home, do some laundry, and clean up the living room and kitchen. Wash linens like bath towels and sheets each week so you start your work week fresh with clean bedding and towels. 

With some simple time management and organizational methods, you can achieve a better work-life balance. From going to the office each day, remote work, or the hybrid model to being a full-blown entrepreneur, the key to a happy life is to make time for the things and the people you love. Use these tips to help you stay organized, productive, and happy no matter what your career requires.

by Teresa Siqueira