Work life balance is a conversation heard around the “water cooler.” We think about how we can equalize our work and our play. But perhaps it’s how we keep our professional life in check and prioritize our personal goals. Recently surveys show that less than half of us are feeling that we are successful with this. A recent survey shared that 40% of men and 33.2% of women were satisfied with their work life balance. It seems this is an area where we aspire to have better strategies. Which one of these will help you create more work life balance?
Write it all down, then schedule
My favorite quote, “the biggest lie I tell myself is that I can remember it all.” When it comes to work life balance, writing it all down is the best first step. When you write it ALL down, you see where you are spending time and getting stuff done. It’s a “time audit” of where you spend your time and how in balance you are. The secret to writing it all down is to schedule your work and your play. It might be surprising but you must schedule your play time too. Research shows that we are happier with scheduled time away from work. Vacations and mini-vacations improve happiness, health and connections. Write it all in to insure you are reinforcing your work life balance.
Use your one best tool (planner)
Having a planner is the first step. But the secret to using your planner for work life balance is scheduling transition time. A busy schedule requires time to transition. It’s important to write in your transition times, like the time to travel between meetings or picking up kids. Also write in preparation time for upcoming meetings and homework time for classes you are taking. It’s not just the appointments that matter; it’s the time in between.
Keep the big picture prioritized
Not sure what’s most important? While most of us think of getting all tasks checked off, prioritizing requires keeping a big picture of what 1,2 or 3 things make the most difference in our work and life. Most of us would say our family is our priority and making money at work is a priority. The secret is to not get too bogged down with all the little tasks. All the little tasks can be overwhelming and stressful. Everyday make a deliberate effort at these 2 priorities in some small way. You are on your way to balance. Put away your perfectionism too. It’s getting in the way of you acknowledging your successes.
Weekly planning time
The secret to keeping calm is planning. Your weekly planning time reinforces your values and priorities. It’s when you take a big picture view of your week and take note of all the tasks. It really pulls together your calendar and helps you prepare for your week. When you know what’s ahead you are ready for a successful week. No more surprises when you have weekly planning time.
Align energy and task
I follow the Energy Project, a resource that believes that “science tells us that we perform at our best when we move regularly between expending and renewing energy.” The concept applies to how we align our energy and the task. The secret to work life balance is that when you are working at a difficult project with high energy, then you are at your most efficient. In addition, the Energy Project reinforces the idea of playing hard too. It’s about renewing your energy to be ready to tackle difficult projects. It’s a secret time saver and productivity tip.
Create routines and themes (daily, weekly, or monthly)
Developing robust routines makes for work life balance. Routines help us get stuff done regularly and consistently. You can have Money Monday or Financial Friday when you focus only on finances that day. You might have a checklists for your morning. You might have a weekly routine of Gym time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. In our home we have Gigi Friday every week where the grands come play that afternoon. Check out what holds you accountable to your routine and why that works.
Host a Pajama Day
We all want a day with no makeup and nothing to do. Host a pajama day at least once a month and possibly once a week. That’s the day you stay in your pajamas and just relax. It’s a day with no demands and no schedule. You will be amazed how balanced you feel at the end of the day.
Intentional start to your day
Prayer, yoga, and exercise are all intentional ways to begin your day. Starting your day in a centered, mindful way helps you maintain balance throughout the day. Prayer helps us be grateful and mindful of our blessings. Yoga and exercise center us in the moment, breath deeply and feel our being. Choose a mindful practice that boosts your brain and helps your work life balance.
Eat dinner with your family and have a date night with your honey
Dinner time is our time to connect with our family and friends. Dinner is when conversations big and small take front and center. These conversations are a break from the daily grind. Eat dinner with your family or friends to stay connected and in the know. Weekly date night keeps the spark going in a relationship. Research shows when couples share an evening together there is improved communication and commitment. A simple date night can be a walk or bike ride. Date night reinforces why you and your partner met and mingled.
Taking control of technology is required for work life balance. Technology is everywhere all the time. The secret to disconnecting is setting boundaries. No tech times include overnight, meals together or whatever you know to be one on one time. Choose a common charging spot not in your bedroom to support restful sleep. Check your email 3 times a day to work on it and not be overwhelmed by it. Be present and keep your tech in control.
A team approach helps everyone. Your team can be collaboratively, working together on a project. You can delegate and share a responsibility on a task. You can have a coach who helps keep you accountable and helps you navigate your responsibilities. These are all ways to engage with others to do your best work. How to create a team? Find resources in your area such as American Business Women’s Association, a local chapter of the industry you are in or the Chamber of Commerce. Go online to check out additional tech tools such as Dropbox and Join Me. Attend a local conference to connect with those in your industry and learn more.
Keep it simple sweetie (your time, your space, your thoughts)
When things get complicated, they get out of whack. It’s easy to over complicate and over think our home, work and life. Keep it simple sweetie by doing what’s easy, what’s simple and what’s needed. Keep in mind that the simplest answer is often the best. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to step back and assess simplicity.
Remember, our work and life balance starts with the choices we make. Keeping it all in balance is a work in progress and that at times our balance needs to shift between work and life. Keeping it in balance requires us to spin many plates at the same time.
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