We all know that accomplishing and maintaining a good work-life balance is an essential part of living a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle. Yet, it’s more difficult than ever. If we know how important it is to our overall health and well-being, why is it so hard to achieve?
Many things contribute to what can start to feel like the all-day work day. In a job market where restructuring and layoffs have been commonplace and where the competitive marketplace constantly requires better results, it can feel necessary to put in extra hours to get the job done right while doing it with initiative and dedication.
Not only that, 24/7 access to email and phone messages makes you reachable and connected at any given moment. On top of it all, change has become constant and it can be challenging to master workplace expectations while taking care of you and your personal needs.
Luckily, a positive work-life balance is within reach even for those who seem to be married to their jobs. You can find endless ideas online on how to find that elusive work-life balance, which can be overwhelming. Let’s take a look at three realistic tips for achieving and sustaining your own work-life balance. If you can find a way to do these three things, you will be well on your way to an improved lifestyle.
1. Budget Your Time
It often feels like we don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish everything we need to. But if you take a close look at how you’re spending your day and focus on the key priorities, you will likely find that you have more time than you realize.
Most people budget their money to make sure that spending doesn’t get away from them by the end of the month. Think of your time in the same way. A well-managed schedule allows you to see where your time is going and ensures that you aren’t wasting your precious time on things of little worth.
Most people participate in activities throughout their day that add little to no value. We like to call them the “dumb things we do.” Start paying closer attention to where your time is going so you can identify the things that are a priority and the things you can drop or delay.
As unnecessary tasks and activities that clutter your day begin to drop off of your to-do list or your regular routine, you can use this time to include things that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Just doing this is a first step in getting the most out of your day.
2. Make an Appointment with Yourself
As you review your schedule or create your to-do list, be sure that you are setting aside time to refuel and unwind.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long period of time, but you should create opportunities to put your regular work aside and do something for yourself.
For some that might be exercising or a hobby. For others it might be spending time with family or engaging in meditation.
We encourage the leaders that we coach to make an actual appointment with themselves during the week to break away from the pressure. Having this formal time set aside is a great source of motivation to better manage your time leading up to the scheduled activity.
It takes discipline and determination to step away from the heat of the action, but when you find some calm in your life you will be more productive in the other parts of your life.
3. Look After Your Health
When you’re crunched for time, often the first thing to go out the window is your sleep, eating habits, and exercise routine. In 2013, the CDC reported that only about 20% of adults in the United States were meeting its recommendation for weekly physical activity.
It is easy to give into the temptation to squeeze more time out of your week by sleeping less and neglecting physical activity. But in actuality, eliminating these critical elements can be seriously detrimental to your schedule and work results.
Our physical well-being affects our mental well-being too. Physical activity and a healthy amount of sleep will help you manage stress more effectively, be more attentive throughout your day, solve problems better, and tap into your creativity. Neglect these important aspects of your life and you’ll find yourself feeling sluggish, anxious, and mentally foggy.
The good news is the CDC’s guidelines are actually quite modest in the grand scheme of a week’s time. A 30-minute walk or a 20-minute run once a day fulfills their recommendation. Not only is that time and activity good for your body, it is good for your mind as you step away from other pressures and find some satisfaction in other parts of your life.
In our work with executives, leaders, and team members we see how challenging it can be to achieve this balance. We have seen leaders on the verge of mental breakdowns because of the stress and pressure they feel, which is unfortunate for them and their organization.
But we’ve also seen leaders who have been able to discipline themselves and discover a work-life balance. Think about your own situation and look for ways you too can find that balance. Remember, these three simple steps are a great place to start in your quest to live the life of your dreams.