Do you feel like you never have time for yourself? Use these tips to balance work with life so you can be happier overall.
I’m familiar with the feeling of not having enough time. But the truth is, you and I have plenty of time for the areas of our lives that are important to us. The key is to prioritize those things.
When I was in college, I was a workaholic. To an extent, I still am, although I set boundaries with my work these days.
As a student, I took on too many responsibilities that didn’t align with my goals. I was struggling with my mental health, and I tried to keep myself busy as a distraction. It worked, but I was exhausted and stressed out as a result of overworking myself.
After I graduated and started taking my wellness more seriously, I learned that balance is the key to having a healthy lifestyle.
If the phrase “work-life balance” sounds like a foreign language to you, keep reading because I’m about to explain what it is, why you need it, and how you can have a more balanced lifestyle yourself.
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What’s work-life balance?
You achieve work-life balance by making sure you have enough time for both your professional responsibilities and personal life.
It’s a simple concept, but many people struggle to maintain a work-life balance, believe it or not. It’s very common. So, if you’re having a hard time balancing work with life, know that you’re not alone!
Do you know why your lifestyle is unbalanced? It could be for a number of reasons, but here are three common ones:
1. You aren’t structuring your time well enough.
Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t find time. You create time!”
Well, obviously there are only 24 hours in a day. That won’t change. But you can structure that time to prioritize the things that are important to you.
Try to establish a consistent routine so you have the hours in your day assigned to specific activities.
For example, working out is the first thing I do after I wake up every morning. Because it’s a part of my routine, I ensure that I always have time for it.
2. You haven’t set clear boundaries with your job.
If you work from 9 to 5, but your boss is calling you at 6:30 AM or 9 PM, that’s a problem!
You’re entitled to your free time. If your employer is infringing upon it, you have every right to put your foot down and set boundaries with your job. Your boss might not like it, but your wellbeing is worth more than any job.
Remember, your boss isn’t paying you to work 24/7. Unless it’s stated in your contract that your employer is allowed to call you at any time of the day, after hours calls are not appropriate (in my honest opinion.)
Your personal time matters, so prioritize it!
3. You aren’t being disciplined enough.
Schedules only work if you stick to them! If you plan your week out and don’t follow the schedule you set, you won’t be able to make the most of your time.
Be disciplined. Follow the schedule. Of course, things will come up, and you will need to shift things around, but an organized schedule is your best shot at getting something done.
So, you need to honor it and follow it to the best of your ability!
Is work-life balance important?
Yes! Without it, you’ll be stressed out all the time (just like I was.) And eventually, the stress will become too much to bear. You’ll get burned out, and your productivity will plummet!
But wait, wouldn’t you get more work done if you spent your time actually working instead of watching TV or hanging out with a friend? You’d think so, but it doesn’t work that way.
You see, humans aren’t machines. They’re not made to hustle 24/7 with no breaks. They need sleep, they need food, and they also need time to relax!
If you want to have a good life, you can’t work all the time. You have to achieve a work-life balance that values both productivity and leisure.
Balance is the key to success and long-term happiness!
Achieving work-life balance in a hustle culture
Many people in our society today, especially millennials, are obsessed with hustle culture. Instead of balancing work with life, they exert themselves at maximum capacity in the workplace, which eventually leads to burnout.
If your lifestyle sounds like what I just described, it’s likely you’ve fallen victim to hustle culture’s notion that your worth is defined by your professional achievements. And that notion is entirely a misconception!
Your wellbeing is more important than work. Read that again.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard to achieve your goals. You absolutely should! But the thing is that you won’t be able to perform well physically and mentally if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Are you ready to separate work from play? Let’s discuss some work-life balance tips and techniques that will help you improve your lifestyle overall:
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Strategies for work-life balance
1. Start each morning with purpose.
If you hit “snooze” five times before you actually get up, it’s time to change the way you view mornings.
Maybe I’m biased because I love getting up early, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m a morning person. I start my day with a positive morning mindset that gets me out of bed as soon as I hear my alarm.
Actually, I haven’t always been a morning person. I used to sleep in until 10 AM, 11 AM, or even noon on some days. However, when I changed my mindset and implemented a more intentional morning routine, I found it way easier to get out of bed.
The key is to create a morning routine that’s good for your soul. For example, my current routine looks like this:
- 4 AM: Wake up, relax, and put on my exercise clothes.
- 5 AM: Exercise, usually with both cardio and weights.
- 6:30 AM: Write in my gratitude journal.
- 7:00 AM: Take a shower and get dressed for the day.
- 7:30 AM: Cook myself breakfast.
- 8:00 AM: Check emails and start my work day.
- 8:30 AM: My first meeting of the day.
As you can see, I make time for myself in the morning. Because my routine has planned activities that I look forward to, I feel happy when I wake up.
I really like exercising. If you don’t, you should plan a different activity for the morning. Something you won’t dread. Ideally, it will be an activity that excites you.
When you start enjoying your mornings, your life will change!
2. Organize every aspect of your life.
Grab your planner or log in to your favorite project management tool. It’s time to get seriously organized!
Disorganization and clutter are two major time wasters. Eliminate clutter wherever possible, and make sure you have an organized system for every area of your life.
To get you started, here are some things you should organize ASAP:
- Your schedule.
- The files on your computer.
- The apps on your phone.
- Every room of your house.
- Your goals.
Consistent routines and effective systems will help you make the most of your week. Yes, getting organized takes time, but the hours you’ll save are worth the effort in the long run.
Become an organized person and you’ll set yourself up for success!
3. Time block your whole day.
Based on my experience, I think time blocking is the #1 way to take control of your day, set boundaries with work, and make time for yourself.
To time block, you simply assign a task or activity to each hour in your day. You can block your time in 30-minute or 60-minute increments, depending on the type of work you’re doing.
At first, time blocking might sound strict and not-so-fun, but it will actually help you make more time for leisure and self-care.
You should block every single thing you plan to do, including meals, breaks, self-care time, TV-watching time, or whatever you want to do with your day.
Don’t let your professional obligations bleed into your leisure time blocks. That defeats the purpose of structuring your day.
With time blocking, you can make time for the things that matter to you and create balance in your life. If you desperately need more downtime, I highly suggest the time blocking strategy!
4. Prioritize your to-do list.
Prioritizing will ensure that you complete the most important tasks first, which will save you stress at the end of the day. You don’t want to leave anything crucial until the last minute.
I organize the items in my to-do list into three categories:
- Needs to get done ASAP: I’m screwed if I don’t do this today.
- Important, but not urgent: If I can’t get this done today, it’s not the end of the world.
- This can wait: It’s cool if I do this tomorrow, or maybe even next week.
When you prioritize your tasks, you keep your life on track.
5. Know when to say “no.”
Establishing boundaries will help you maintain balance in your life. Saying “no” is the way to enforce those boundaries.
For example, let’s say your typical work schedule is Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. Your boss emails you on a Saturday and asks you to do something. How would you handle that situation?
Unless your boss has specifically stated that he or she wants you to be available on weekends, you should not feel obligated to complete the request. You have every right to say “no.”
If you say “yes” and complete the request, that might give your boss the idea that you don’t have any boundaries with your work. Your boss might continue to bother you with work on the weekends. If that’s something you don’t want, you need to communicate your boundaries clearly.
It’s completely okay to say “no,” especially if it’s a task that falls outside of your normal responsibilities. And you’ll have to say “no” at times. If you don’t, you’ll never have complete control of your time.
6. Focus on one task at a time.
Multitasking and balanced lifestyles don’t go together.
It might seem more efficient to do three different things at once, but it’s not. Multitasking will hurt your productivity.
When your brain is focused on one task at a time, you’ll be able to complete that task more quickly (and you’ll likely do a better job, too!)
Be mindful at work, but be mindful in your free time as well. When you hang out with your family, stay off your phone. Value that quality time.
7. Practice self-care regularly.
Self-care simply means taking care of yourself and prioritizing your wellbeing.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to plan some “me time” into your day. You can’t neglect your health and wellness. You should practice self-care for your mind, body, and soul.
I love self-care! In fact, it’s one of the topics I regularly cover on this blog. If you’re interested in learning more about how to implement self-care into your lifestyle, check out the following articles.
Here’s some self-care inspo for your routine:
- 60 Easy Self-Care Ideas for Everyday Life
- 30 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Under 30 Minutes
- How to Build Your Own Self-Care Routine
- How to Plan the Perfect Self-Care Day
- 31 Self-Care Kit Ideas for Physical and Mental Wellness
- 25 Relaxing Self-Care Sunday Ideas