Our lives have changed over the pandemic with many of us still working remotely or blending office and remote work. This change has blurred the lines even more between personal, leisure time and working hours and makes many clients ask me about striking the right work and life balance. I’ve put together a few useful, practical tips to get you to redesign your work-life balance.
I cannot highlight enough that the right balance between life and work is a deeply personal decision. Your life and work balance can ebb and flow based on your priorities, commitments and needs. It’s important to note that there isn’t a perfect work/life balance and that work-life balance is unique to you and isn’t static but changes in different stages of your life.
A reasonable and realistic balance is usually less about dividing the hours in your day evenly between work and personal life and, instead, is more about having the flexibility to get things done in your professional life while still having time and energy to enjoy your personal life. There may be some days where you work longer hours so you have time later in the week to enjoy other activities. There may be weeks where you work reduced hours so that you can focus on personal aspects i.e. childcare, self-care or providing support for elderly relatives.
Work and life balance becomes challenging when lines get blurry, so aim to ensure that a clear line is drawn between work and leisure. If you do need to bring work home, a trick that works very well is to try to ensure that you only work in a certain area of your home – and can close the door (even an imaginary one) on it.
You can reinforce a clear work-life boundary by recognising the importance of protective factors, including exercise, leisure activities, and friendships. Safeguard and prioritise these times – they help you refuel and refresh while avoid burnout in the longer term.
Here are my five top tips when it comes to finding a work-life balance that works best for you:
Have a recurring meeting with yourself to look at your calendar and establish short term priorities. By highlighting in your calendar – or just in your mind – what are the most important events of your week, you will align your priorities and establish expectations. Perhaps it’s a big work presentation, a family event, a personal development course, or a complex project deadline. Once you have it clear in your mind where your energy will be mostly spent, you can arrange other aspects of your life around your bigger vision.
Further, aim to focus on a few, achievable goals every day. Achievable means a) you are capable of completing them and b) you will know you’ve accomplished them. Break down your vision into a smaller chunk that you can finish every day. Perhaps 3 – 5 key priorities. Bear in mind that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down – it forces you to get clear and shifts your brain into gear in terms of the actual tasks necessary for success.
How do you say no to distractions, notifications, invitations and other activities that don’t match your priorities now and in the future? Establishing boundaries around your time and space helps expectations to be managed, by you and others. For example, you might advertise your opening hours or availability (and stick to it), have auto-responders on emails to manage expectations around when a sender can expect a reply, and have definite ‘no-go’ areas where you won’t work i.e. the sofa or bed.
Are you fulfilled or just busy? Here are a few simple tips to help reduce the overwhelm, so that your brain doesn’t feel so busy even if you are constantly on the go!
Aim to simplify the flow in your days by decreasing clutter and increasing your organisation. Identify repetitive tasks and put mechanisms in place to make them more efficient. Perhaps using a meal planner or habit tracker (download free printables here) will reduce mental load. Decluttering your workspace, home and diary lets you release the excess busy-ness and concentrate on the non-negotiables: the things you love, where you want to focus your time, space and energy, the things that matter most. Investing a little time now to streamline and simplify can save you time in the long run!
Organised people tend to create effective schedules and prioritise tasks and activities by importance and deadlines. This can include personal priorities as well as work ones. Proactively factor family time, personal time, screen-free time, exercise or catch ups with friends into your diary. Acknowledge the need for times to unwind and rejuvenate and take these as seriously as any other appointments. Here is an article about the seven types of rest we all need in our lives to help you rethink your calendar and establish priorities. This is especially the case when avoiding screen time or social media – pay attention to how you feel after having a break from it and draw your own conclusions.
I’m a firm believer that if you want to manage your time, you have to be able to see it! Here are some of my tips for a Better Organised diary
What would your ideal week look like? I suggest ditching the to-do list and taking a diary-led approach where you visually map out your week and can see your commitments, capacity and balance. This can combine a bit of structure with some flexibility.
Plan for the unplannable! Don’t block out every minute.
Things will crop up and activities will often take longer than you think, so overestimate how much time you should allocate and add buffer time between meetings and tasks. Embrace white space in your calendar, allow times to simply switch off, when you can be spontaneous and let fancy guide you.
Finally, note that the balance between life and work is a goal to be achieved over time, not each day. Some days, you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. The key in finding balance is to remain flexible in prioritising and assessing your needs on any day with a longer term perspective.
I deliver bite-size sessions and productivity masterclasses for business. Topics include, but aren’t limited to:
From Chaos to Clarity – 4 Steps to Better Organised Emails. Are requests and opportunities slipping through the cracks as a result of cluttered inboxes? Tried and tested steps to help you rethink your inbox, minimise time spent on email and establish an approach of decisiveness and discipline.
Get Out of The Procrastination Trap! In just 25 minutes, discover some proven tactics for beating procrastination, gathering momentum and getting stuff done!
Healthy Habits When You’re Working From Home. From deep work to distraction-blocking, this coffee break class includes key insights and actionable advice on how to work effectively from home.
Simple Steps to a Better Work/Life Balance. Learn to switch off, avoid busyness and burnt out. A short session to introduce you to routines and rituals that can help you achieve a more harmonious work/life balance.
Get in touch today to organise sessions that fit your team and business needs!
I hope all these tips have helped inspire you to find a better work-life balance. But if you need further support, a professional declutterer and organiser like myself can work with you to streamline your calendar, office or home in a way that will put you back in control of your time. Simply book a quick confidential chat so we can explore how I can offer you the gift of time.
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