Are long hours in the office and away from friends and family the norm?
According to a survey from Harvard Business School, 94% of professionals say they spend more than 50 hours per week on work related projects. Of that 94%, almost half of them admitted to working 65 hours or more during the week.
When you consider that we spend somewhere around 5o hours of the week sleeping, this doesn’t leave a lot of time for other activities.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying your work’s not important. I am saying you need to create some balance in your life to get the most out of your efforts at work and in life.
Work-life balance is not something I’ve spent a lot of time talking about, but it is an important concept. This balance not only helps you organize your efforts and increase your chances of success, but it is also important for mental health.
If you want to achieve work-life balance, there are a few tips and techniques you can use to improve your chances of success.
What Does Work-Life Balance Mean?
The definition of work-life balance is hard to track down. This is because it is fluid, meaning something different to each person and changing for each person over time.
There are some basic concepts you can apply to the term work-life balance though. The simple explanation is a balance between what you want to accomplish and what brings you joy. The tricky part is it’s not a one-to-one comparison.
The balance between accomplishment and joy is important to all aspects of your life. This balance can only be defined by you, and the things that are most important to you are going to get the most attention in these areas.
It is up to each person to determine which areas are most important to them.
- Some people manage to get the most satisfaction out of their work.
- Some people look to family for their balance.
- Other people look to social engagements for that feeling of balance.
This is not to say those are the only things important to these people, just that this is where they will focus their attention for fulfillment. Once again, this is up to the person.
No one should care what others tell them should be important to them. We should each find our own balance.
Just remember, you need to find the areas of your life that are most likely to bring you that balance of accomplishment and joy. It is in these areas that you should focus your time and attention to bring balance to your life.
I go back to this a lot (because it’s important), but this is a great place to use the Journaling for Entrepreneurs process. Taking the time to write down what is important to you will help you with making the time for those things.
Schedule the Things That are Important to You
Once you determine where your priorities are, you need to ensure you make the time for those priorities. This is where a schedule is your best tool. Take the time to schedule your time, creating specific times to include the things that are important to you.
If you know something is important to you, make a point of putting it on your schedule. Don’t just assume you will find time for it. If you don’t write it down, chances are you will not find that time.
This scheduling process is important for all aspects of your life:
- Time for yourself
- Domestic cares
Make time for each of these areas, adding specific times (or time chunks) for each of these areas. They are all important at different levels for each person. To create the best work-life balance, you have to determine how important each one is and schedule your time for each one accordingly.
Remember that, you must make the time. Using a schedule to write it down will help your brain register those things as important and allow you to make more time for each one as you need to.
Prioritize Your Efforts
Once you determine what is important to you, you have to determine which tasks in each area are high priorities. This is connected to scheduling your time but goes a little deeper.
For each of the areas of your life, there are some things that are more important than others. The trick is learning how to tell the difference.
Ask yourself each day:
“What absolutely has to get done today?”
Make those things the first priorities for your schedule that day. Go through each thing on your to-do list, determining which ones need your attention and focus on those things. Let the less important things wait.
When prioritizing your schedule, you also want to make sure you get the task completed before moving on. Part of completing these projects is letting go of the need for perfection.
Note: perfection is impossible.
Quit trying to achieve that elusive idea of perfection. Put forth your best efforts and accept that is your best effort.
Prioritizing also includes being in the moment with whatever you’re doing.
- Are you trying to finish a work project? Don’t stop to check social media.
Taking a break like that will break up your concentration, making it harder to get back on track.
- Are you having dinner with your family, or going out with friends? Don’t take time to check work emails.
Whatever you have scheduled for that time is what you need to focus on. This is the best way to ensure you get the most out of these activities.
Take Time for Yourself
You also need to take time for yourself. If you are constantly giving your attention to everything and everyone else, you will burn out.
Step away at some point through the day to spend time for yourself. Get away from technology, from obligations, from the minutia of the everyday and refresh yourself.
A good way to do this is to get active.
Take a walk, ride a bike, do something that gets you moving and takes you away from everything else. This will help you refresh your body and your mind, allowing you to bring renewed energy to those priorities of the day.
Another way to take time for yourself is to use the Journaling for Entrepreneurs process. Take the time to write each day, clarifying your goals and reminding yourself what’s most important.
Give yourself time to reflect and refresh so you can be at your best.
Your Priorities are About You
Most importantly, remember that your priorities are your priorities.
Don’t let someone else try to dictate what should be important to you. If you are basing your priorities on what others believe they should be, you will not be able to achieve work-life balance.
This means you need to be honest with yourself about what’s important to you, and you need to accept your priorities as your own.
Different people in your life will try to encourage you to make different aspects a priority, but this is based on their priorities in life, not yours.
Is work important to you? Own that. Accept it and schedule your time accordingly.
Is your family your highest priority? Don’t let someone else tell you this makes you less fulfilled.
Own your priorities, own who you are and schedule your time accordingly, so you can reach your best balance.
Would you like more information about using the Journaling for Entrepreneurs process to help you work through your priorities? You might want to join my Journaling for Entrepreneurs Facebook page for more tips and to share your journey.
You can also sign up for my newsletter to stay informed of new ideas and tips from Penny Layne Writes. If you sign up, you will also receive a free writing prompt with fun journaling ideas to help you get started with the Journaling for Entrepreneurs process.