By Mihir Shah
This is truly the age of 24/7 connectivity, where we are on call for work even when we’re out of the office. The direct effect of this has been that people place a high premium on their free time. It has become obvious that achieving a satisfying work-life balance has become as hard as it is crucial to all of us.
What most of us misunderstand about work-life balance is that we think our entire lives should be balanced. Some of us assume that it means that we should work a little, play a little, and have sufficient time left over for us to relax on the weekends. We are sure that this will improve the quality of life overall. But consider this: what do you mean by an improved quality of life? Does it mean more success in your career? Do you want to spend more time with your family and loved ones?
Before you make a commitment to plan for more balance in your work and life, be clear on what you want to achieve. You have to decide what you want to achieve in your personal life and in your professional life. Old habits (like procrastination) do die hard, but with planning and practice, achieving your preferred work-life balance is not impossible.
Today, we share a few tips on how you can adopt planning and management skills as an essential part of your daily routine to help you achieve work-life balance.
1. Create Your Personal Plan
Make periodic goals that are not impossible. You might want to plan for the next year, month, or even a week. Start by visualizing what you want to accomplish in this specific period for both your personal and professional lives. This helps in deciding which areas you want to prioritize and how much time you can spare for it.
You may be happy with your career or how you spend your free time, but maybe there are things you are missing out on such as exercise, socializing, or even mental health. So you can prioritize these things and relax a little on what’s already in place. You will have to consciously decide on the things that need your focus in the short, medium, and long term.
2. Set Up Personal Accountability
You have to make yourself accountable to yourself. Or, if you are comfortable, have someone else — a close friend or spouse — to answer to when you start ignoring your plan of achieving work-life balance. Let them know that you are consciously making an effort to make more time for your personal life. They should have your permission to remind you when you fall back into old habits, but be encouraging when you have to be brought back to your track of progress.
3. Identify Your Priorities
With your personal plan in place, you can determine what should be your priority. You should write down what you want to focus your energy on and how you can achieve it in terms of resources and efficiency. We have to balance between important issues such as health, fitness, friendships, and family.
It is natural that we think we are too busy at work to meet up with friends or be physically active every day. However, you can’t ignore everything else for work. Always focus on ‘must complete’ items on your list first, so even if the rest of the items take time, the plan is still in place.
Please remember that you don’t have to accomplish everything today. Whatever can wait for tomorrow should be on tomorrow’s list so you can balance all your priorities.
4. Recognize Your Strengths
One of the most common issues with work-life balance is that we try to be all things to all people. Recognize what works for you, figure out what you are great at doing. For example, when you are building a business, most of us will assume that we can do the accounting ourselves. After all, how hard can it be? But, when you honestly assess your accounting skills, you will realize that the right way forward is to hire an accountant.
Doing something you are not comfortable with will take longer, and might cost more in terms of time and effort. If you are not a morning person, you don’t have to push yourself to wake up early. Instead, plan so that you can spend longer in the evening planning for tomorrow. This way, you can work at your optimum time and more effectively.
5. Realize that Perfection Is Not the Goal
Overachievers have a tendency to be a perfectionist in everything they do, which is a remnant from their successful schooling days. But the life of an adult is more complex, and expecting perfection at every turn does more harm than good. Especially in the corporate workplace, perfectionist tendencies can become destructive, driving resources away from critical points.
A better option is to focus on excellence in everything you do, and not perfection.
6. Track Your Life
For a month, just track how you spend your daily life. This will show where you are wasting your time and resources. Identify the things that are not contributing to your growth or progress towards your goals. If they aren’t aligning with your priorities, you have to eliminate these things.
Monitoring is an important aspect of development. Analyze your work life, personal life, social life, and together you can understand how to better each sphere of life.
7. Understand that Boundaries Are Good
Without boundaries, there is always going to be an imbalance among the important things in life. Whether it is spending time on social media, or on physical fitness, focusing too much on one thing will have a negative impact on everything else.
It is obvious that by setting time limits, we can become more productive at work. These are not limitations, these are guidelines that will help you be more efficient at life.
8. Take a Break
When drawing up your daily schedule, always allocate some time off during the day. If you are able to complete your tasks and have some time left over, you can take a break and refresh yourself. It does not have to be a substantial time, but a timely break can improve your productivity and enthusiasm for the other tasks at hand. Moreover, when you are working without breaks, you are liable to lose interest in following your schedule.
Make it a point to get up from your workplace and stretch yourself every 15 minutes or half hour. This will help you become clearer, be more focused in your tasks.
9. Focus on What You Are Doing
Multi-tasking has become a buzzword for those in the corporate world. But it has been scientifically proven that our brains handle only one thing at a time. It is just not possible to focus on two or more things at once.
Instead, try and concentrate on one thing at a time. You should not be thinking about work when you are spending time on socializing. Nor should you be worrying about relationships when you are working, since you have earmarked sufficient time in your plan to attend to relationships.
10. Start with the Toughest Task First
When you have a tough task on your to-do list, you will be tempted to keep pushing it off. The fact that it is there will be at the back of your mind as you work on other things, but you do not want to start doing that task.
The best way to approach this is to complete your least favorite task first. Once it is over, the rest of the day you can enjoy the other tasks. This is how you can embrace procrastination.
11. Accept that ‘No’ Is an Acceptable Answer
Even though you have plans to complete some tasks, you might still take on more tasks only because you think you cannot say no. We do want to help people and do our work, but saying yes to everything means that you cannot do your existing jobs properly. No is a valid answer in some situations, and usually when you have other priorities, friends, and colleagues to understand. You should not feel guilty about scheduling your time effectively.
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