Most of us wish we had a healthier balance between our professional and personal lives. Too often, we become fixated on our careers, trying to work our way up the corporate ladder, complete some massive project, or just handle everything that comes our way as entrepreneurs, and we lose focus on the luxuries of life that are important to us--our family, our friends, and our hobbies.
The problem is that most of us are plainly aware that our work-life balance is currently unhealthy. We recognize that we spend too much time working and not enough time on ourselves, but there's no simple switch that can lead to a better balance, and at times, it seems impossible for any other scenario to exist.
There are, however, several daily habits you can practice that lead you slowly to a healthier work-life balance. Try implementing these strategies, and see how much better you can live.
1. Take Some Time for Yourself in the Morning
Wake up early. Usually that's a practice reserved for exceptionally challenging days, but make it a daily habit. Take that extra morning hour, or even half hour, and do something for yourself before you plunge into your routine. For some people, that might be exercising. For others, it might be meditating or reading. Whatever you choose to do, do it for yourself--not for your boss, and not for your career. This will help you start the day off correctly. You'll feel better about the rest of your day, and you won't have to worry about squeezing in time for this activity later.
2. Delegate Effectively
Delegation is an important strategy in managing your workload. It's common for professionals to hold onto their tasks, feeling a sense of responsibility or pride in carrying them out personally, but in a team environment, sometimes delegating those tasks is a better long-term strategy for the group than holding onto them. Learn to be comfortable with your employees and your teammates. Hire and recruit people you can trust, and establish a give-and-take process that makes it easy to assign new tasks to others. Then, on a daily basis, find at least one task that can be delegated, and assign it to a party who can execute that task effectively.
3. Communicate When Your Workload Is Excessive
Oftentimes, your work-life balance can fall to pieces simply because your workload increased dramatically and suddenly. Maybe you brought on a new client or maybe you just started work on a massive new undertaking--whatever the case is, you've exceeded your normal work responsibilities and you've set yourself up for an 80-hour workweek. If you find this happening to you, take a moment to communicate the volume of your workload to your teammates or to your bosses. Explain that it's not too much for you to handle, but finding ways to reduce the impact would be beneficial to you and to the company--softening the deadline, bringing on other teammates, and outsourcing some of the work are all potentially effective strategies.
4. Take Lunch
How often do you eat lunch at your desk, or simply skip your lunch break altogether? Every day, make it a point to go outside for something to eat, whether that's stopping in at a sandwich shop or eating your packed lunch in a park outside. Stepping outside the office can help your mind decompress from the responsibilities of the professional world, and can help you work more effectively in addition to relieving some of your work-based stress.
5. Talk to Your Family During the Day
Find a way to communicate with your family members throughout the day. It doesn't have to manifest in the form of an extended conversation; even something as simple as a short text message can help you remember what's important in your life. First, it's a way of showing your family members that you care about them more than your job. Second, it's a way of contextualizing your work life, grounding it with your personal life, so that you don't become blind to everything outside your work responsibilities.
6. Hold Firm With Your Boundaries
When you first start this habit, you'll need to establish boundaries for your job. That might mean never working on the weekends, turning your phone off at 7, or outright refusing to talk about work once you're out of the office for the day. Whatever boundaries you set, it's your job to, on a daily basis, stick to those boundaries. Explain your limits to a friend or family member and have them help you stick to those commitments. Establishing a firm boundary for your job will prevent it from encroaching on your personal life.
7. Do Something Fun When You Get Home
Every day, make time to do something enjoyable when you get home. Rather than doing prep work for tomorrow or focusing on your household chores, kick back by watching a movie or going out to dinner with your family. The key is to do something completely unrelated to work that gives you something to look forward to every day.
You don't have to sacrifice your career or your goals to have a better work-life balance. Instead, all it takes is a bit of reprioritization, and a commitment to the little things that make life more worth living. Any time you feel swallowed up by your workload or distant from your family and friends, use one of these strategies to remind yourself that work isn't everything.