If you wrote down a list of your priorities, what’s at the top? For some, it’s their job. For others, it’s their personal relationships. There’s a common misconception that you can’t “have it all” – a family, fulfilling job, and a fun social life. As a result, many people direct their focus on one area in particular and lose sight of the rest.
But the truth is you can have all of those things! It’s just a matter of creating a healthy balance. While it’s normal to get swept up in one area of our lives, this will leave us feeling emotionally drained and burnt out.
Then, we start to get that feeling that something is missing and shift our attention to the next area. Here’s the problem with this way of thinking: you don’t need to choose one over another. You just need to learn how to balance your life.
Here are four tips to help you get started:
- Establish boundaries
Are you a people pleaser? Do you always say “yes” to avoid disappointing others? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
Let’s say you have a boss who calls and emails you at all hours of the day. You’re clocked out, but you feel like you should answer…and 9 out of 10 times you do. While there’s nothing wrong with being a hard worker, this behavior sets a bad precedent for the future. Since you are always available, your boss continues to take advantage.
In this case, it’s important to speak up and say you’ll get to it the next day. Ultimately, failing to set boundaries will chip away at your self-worth.
2. Set goals
The first step in goal-setting is to figure out your intention. Why is achieving work-life balance important to you? Thinking about this will help you connect you to what motivates you on a deep level.
Next, you’ll need to get clear on what better work-life balance means for you. The answer is different for everyone. For example, better balance could mean more time for self-care (exercise, meditation, etc.) or it could also mean more time with your spouse, children or friends.
If you want to have more family time, start with the goal of family dinners at least two to three times each week. Or if you need more time for self-care, set a goal for morning meditation or morning runs for three days each week. As time passes, you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
3. Learn how to manage your time effectively
Do you feel like you’re always busy, but at the end of the day you didn’t check enough off your to-do list? Always find yourself saying, “I don’t have time”? Chances are you do have time, but you aren’t managing it in the right way. This ties back to your goals and focusing on what’s important.
It comes down to prioritizing your tasks in a way that ensures you have enough time to complete each one. This will enable you to work smarter, not harder. You’ll have more time and energy to do the things you enjoy and spend more time with the people you care about.
First, do a time audit during a normal day. Write down what you’re doing and how long it takes you. You’ll be surprised where your time goes! It’s a great reality check.
Third, spend your mornings on your most important tasks. Mark Twain once said, “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
As strange as this analogy sounds, it makes a lot of sense. In the morning, you have the most energy, so take advantage of it and use that time to complete your most challenging tasks.
Second, break your to-do list down into concrete steps. Once you know what your priorities are, create a more specific list of what you need to accomplish. “Most people’s to-do lists have BIG to-do’s that need to be broken into smaller pieces in order to be doable,” says Beverly D. Flaxington, professional behavioral analyst. “It’s easier to make – and see – progress with many small things rather than one large overwhelming one. Taking the time to do this will save you loads of work in the long run.”
4. Develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress
While stress is something we all experience, let’s be honest: managing it is another story. As a result, coming up with healthy strategies to cope with stress is one of the important life skills you can learn.
It has a positive ripple effect: a better mood, greater mental clarity, and stronger relationships.
When it comes to specific stress management tools, health experts recommend deep breathing, yoga, meditation and exercise.
By following these four tips, you can finally find the balance you’ve been searching for! And in the moments you feel self-doubt creeping in, remember the wise words of Albert Einstein, “life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you need to keep moving.” As with anything in life, the key to success is to keep moving forward.