If you’re looking for some insight into how to create a better work-life balance, check out these tips for some practical ideas.
It’s hard to find time just for you, isn’t it?
Maybe you check your work e-mail compulsively from your phone or spend your free time shuttling kids to their activities. Maybe you have postponed vacations because you’re too busy, or you sacrifice sleep because you have papers to write.
With Labor Day just around the corner – a day created to honor the American worker – it’s a good time to think about ways to create a better work-life balance.
To help get you started, here are five tips for more productive, less harried days.
Tip #1: Take 30 minutes in the morning.
Mornings often feel like a race against the clock. But you don’t have to hit the ground running.
Holly Hamann, co-founder of TapInfluence, says she used to check her phone immediately when she woke up, which always took longer than she planned.
Postpone those checks and give yourself 30 minutes to recharge and think about your priorities, Hamann says. Journal, exercise, meditate or try something else to get yourself off to the right start each day.
Tip #2: Trade multitasking for power hours.
The more you get done during your work hours, the more time you have for family, hobbies and relaxation, right?
Although multitasking may seem like the key, research suggests it could make you less productive.
Forbes contributor Vanessa Loder likes chunking work into segments to focus on your most important task. Silence phone notifications, close unrelated windows on your computer screen and ignore e-mail. Work 20 minutes and take a break. Repeat two more times. And don’t try to push through the breaks, thinking you’ll get more done. Breaks refresh you, ultimately making you more productive.
Tip #3: Use technology to your advantage.
True, smartphones keep us accessible at all hours, skewing balance in work’s favor. Using technology effectively, however, can put time back on your side.
Tasks such as grocery shopping, making reservations and renting movies are completed faster and more efficiently online. Traffic apps can help you reduce your commuting time, a major source of stress. And numerous productivity apps will sync calendars and to-do lists to help you get your work done faster.
Tip #4: Vacation without travel.
We all want more vacations. But since time and money may often stand in the way, consider a “microadventure” instead. Camp one night after work. Ride your bike instead of taking your car. Hike under the stars. You’ll shake up your routine, spend more time outside and experience the exhilaration of trying something outside your comfort zone.
Tip #5: Ask the big questions.
What is work-life balance anyway? Your answer may differ from your friend or coworker.
Blogger Rebecca Thorman says to consider what balance means to you and set your priorities.
You’re bound to stress yourself out if you simultaneously try to pursue a promotion at work and train for a marathon and have regular date nights and cook healthy meals for your kids. Something has to give. Think about the bigger picture — maybe immersing yourself in a project or returning to school means sacrificing personal time for now but helps you reach long-term goals.
Remember, as Thorman says, “Balance happens over time, not all at once.”
Creating balance that lasts.
If you're planning on taking Labor Day off, enjoy it. But keep in mind that while a day off is a welcome luxury, it’s a temporary reprieve. Learning to manage the craziness of your everyday schedule is what will bring you closer to more lasting work-life balance.
Carving out even small pockets of time for yourself will help you recharge and enjoy your life, because those small changes add up – even when there are carpools to organize, tests to take and e-mails to return.
How do you balance all your different duties during the day?
Image Credit: Nathan Rupert on Flickr Creative Commons
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