Juggling work and life doesn’t have to be a balancing act where you have to choose one over the other in order to accomplish your goals. If you find yourself struggling to maintain a healthy work/life balance, here are some helpful hints to achieve it.
Show Up Early
“Woah! I thought this article was about work/life balance… and now you’re telling me I have to be at work more!? What gives?”
Okay, I’m not suggesting you show up an hour early every day, what I am saying is show up 15 to 20 minutes early some/most days. If you:
• have a job where distractions are a constant issue
• you work with others all day long
• you are constantly in and out of meetings
• you are in charge of a team of people
Then showing up early can help you plan your day before any of that chaos starts. It can help you set an intention for the day, take a moment to grab yourself a coffee, review your calendar, prioritize your inbox, or if you’re into it… meditate. The purpose of showing up early is to do it when no one else is around, so you can get yourself into a flow state before the real work begins.
Learn to Say “No” or “Help”
The reason you have a job is that you said “yes” to many things. Yes to the interview, yes to the job offer, yes to the job description, yes to the promotion, yes to the overtime. The “yes” list goes on. But when do we ever feel it’s okay to say “no” or “sure, but I’ll need some help”. I personally love it when someone says to me “Can I ask you for a favour, and no is a perfectly good answer”. But I get that not everyone’s that lucky in life, and those moments are rare. When the workload becomes too much, it’s important to communicate that with your boss or team. The best way to do this is asking for help in re-prioritizing your tasks. You can still be a “yes” person, but you may need to say “no” to something on your list. And if you’re unsure of what can be put on the backburner, then who better to ask then the person giving you the new task, right? Still having troubles? Here’s a handy-dandy how-to guide on How to Say No To Your Boss.
We’ve all had those days where you’re so busy that the world will implode if you step away from your computer for two seconds (it won’t). You need to recognize that taking breaks actually improves productivity! Giving yourself some downtime can help reduce burnout and increase your energy. If this particular tip comes hard to you then try the “turkey method”. Okay- hear me out. Every 30 to 40 minutes you have to baste a turkey, otherwise, it will dry out, and no one wants a dry turkey. You can apply a similar rule to your brain, body, and eyes. Try this: Set a timer on your phone and once per hour stand up and get moving (just for 1-2 minutes), not enough to break up your workflow or find distractions. Take a quick walk around the office, have a stretch, grab a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom (because #allthecoffee), get outside for some fresh air, then head back to your desk and reset your timer.
Now that I got you all hungry with saying “turkey breaks”, take your lunch break.
Which leads me to… eat healthily! Choose a lunch that is both filling and healthy. Fast foods cause us to sugar crash shortly after eating them and often make us cranky in the long term. Eating foods that feed your brain will help you get through the rest of the afternoon.
Lee Bougie, the resident nutritionist at Nested Naturals says, “The best lunches will have some fat and protein, not just a lot of carbs. That will help keep your blood sugar more stable, and sustain you longer. I love having lentils, roasted vegetables, and some sliced avocado, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add some more flavor and nutrients with herbs like oregano and thyme.” Also, don’t eat at your desk. If you have the option, get out of the office or find a quiet corner in the breakroom to sit and enjoy your lunch without the distractions of your work.
Leave on Time
The best way to hold yourself accountable to this is to have a few post-workday commitments. If you need to pick your kids up at daycare or cook dinner for the family, this is a lot easier to do, but for those who don’t have responsibilities outside of their job, it’s so hard not to lose track of time and end up working overtime. Consider alternatives such as a yoga class, a walking group, or a book club. Not only does this force you to leave work on time each day, but it actually promotes an active or social lifestyle outside of work. Two birds, one stone! You’ll look forward to your Tuesday afternoon interpretive dance class or Thursday evening guitar lesson. There’s probably something for free you could get up to 5 days a week if you look into your city’s local events, so add some variety to your routine!
When You’re Not at Work, Don’t Do Work
For many of us, this is almost impossible. Jobs nowadays have you plugged in 24 hours. This doesn’t mean 24/7/365 and certainly shouldn’t mean that it’s expected of you. Your time away from the office, including your days off and vacations, are valuable. I recently discovered a new use for airplane mode on my phone other than when I’m on an airplane. Turn your phone onto airplane mode for 1 hour each day. You can still browse the internet or check your facebook, but you won’t be disturbed by calls or texts. Take it a step further and walk away from your phone! That’s right, put it in another room with the ringer off! GASP! These things obviously take some discipline and practice, but I challenge you to see if you can do this at least once a week.
Get Your Zzzs
We all know we need it, and most of us need more of it. Lack of sleep is associated with increased stress levels and decreased ability to make decisions. By not getting enough sleep you’re more likely to make poor decisions at work (or slow down your workday) causing you to work longer- not harder. CEO of The Energy Project, Tony Schwartz, says “sleep is more important than food”. He writes, “We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.” So in other words, don’t work harder, sleep longer.
The work/life balancing act can be a struggle, and that struggle is real for many of us, but by making some time for planning, socializing, meal prep, and sleep, hopefully, we can take back some namaste in our day and achieve more happiness and productiveness inside and outside of work.