We have all experienced the frustration of trying to balance work and life. Demanding bosses and urgent assignments now follow us home from the office through cell phones and emails. So in a business world that’s constantly plugged in how do we find time for ourselves and for our loved ones? First, we have to slow down and prioritize.
Know the Difference Between Urgent and Important
President Eisenhower developed a handy little chart for prioritizing tasks, and it divides them into two categories. Tasks that are “urgent” require your immediate attention and often have a strict time limit. Tasks that are “important” will benefit you in the long run, but aren’t accompanied by a ticking clock.
Eisenhower’s chart can be used for all facets of life, and help you prioritize your day or even your five year plan. But it requires recognizing that not everything on your to-do list is going to get done. Trying to make too many things a priority only leads to running around in circles, accomplishing nothing.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Dividing your attention between a dozen things means none of them will get done well, or done at all.
Limit your daily to-do list to two or three things that must be accomplished, and if you complete them consider the day a success!
We often make the mistake of thinking everything has to be done right now, but if we accomplish a little bit each day we’ll get much more done in the long run, and with less stress.
Stop Wasting Precious Time
Sitting at a computer for eight hours rarely means doing eight hours of work. Much of our work time is frittered away surfing the web and chatting with friends and co-workers. Using time more effectively means being done with work sooner! Try dividing your hours into work time and break time.
Set a timer for 50 minutes and during that time stay as focused on work as you possibly can. When the timer goes off, set it for 10 minutes and relax however you choose. Repeat and see if you’re getting more done.
Schedule Time for Fun
The last few tips can be used at work or at home. But time off is important to schedule too. Block off some time each night or each week to spend with family, or on a hobby. Very few people can spend equal time working and playing each week, but a little relaxation does wonders for your sanity. Make fun-scheduling a regular habit and you’ll have a guilt-free reward to look forward to.
Take Care of Yourself
You need to be your best self in order to accomplish more. So make time to care for yourself. Eat right and exercise. Spend time alone so you can replenish your energy. (Solitude helps your brain unwind and improves concentration and productivity.) If you are tired, take a break, and if you feel sick, take the day off. When you feel healthy and refreshed, you can accomplish more in less time.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you have to work 65 hours a week in order to meet your goals. If your have trouble creating space for yourself, consider finding a retreat or program that can help you find a better balance.
The secret to a better balance between work and life is efficiency. But that doesn’t mean squeezing more work into a day. It means getting a reasonable amount of work done in a reasonable amount of time. Feeling accomplished is often its own reward, and having time to relax afterward is icing on the cake.
We may never be “done” with everything at work, but knowing you don’t have to face the tidal wave of obligations all at once can be a huge relief. You can also supercharge your energy supply by scheduling in more sleep and exercise. Try setting a strict bedtime, and getting up an hour or two before you need to leave the house. It may be hard to get used to, but you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when you feel rested and fit!
Having trouble pushing the pause button on your work life? Feel like you need help finding the right balance? Find out how the Loving Life Work/Life Balance Package can help you restore balance.