Trying to strike a healthy balance between work, family and some “me time” is among the most common sources of stress for working adults. As bills keep going up, more and more are finding it hard to adequately fulfill their roles both at home and in the world, let alone find some time for themselves. But finding a point of harmony between work, your family and your own needs is critical for your relationships, your performance in the workplace, and your own mental sanity.
It may seem like an imposable task at first, but if you follow these tips, you can take back control of your life, and make sure that you, your family and your career flourish.
1. Manage your time
Plan your time carefully and learn to separate work from play. In this age of internet and smart phones, there’s no clear delineation between work and home. Without this clear separation, it can be difficult to completely turn off your work brain when at home.
To help with this issue but still allow a place to work at home for emergencies, I recommend setting a distinct work zone. If you have a home office, then great! But if you don’t, pick a dedicated spot at your kitchen table for where you’ll do work, and set yourself time limits to make sure you get some personal time too.
You can also do work inside local libraries or coffee shops, if you want to completely separate home and work life. Once you are through with your work you can leave the working area, which help you to transition to your personal life.
2. Determine Your Priorities
To effectively juggle between your work, family and personal life, you need to determine where your priorities lie. No matter how hard we try to fit everything in, sometimes we have to make a clear choice between our personal and working lives. If you value your family the most and your boss is wanting to work overtime but you’ll miss an important family event, having clear priorities will help politely, but firmly tell them you can’t.
It might be hard at first, but it’s good for the soul to stay true to yourself, and after a while you’ll realize that in most cases there are happy compromises. For instance, you can tell your boss that unfortunately you cannot this time, but next time they require extra leg work, you’ll be happy to help out.
3. Create a Schedule
Life is so hectic these days, that it can be hard to juggle everything in our mind. Is the meeting on Wednesday or Thursday? And is soccer practice cancelled this week or next week? Creating a schedule will help you visualize and manage your days, will lower your stress and will free up the occupying brain space for other things.
4. Avoid procrastination
Can you imagine what your life would be like if you stopped procrastinating and smashed through your to-do list every day? Not only would your checklist get smaller as you wouldn’t need to worry about things left uncompleted, your life would be far less stressful too. At the time, we like to justify why we’re holding tasks off, but the truth is, we’re not really enjoying that slack time when we’ve still got unfinished things left floating around in our head. We can’t truly relax knowing that we’ll have still get things done in the future, but under more stress and an even smaller deadline.
Create more time to do the things you enjoy and to spend time with your family by developing strategies to fight and avoid the urge to procrastinate. Countless techniques have been developed over the years, but getting up and moving for a few minutes is a great way to shift your mental state back to the task at hand, and so is planning little rewards for yourself for once you’ve completed what you need to do.
5. Take Care of Your Health
It’s hard to work at 100% if our bodies aren’t feeling 100%. Make sure you get some physical exercise in each day and eat healthy, to keep your body feeling fresh and your mind clear. Not only will your work quality and efficiency improve, you’ll be feeling great when it’s time to spend some time on yourself or your loved ones.
6. Learn to handle social media
Social media is perhaps the greatest source of distraction in the modern age. It’s designed to be addictive and makes us feel like we’re keeping in contact with friends and loved ones, when in fact, it’s robbing us of genuine connection. Limit your social media use each day and avoid glancing during free moments, to start breaking your addiction to it. Learn to look at your surroundings and enjoy the moment.
Doing this will make you want to catch up with friends and family in person, and when we want something enough, we always find out a way to make it happen.
7. Dress differently when you are going to work
For those who work from home or have a lax work attire policy in the office, wearing different clothes for work is a great way to shift your mental state between leisure time and work time. By doing this, you’ll learn to keep a work only mental state when work needs to be done, and also learn to turn the work brain off when it’s time to enjoy yourself and the company of those close to you.
8. Take a lunch break
Though you might think that skipping your lunch break is great for work productivity, as it adds an extra half an hour to get more work done in, by doing this you may actually be doing yourself a disservice. Our brains only have a certain amount of charge before they need to rest and recuperate. Letting your brain take the mid-day break it needs will increase your concentration and coping abilities, as well as your emotional intelligence, and will improve your memory and decision-making skills to get through the second half of the day.
Giving your brain good nutritional food during your lunch break will also increase your productivity for the rest of the day, so that you get everything you need done at the office and not have to take work home with you.
Balancing between work, family and personal life may seem impossible at first. But if you follow the right strategies things will get easier, and you may end up finding that it wasn’t as hard as you thought it was afterall.