I don’t care if you have children or live at home with mom and dad, are single or married, in this world, the struggle is real. In a 24 hour period Americans spend most of their time working and sleeping and very little time on leisure activities.
In a full year we will work around 1700 hours. We have to, money makes the world go ’round, but everyone deserves to play too. I am a freelance artist and most of my work is done from home. It becomes a lot of time to be stuck at the office (which is my couch) for days (more like weeks).
That’s no way to live. I enjoy hard work but I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor too. Over time, especially after having my children, I’ve learned how important it is to try and achieve balance between my personal and professional lives:
- Work to live, don’t live to work. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a job you love, you can’t do it 24/7. For those who don’t have a dream job, it’s important to have a well lived life outside of work to make work worth it. Everyone deserves to have things they enjoy. Get a hobby, join a club, take a class or invest in some other type of personal development.
- Take your vacation and personal time. Don’t be a workaholic. You don’t have to be the first one in and the last one out of the office everyday. It’s ok to go the extra mile at work but not at the cost of your personal time. Take all of your paid days and use your hard-earned money to make memories that don’t involve co-workers.
- Make self-care a priority. Work can be stressful, whether you love or hate your job. Even people who work in Disney Land can become disenchanted after a while. Self-care – any intentional actions you take for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being – is crucial for work + life balance. Do things that make you feel good. A bubble-bath, time at the gym, cooking, running, reading, knitting, anything that helps you decompress.
- Take a “time inventory”. Sometimes we go about our days on auto-pilot not really paying much attention to how we get from point A to point B. I recommend taking a personal inventory of the way you are spending your time (you can download a special app or just use a good old-fashioned note pad to keep a journal of how you are spending the hours in your day). Eventually, you will begin to see the difference between how you actually spend your time versus how you think you spend it. From there, you can cut out activities that suck time away from more important things.
- Practice time management. Once you know how you are spending your time, the trick is managing it wisely. I maintain a separate calendar to help me keep my personal life on schedule. In my family we use a wall calendar and white board to keep reminders and mark important events like school plays and family movie nights. You can use an app, a date book, Google or whatever is most convenient for you. If you put it on your calendar keep the commitment, if you can’t, don’t put it on the calendar at all.
- Prioritize quality time. Whether it’s time with your partner, the kids, family or your friends, make time with your loved ones a priority. It doesn’t have to be a major event, game night, wine time, dinner or the movies can all be great ways to make lasting memories. Don’t put this at the end of your to-do list. Take out your calendar and pencil it in immediately. You wont regret it.
- Learn the power of no. There are certain responsibilities you take on because they fell in your wheel house . Like signing for all the packages at work because your desk is near the entrance. Then there are obligations that fall to you whether you wanted them or not. Like ordering company office supplies, helping mom run errands or playing chauffeur to the kids. I don’t mind my laundry list of chores but it can get overwhelming. Here’s the most powerful secret I’ll ever share with you…you are allowed to say “no” (I give you permission). Instead, enlist coworkers, siblings, neighbors or your life partner to help out. This will free you up for some well-deserved down-time.
Your time is precious. Your time is money. Give it to those who are worth it and save it for what is most important in your life.
Did you already know all these tips? What kinds of things would you suggest? Share your best balancing tricks in the comments below.