8 Tips for Achieving a Work/Life Balance

How would you characterize your work/life balance?  Is the scale leaning more to the work side than you’d like?  If so, it’s time to even things out, make a few changes, and get yourself on the path of having a fulfilling life outside of work! Today, I’m joining the B Bar for a Blog Linkup party and sharing my 8 tips for achieving work/life balance!

I am a STRONG believer in having a balance in work and life.  Personally and professionally, I am not impressed by folks that burn the midnight oil on a regular basis or fail to use their alloted vacation days.  There's a misconception in our society that both of those indicate a stronger work ethic or a deeper dedication to the job.

I think that is a load of crap!

In my job, I'm a manager.  I work in the corporate world at a technology company with a lot of really smart, really driven people.  I have three people that report to me and as their manager, I do not want them working nights or weekends on a regular basis (yes, sometimes a project that is on a tight deadline may require this a little, but it should not be the norm).  They won't impress me as hard workers if they do either of these and you know why?  They're better employees and team members if they have down time and a life outside of work!

So, when I saw that the ladies over at the the B Bar were hosting a linkup on this very topic, I knew I had to share my thoughts on the topic!

The B Bar's Blog Linkup party for April 2015 - talking all about how to achieve a work/life balance!

At the end of this post, not only will you find a free printable to download, but I'll also provide links to all of the other awesome blogs that are sharing their thoughts on the same topic!  Fun, right?!

8 Tips for Achieving a Work/Life Balance

#1 | Set Goals A big part of achieving a work/life balance is being organized with your time

Set goals for yourself, both personally and professionally, so that you are spending time on the things that are most important.  If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm a big goal setter and that's for a reason! It helps me stay focused and achieve what I want to achieve.  But...it also allows me to plan my time better so I'm not wasting my time (see the next tip for on this!).

#2 | Learn time management skills

Good time management skills will likely vary from person to person, but the goal is to stop wasting time when you are working so that it doesn’t spill over into your non-work time (and for your personal time, it’ll allow you to get more of the things you want to do done!).

For me, the best trick that keeps me focused is setting a timer and turning off all other distractions.  I do this routinely for blog writing, cleaning the house, etc.  For work, when I’m struggling to stay focused on a project, turning off the constant email notifications, setting my IM status to ‘Do Not Disturb’, and setting that timer, gets me honed in on the task at hand.  

Whether personal or professional…I inevitably get done faster and with more focus (i.e. better).  Getting good at this will help you finish your work day on time and leave your free time all to you!

I also make us of a planner (see tip #7 for some more deets!) and a daily planning sheet to organize my day and my time! 

#3 | Have hobbies/passions outside of work

Let me ask you a question…can you think of 3 hobbies that you enjoy outside of work right now?  If the answer is yes…good!  If your answer is no….then, you definitely need to work on this!

Finding things to enjoy outside of work will give you motivation to DO things outside of work!

If you have a job that you love and is also your passion, that is awesome! You're living the dream!  But....I'm betting you're working all the time because you love what you do so much.  

Here's a quirky tip...indulging in hobbies and passions outside of your work will allow your brain to take a much needed break and allow for more productive work and better ideas when you return to your work tasks. 

#4 | Don't check work email outside of work hours

I get that some of you have jobs where this is a requirement, so I'm not directing this at you, because you don't have a choice.  But for others...

...if you aren’t required to check messages when you’re off the clock…DON’T!

I pretty much have a policy that I will not check emails when I am taking a vacation day.  I don’t care if I’m sitting at home enjoying a me-day or out of town on vacation.  If I am taking my well-earned vacation day, I’m doing just that!  

The second you check in on email or messages, you are mentally sucked right back into work and you either start answering emails, or it’s then weighing on your mind.  With the exception of a few jobs, it’ll still be there when you return and it’ll be just fine.

#5 | Use your vacation days!! You’ve earned them, so use them!

I squeeze every last drop out of my vacation days because I’ve earned them and I have a right to take them (and my company doesn’t allow us to roll them over, so it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em).  

Because I love to travel, I am usually headed somewhere out of town when I take my days off, but sometimes…I take a day off just to hang out at home and relax and do my own thing.  

#6 | Just Say 'No' Your down time is a precious commodity, so you should guard it like the crown jewels!

That doesn't mean being completely selfish with your time or never doing for others...of course not!  But, if you are in need of some 'me-time' (heck, you don't even have to be 'in need' of it...if you just want some 'me-time'), then have the confidence to say 'no' when asked to do something that you have no desire to do.  It's okay!  I promise!  

Your time is just as important as their time!  And no...you do not have to provide an explanation for why you're saying no.  Simply tell them, politely, that you have a prior commitment or have already made other plans.  Nobody has to know that your plans may involve a marathon of your favorite TV show, an afternoon of indulging in your favorite hobby, or time exploring your favorite, local museum!

#7 | Use tools around you to stay organized

There are SO many tools that you can use to keep yourself organized.  Staying on top of where your time is spent and what needs to be done when will help you stay focused and on track.  I'm a bit of a planner freak, so I always have paper planner to corral my to-do lists and appointments.  But, I also like to make use of online apps for remembering things on the go or keep my random ideas and thoughts organized.

Here are a few of my faves (and they're ALL free!):

  • Trapper - Trapper helps to 'trap' your ideas and organize them into similar categories (I use this for blog thoughts, shopping lists, books to read, etc.).
  • Pocket - Pocket allows you to store articles that you want to read later so you don't have to either remember, or spend time trying to find where you found it!
  • IFTTT - IFTTT allows you to set up 'recipes' to do something IF you do something else.  While this isn't specifically a time saving example, I have one set up so I get an email if rain is in the forecast for tomorrow (since I don't always check the forecast!).  There are TONS of time management options, blogging tools, etc., so if this one is new to you...take a peek and fall in love like the rest of us!

#8 | Outsource mundane tasks For all the ‘chores’ that you have to do that suck up your precious free time...OUTSOURCE them!

Things like getting groceries, cleaning your house, doing laundry, paying bills, etc.

How do you outsource these?  Here are a few ideas...

  • House Cleaning: If you can swing a cleaning person, then do it (stock up on those Groupons, ladies!)! Think of the time you'd save and with a clean house to boot!
  • Groceries: If you live in an area that delivers groceries, order online and have them delivered.  I first did this when I broke my foot a few years ago and couldn't drive.  I ordered via Peapod and my groceries were delivered right to my door every single week.  I'm considering doing this again, to also allow me to stick to a budget and prevent the junk food that somehow finds its way into my cart when I am strolling through the aisles!
  • Paying Bills: Set up auto-payments for your regular bills so you don’t have to take the time to ‘pay the bills’.  Not only will your payments never be late, you don't have to take the time to do it each month!

Yes, some of these may cost extra money, but think of it as buying yourself more free time!  Maybe you can’t swing all of it, so pick the one task you hate the most and hire someone to do that one (my goal is to start hiring a cleaning person later this year…I love my house being clean, but I HATE taking the time to clean it!!).

With all this said, I do get that some of you may have bosses that don’t quite get the whole work/life balance thing and require you to check emails/messages when not at the office, or taking all of your vacation days will hurt your opportunities for advancement, so following these tips may not be practical.  If that’s the case, and you are seeking more balance in your life, your only option is to look for other employment opportunities elsewhere.  Ultimately, it’s your life, so you have to take charge of it if you’re in a situation that is either not healthy for you or you’re unhappy.

Just remember...when you are old and gray and reflecting back on your life, I seriously doubt you'll be wishing that you had put in more hours at the office and worked more.  You'll likely wish for more time to follow your dreams,  spend time with family and friends, and enjoy life.

It's great to have a job or career that you truly love and that you want to do every day....just remember that you are more than a job...you are YOU!  So, explore all parts of you and take the time to realize you're worth finding ways to strike a balance between work and life.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you feel you are balancing the work/life thing okay or do you need some work?  And finally, how do YOU balance work and life?  Share your tips and your thoughts below…I’d love to hear what’s on your mind!

Be sure to take some time to check out these other awesome bloggers! I'm looking forward to picking up a few new tips! :) The B Bar | 26 and Not Counting | Rae Loves | Sarah Hartley | Carrie Loves | Soak and Simmer | The Not Quite Adult | White Cabana | PreppyPanache | LiskaMonet | Alyssa J Freitas | Rossetto | With Love From Ellie | Cake & Lilies | Feathers and Stripes | Leigh Clair | White Oak Creative | Life Modifier | Perfect Enough for Us | Random Little Faves | Jacque Of All Trades | Business Betties | Girl for Granted | Alicia Tenise | The Yuppie Flies | It's Droolworthy | Something Good Blog | Elana Lyn | Forth Chicago | Emilie Lima Burke | Manifest Yourself | Fit for a Bride Blog | A Little Leopard | Coral and Cognacs | Little Wild Heart | It's Julien | Boys and Bombshell | Meg Biram | Victoria McGinley