5 Steps to Improving Work Life Balance

We all need to balance our work and life so here are 5 steps to improving work life balance for you.

Rocks balanced at the beach

Step 1 – Family First

  • Never miss a family event because of work. If your work is more important than family, then do yourself a favor and find a new career.
    • This one is so critical. I have heard many stories of people late in their life regretting not spending enough time with family so don’t be one of them. I have been tempted on many occasions to skip one of my kids events because, honestly, it wasn’t that important to me……but it is for them.
  • Add important family events and dates to your calendar so you don’t forget.Family at the beach
    • I have missed so many birthdays and anniversaries, not my own though, so I finally started putting them in my calendar and giving myself a reminder a week in advance.
  • Communicate with your family and friends.
    • Some of us may be good at this but I personally get a 2 out of 10 for communication so here is my wake up call to start improving now.
  • Grow a strong support network.
    • Do you have people you can talk to and get quality advice from? If not, then start looking for people like this.
  • Set your priorities.
    • Many times we wander through life and let circumstances dictate what we do. Start setting your priorities and don’t be blown around by every situation that comes your way. That goes for the good and the bad.
  • Forget about work when you’re spending time with family and friends. They can tell if your mind is someplace else.
    • Have you ever talked with someone and you know they were shaking their head in understanding and saying the right words but they were not listening to a thing you were saying? Don’t be one of these people.
  • Protect your family time and your relaxation time.
    • Don’t let your work take precedence over your downtime and family time. You may have to walk away from your phone so you can’t see if a call, email or text comes through.

Step 2 – Organize Your Life

  • Plan for relaxation in your schedule.
    • Is your life all about work or your hobby? Are you constantly going 100 miles per hour? That’s not healthy and you’ll probably end up in the hospital before long. You need to find some down time or quiet time.
  • Take time for your loved ones, family and friends.
    • I mentioned this above but I mention it here again because you need to plan for these times.
  • Set aside time for taking care of your home, car, yard, boat, etc.
    • Have you ever been so busy that you don’t have enough time for sleep and you definitely don’t have time for those pesty old chores. You need to make time for them as well.Calendar
  • Take time to find out and know what are the most important things in your life.
    • There was one particular time I grabbed my mountain bike and hit the trails on my own. I wasn’t getting into shape for an upcoming race or to burn some calories. I wanted to get away to a beautiful spot where I could think clearly and relax. I had a note pad with me and after sitting for an hour or so, I started writing things down that I really wanted in life. I still have that list and some incredible goals and priorities came from that time alone in the mountains.
  • Eliminate distractions.
    • Here’s a hard one to address but an easy one to take care of. Get rid of the unnecessary distractions in your life. There are necessary distractions you will have to live with but don’t keep the unnecessary ones around.
  • Learn time management.
    • Take some time to list all the things you do in a day or a week and then look back and find things that don’t need to be done or can be combined with other things to save you time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no.
    • This can be really hard. You may have to say no to something that is good but if a good thing is taking you away from your family, then either get rid of it or find a way to include your family.
  • Simplify your life.
    • Some of the most content and happy people I have met in my life are those who have kept their lives simple.
  • Set short and long term goals for your life and your work.
    • We all need goals and not just the one where we want to travel to the moon. Set short term goals, like getting excepted into NASA or the military as a stepping stone to get to the moon.
  • Stop checking work emails when you’re relaxing.
    • Here is a smack upside the head for me. I am always checking my phone for messages. I need to walk away from it at times.
  • Have set work hours. This is especially important for those of us who work at home or remotely.
    • This is another wake up call for me. I find that I actually work more now since I work remotely and it’s easy to walk into office and start working……again.
  • Create a work space that is only for work and leave it alone when you’re finished.
    • It’s best if you have the ability to create a separate work space so you really can walk out, close the door and leave work behind.

Step 3 – Take Care of Yourself

  • Eat healthy.
    • How many of us end up with a difficult life because we didn’t eat right for so many years. Do yourself a favor and eliminate this from causing trouble later for your work life balance.
  • Exercise regularly.
    • It can be tempting to run out the door and get working and think you’ll exercise later but how many times does life get in the way later in the day and then we found ourselves going to sleep without working out?
  • Drop activities that drain your energy and are time intensive.
    • Look at your activities that drain you of energy and/or time and decide if they are a priority in your life. If not, then dump them.
  • Get regular health checkups.Hiker on a mountain
    • How many times have you skipped a doctor’s appointment, especially if it was for a full physical? I have! This reminds me of a sad story when my mother was not getting regular checkups and if she had, they may have seen some symptoms that eventually lead to a massive stroke that she has never recovered from.
  • Find a hobby you love.
    • I bring this up, not to make your life more busy but to encourage you to find a hobby that gets you away from work and helps reduce your stress levels.
  • Volunteer to help others. This will put things into perspective.
    • Sometimes we think our life just outright sucks, until we see the struggles that many other people are faced with. Learn to put others first at times and it will give you more perspective and joy in your life, but be mindful of engaging in so much volunteer work that you ignore your own family.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep.
    • You will eventually have many more health problems if you don’t get enough sleep. This is also an area I need to improve in.
  • Don’t work every evening.
    • We need down time. Find time to step away from your job, your hobbies, your chores and even your family at times.
  • Find an accountability partner or mentor.
    • I have seen so many great things happen when people find accountability partners or mentors. Remember that even though you may not feel like you have enough experience to be a mentor, there is always someone that can benefit by having you in their lives
  • Find time to getaway and unplug.
    • I can’t say enough about this one. Make sure you getaway and unwind. I personally like to take off to the mountains and spend time hiking, camping or just relaxing in a cabin. Find some “me” time.

Step 4 – Take Long Vacations

  • Enjoy your weekends.
    • Make sure you unwind on the weekends. Maybe you take a two or three day weekend, but at the very least, have a day that is yours to relax and enjoy.
  • Take long vacations of at least one week and preferably two weeks.Hot air Balloon rides
    • I have seen several studies that indicate we need at least a week and a half to really unwind from work. They stress that it is better to take all of your vacation at one time rather than be spread out over the year. Many of us don’t even take all of our vacations and how many companies even have benefits if you don’t take all of it? I have personally found that a week and a half is the perfect vacation time because I am usually ready to get back home near the end of the second week.
  • Travel the World.
    • Travel the world if you can and see how other people live. We don’t have everything figured out here and we’ll learn so much by experiencing other cultures.
  • Don’t forget to experience all there is in your local community.
    • Don’t forget to visit all the great places near where you live. I remember growing up in Oregon and Washington and being upset when, years later, people asked me if I had visited this or that place and I hadn’t even heard about it and it was in my back yard.
  • Start planning your next vacation. This will help improve your mood and give you something good to look forward to.
    • I am a planner so it always makes me happy and improves my mood when our family can plan and look forward to an upcoming vacation. It is also good to plan ahead so you know how much money you’ll need.
  • Create some long weekends to explore great places near where you live.
    • I mentioned this before but I want to reiterate it. Plan for some long weekends in your area and explore. Sometimes those 3 and 4 day weekends are enough to help you unwind.

Step 5 – Find the Career You Love

I have saved this one for last because it is ultimately way down the list when it comes to work life balance. It actually may not even belong on the list but I have put it in my list because having a wonderful career and loving what you do will have a positive impact on your life and the life of your family and friends, as long as you don’t spend all of your waking time in it because you love it so much.

  • Find something you have a passion for.Rescue diver
    • This is hard to sometimes do but never give up finding a career you have a passion for. You may even need to take a pay cut or completely change career fields to make this happen but don’t go through life doing everything for the almighty dollar. It’s not worth it in the end.
  • If you dread going to work then start making plans to find something else, even if that means going back to school.
    • I remember going through college with several older students who had the guts to make big changes to improve their lives and find something they were passionate about. Don’t forget this one and be ready to make the tough call even when it means you will be really busy while working and attending college. This won’t help your work life balance in the short term but it may pay huge dividends in the long term.
  • Continue growing and learning your trade or craft.
    • It’s important if you are in the field you love to make time to continue learning and growing in your career field. You’ve heard the old line that if you’re not moving forward, then you are standing still or falling behind. There is a real life experience I have had where I wasn’t learning much over a five-year period and at the end of it I realized I had fallen way behind in the technology and software that was being used in my profession.

Work Life Balance is Personal

There are many great ideas and helpful tips in the list above but you have to find what works best for you and your family. This may take some hard work and some experimenting but if you keep trying and moving forward then you’ll eventually get closer to the mark.

Feel free to leave a comment below and add some additional ideas to help with this work life balance.

Click HERE to read my Remote Working Best Practices which compliments this article well.

 

 

 

14 Comments on “5 Steps to Improving Work Life Balance”

  1. Wow I really like your website! There is some solid advice about family in here that really resonates with me! Awesome job putting this together and I will be bookmarking this one!

    1. I’m glad I could help. It also helps me to see this as there are several things I need to work on and incorporate into my life.

      Thank you for the kind comment.

  2. ^^This^^.

    Rick, I love this post. I was reading along and nodding.

    One of the reasons I am now working from home is to spend as many moments as I can with my family. We only get to do this life once – I do NOT want to be the person who has missed out on all the moments because I’ve been too caught up in work.

    I wish I’d come to this realisation a few more years ago, but the important thing is that’s how I’m living my life now. We have taken some amazing vacations with our boys and I know they’ll remember them when they are older. I give the same advice that you’ve written here to anyone who will listen. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That is great that you are taking advantage of working remotely and being able to spend quality time with your family. It can be challenging to make the decision to make this change but it is rewarding. I work at home as an engineer but I am looking forward to even more freedom and flexibility as I continue to build my online business.

      Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing.
    Definitely #2 is an important one for me.. If I don’t have some level of organization, I’ll get nothing done. I usually like to have a to do list, sometimes i work on the most pressing things sometimes i work on something i feel like working on… but either way.. it’s my version of organized. 🙂

    1. That’s great advice. I am a big advocate of being organized but also finding what works best for you. There is no one list that will solve everyone’s problems but we can pick and choose what works best for us.

  4. Rick,
    Great advice and best of all, your steps are short enough to put on Post-its to use as reminders. I agree with everything you mention and while I like to think I do a pretty good job, I have to say that my biggest fault is not putting away the phone and actually spending quality one-on-one time with the people who matter most in my life. My question is, what do you do when you find your “me time” (that I have used for years) is a part of your work-time? Talk about trying to balance!
    Thanks for a great article!
    Sanders

    1. My “ME” time, which I don’t like the sound of because I think we can get too fixated on ourselves too often, is taking long drives to the mountains or going to the lake and watching nature. It can be anytime when I’m away, or mostly away, from traffic and a lot of people. Even a long drive is ok when I get time to think and enjoy my approach to the Rocky Mountains and watch the mountains grow larger and larger. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy when I don’t live around those beautiful majestic mountains.

      Did my response answer your question?

  5. This is a great post. Most people are struggling on improving the work life. After reading your post, it really recommend some of the step in your post would help and I would give it a try. Thank you

    1. I’m glad I could help. Trust me when I say I need to work on this as much as anyone else with the exception of family time. I do spend a lot of time with my family but my 20 year old son is becoming very independent these days, which is a good thing.

  6. This was a wonderful read. People underestimate work life balance quite a lot. It is something I am working on. It is hard to strike the middle ground between too little work and too much. No matter what though, I have to keep my mind busy with something, whether it be The Office on Netflix or my studies.

    I do have a question though. I enjoyed your point about the schedule. It organizes your goals and puts what needs to be done into lanes. If you are okay with it, would you like to share your schedule? I think it would help a lot of people. I look forward to reading your answer.

    Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. My schedule is full of holes but here it is.

      8am – Wake up
      8:30am – Answer emails and messages that came in while sleeping
      9:30am – Begin my day job (I work at home most of the time so there is no drive time)
      12:30pm – 30 minute workout followed by having lunch
      1:30pm – Back to work
      4:30pm – Many family interuptions
      6:00pm – Home remodel DIY project (dinner falls in here some place)
      9:00pm – Begin WA training and create content
      1:30am – Force myself to stop WA training and/or content creation. (That’s only 6.5 hours of sleep)

      Periodically I will take a nap and will catch up with my sleep on the weekend. This is not the best schedule but I get so focused on my website creation that many times I lose track of time.

      You’ll also see that I don’t get 8 hours of work in every day. That’s ok because I always work some on Saturday and once in awhile on Sunday also but I do try to take a real break on Sunday. There are some days when everything goes crazy and I work at my day job for 10 hours or more but the schedule above is more typical.

      I have a lot of improvement to do in my schedule, starting primarily with getting to sleep earlier but I can’t seem to pull myself away from my online business.

    1. My schedule gets messed up also, especially now when we have some major home remodeling going on and I have some projects that are due soon.

      The list is something to check once in a while to see if there is something we can improve on. I like to focus on one thing at a time. The one thing I am focusing on now is waking up earlier, cleaning up and getting dressed/ at least dressed up more than just my shorts and t-shirt I slept in last night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *