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