Is work-life balance a destination you arrive at one day? Or more of a journey that you’re constantly on? So many articles try to help people find work-life balance, but what they miss is that work-life balance is a daily process that can’t be “achieved” so much as it can be aimed for. People who claim to have found work-life balance are usually really saying that they’ve found a variety of ways to balance their work and personal lives each day, in a way that makes the most sense to them.
With the idea that every day presents a new chance to move toward better balance between work and life, here are six ways to balance your work and life.
Prioritize Scheduling. Although schedules are useful, over-scheduling is not. To avoid over-scheduling yourself, don’t treat all tasks as equal. Instead, prioritize the two or three things you MUST accomplish in a given day. Then, add two or three things you’d LIKE to do, but that aren’t imperative. You’ll finish the things that are necessary and feel accomplished, but you won’t feel that sense of overloading that a long to-do list brings.
Avoid multitasking. In our busy lives, it’s inevitable that we attempt to do more than one thing at a time, hoping to get ahead. But rarely does multitasking help us accomplish much. Instead, we wind up partially doing several things–and how do you cross things off your to-do list that you haven’t finished? Whenever possible, do one task at a time. Whether it’s doing research for a project, or calling your parents to say hello, focus on that one thing until it’s done. Your busy mind and to-do list will thank you.
Ask for a more flexible schedule. If you’re finding yourself strapped for time, one easy way to shift your daily schedule is to work different hours. Rather than the traditional 9-to-5 schedule, try working 7-to-3 or 10-to-6. You’ll be able to pick your kids up from school or drop them off, complete personal errands during your mornings or afternoons off, and avoid rush-hour traffic, which will cut down on your daily commute time. Work flexibility is one of the keys to finding work-life balance.
Turn off distractions. So many of the things that distract us today have–conveniently–on/off buttons. Use them! Whenever you’re trying to focus on one task, turn your cell phone to silent, close your email inbox, and shutdown any other programs, electronics, and noise-makers that might get in your way.
Try working from home. Several studies over the last few years, including those by Stanford University and Penn State, have found that people who work from home are more productive than their in-office counterparts. Additionally, if you don’t have to commute to work, you’ll find an average of 60 extra minutes of free time in your day because the average American commutes 30 minutes to and from work.
Make work-life balance the norm, rather than the exception. The struggle to maintain a balance between work and life is often talked about and seldom resolved. While all of these tips help us as individuals, there are ways to help all working professionals find work-life balance. To help not only yourself, but thousands of working professionals just like you throughout the country, join 1 Million for Work Flexibility to voice your support for work flexibility for all.
Rather than taking the above tips and using them all at once to try to find work-life balance, keep them in the back of your mind. Each day, depending on the challenges and opportunities you’re presented with, use whichever tips will help you balance work and life the most, and know that every day will offer you the chance to regain your balance.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs and a contributing writer for 1 Million for Work Flexibility, the first national initiative to bring people together and create a collective voice in support of work flexibility. If you value flexible work options, join 1 Million for Work Flexibilityto voice your support for work flexibility for all.