“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”
Most people think that work-life balance is like squeezing water from a stone — too difficult to perform. And it is by far, without question, one of the most significant struggles faced by modern man. But actually, the key is to not prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Yes, you need to work hard in order to achieve your dreams and give yourself, your family, and the people you love a better life. But that doesn’t mean sacrificing your physical & mental health to continue pursing your career growth. Because these can all lead to frustration, emotional burnout, lack of focus, and unhappiness. You can also experience diseases, pain, sleeplessness, and emotional eating.
Life is not perfect and things don’t always go as planned. You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you. And you may never know, but more and more people nowadays are getting successful in their work-life balance journey.
If you want to be one of them, here are 12 habits you need to start doing right now:
1. Balance your passions and energy
One of the most common mistakes very busy people make is that they force to schedule every minute of their time, fitting all the tasks in one day (or even in one sitting).
There’s nothing wrong with accomplishing deadlines as early as possible. But don’t forget to ask yourself, are you getting all the jobs ‘passionately’ done? And how about your energy? Are you still enjoying what you do?
Passion is what makes you great. It will be too difficult to pursue your passion if your energy keeps on draining. So take a break a first, then resume once you regain your energy. Find whatever works for you and let go of the negative energy.
Time flies, that’s the bad news. But the good news is, you’re the pilot. Balancing your passion and energy are the ultimate keys to proper time management.
2. Let go of fear
To achieve a healthy and productive balance between work and life, you have to let go of the fear that if you’re not working, your career will fail. Or fear that if you give yourself more rest than you usually do, you’ll end up with piles of paperworks.
Yes, you need to work hard and try your best for your career. Never take it for granted. But the right thing to do is to be thankful, rather than fear.
Your company still has the probability of failing, and it will not be your fault. You may lose your job one day, even if you tried your best, because it’s out of your control.
The sky will not fall on you even if you take a lot of breaks, or left some stuff unchecked on your to-do-list. Don’t aim for perfection, aim for progress. Let go of fear so you will truly start living.
3. Be proactive at home
After you’ve had a productive day at work, as soon as you get home, stop thinking about what you need to do at work the next day. Or worry about some of the tasks left undone in the office.
You have working hours and you should respect that. After your working schedule, even if you have unfinished work, leave it be. Once you’re home, your mind and heart should be for your family and loved ones only.
Many broken relationships and families happen due to lack of time and communication. If you have children, if you want to raise them right, spend thrice as much time with them and only half as much money. Same goes for your significant other. Plus, your parents aren’t getting any younger too. Find time to spend with them. You can achieve all these if you try to be more proactive at home.
4. Set boundaries at work
Setting work boundaries will help you safeguard your energy and time so you can be more fulfilled by what you do.
If your back is aching because you’ve been sitting too much, get up, leave your desk for a while, and start walking outside.
If your eyes hurt due to prolonged exposure to computer screens, pause for a while and do some eye exercises.
Don’t be afraid to take small breaks even if it is out of your usual break time because you’re doing it for your physical and mental health. Just make sure to advise the management or your colleagues so they will know what’s happening to you and how you’re feeling.
This will help you produce more quality works than just focusing on the deadline. Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and authentic in your work.
5. Practice what you preach
Don’t go educating others about work-life balance, then send emails during your family time. Or stay late out of your working schedule because you overlooked something at work.
In all honesty, you don’t really want to send that email or work late. You just have to comply with it since it is needed for your job. But doing so will only break your belief that work-life balance truly exists.
You may lie to everyone else, but you can never lie to yourself. Always walk the talk.
6. Communicate openly and honestly
Honesty and communication always go best in the long run, no matter what aspect of life it is.
If you’re having troubles or struggles at work, let your team know. If you’re having problems with your family, let them know how you feel and how you’re planning to resolve it.
Being an honest and communicative person is hard. But with the freedom it can bring, especially to your work-life balance, it’s worth trying.
7. Slow down
Breakfast in front of the computer? Not a good idea. If you want to develop a great balance between your work and life, you need to follow a proper routine.
If it is your breakfast or lunchtime, enjoy your meal without scrolling through your emails or social media accounts.
You can also go outside where you can enjoy your meal more, with a change of location and a breath of fresh air. You can talk to your colleagues too to establish a closer connection with them. Don’t cloud your mind with too much tasks. For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
For a bonus tip: go on frequent vacation. It doesn’t always need to be an expensive trip. What matters is taking a break and giving yourself rewards for all of your efforts.
8. Get fit
What is balance if you’re not healthy? Even if you feel exhausted from work or projects, ensure that you’re still eating healthy and being active.
One great way to establish a healthy eating habit is to replace all your food items, like condiments, snacks, beverages, bread, and meat choices, into healthier ones.
So instead of buying chips at the grocery store next time, reach for mixed veggie crisps. Rather than buying white bread, choose wheat bread. Also, don’t buy processed meat. You can always choose high-quality, frozen meats that can be easily prepared the next day.
Going gluten-free is one of the healthiest options you can consider too. And don’t forget to exercise even for just 5-10 minutes a day. Working out helps clear up your mind and makes you feel more alive.
9. Take a break from tech
Both at home and work, you have the power over devices. It’s true that in our modern era nowadays, technology is very important. But you should know when to take a break from it so you can be more focused and productive in other ways.
If you’re eating, stop scrolling on your phone so you can appreciate your food. If you’re at home, bond with your family instead of checking your social media accounts first. You cannot control the internet. Sometimes you may see contents that can destroy your inner peace or ruin your mood. And these can bring negative energy not just to yourself, but to the people around you.
Establishing a proper work-life balance means paying attention to more important things while setting aside the least important ones. A good relationship with your loved ones and having serenity are more important than technology.
10. Be humorous
Having an unbalanced life leads to poor interpersonal and social skills. Since you’re too busy and preoccupied, you won’t even notice that you seldom smile and you don’t crack jokes anymore.
Smiling and laughing will make you stronger and more resilient. Don’t let the happy you turn into a gloomy person. Smile more and be funny. It’s not wrong to be silly sometimes.
11. Socialize and connect more to people
Even if you already did the habits mentioned earlier, if you lack socialization in your life, you still don’t have a successful your work-life balance.
Even if you’re an introvert, I’m sure you have a friends. Find time to catch up or hang out with them more often. Your heart will always be full every time you share laughter and memories with your friends.
You can also make new friends, join social groups or organizations to gain more experience and expand your connections.
12. Delegate household tasks if you can
If you have extra cash that won’t affect your necessary expenses, you can hire someone to help you with the household chores.
If you have a helper, they can do the laundry and the dishes so you can spend more time with your child.
If you pay for a lawn service, you can save more energy to relax and have your me-time rather than spending hours mowing your lawn.
Most people see this as an ‘unnecessary expense’ but actually, it’s like buying extra time so you can do more important things than performing household tasks.
Balance is not all about having better time management, but rather achieving better boundary management. It means making choices and enjoying those choices so you can live freely, happily and productively.