We work to live, not live to work. But that’s easier said than done. Sometimes the pressure to perform and the crazy deadlines can push us to spend longer and longer hours at the office—or bring home mounds of work to do on the weekend. Since most of us can’t afford to quit our jobs, these tips can help us achieve work-life balance—despite our workloads.
Pencil in ‘me time’
Instead of muttering, ‘I never see my friends’ or ‘I don’t have time to red anymore!’ schedule relaxation time the way you would any other meeting. And make it specific! For example, actually call up the salon and schedule a spa session this Saturday, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. You’re more likely to actually go and do it if there is a concrete plan.
Same thing goes for regular activities. If you never have time to exercise, then work it into your routine. Buy a yoga DVD and wake up an hour earlier every day so you can do it before you go to work. Or, if you haven’t picked up a book in ages, bring one with you every day and read a chapter while waiting for a meeting to start or over your lunch break.
Let go of draining activities
Are you putting time into things that give you no value or meaning. For example, how much time did you waste gossiping with your co-workers today? Or restlessly flipping through the channels while waiting for the pizza to arrive? Or what about Facebook time—reading through stupid status updates or playing Farmville? Isn’t that time you could spend on all those things you say you never have time for?
Look for a dry cleaner’s who can drop off items at your office. Buy groceries or pay bills online. Pay a kid from the neighborhood to mow your lawn. These little things can free you from errands that eat into your evenings and weekends—so you have time to do the things you really love.
There are some things you want to do really well, but give yourself permission to lower standards for things that don’t matter in the long run. Look at your priorities. A busy working mom may want to prioritize helping kids with homework—even if it means not freaking out if the living room isn’t perfectly clean.
Take mini breaks
You may not have time to go on a long vacation, but surely you have 20 minutes? Taking little breaks can help relieve stress. For example, if you enjoy drawing, then bring a little sketchbook so you can doodle in between meetings. And little treats like scented lotions or foot soaks can help turn an ordinary evening at home into a personal spa session.