Are you burnt out? Do you feel like you have so much to do, and no energy to do it? While most experts will simply tell you, ‘Stop working so hard!’ the fact is that most of us can’t. Thanks to the global recession, we’re afraid of getting fired, and are usually doing the work of those who have been. Others are working double shifts, or taking on extra work, just to pay the bills.
But there is a way to achieve work life balance within that grueling schedule—by bringing in more enjoyment to your day, and finding little ‘escapes’ where you can.
Schedule in downtime.
Take a highlight and mark off one hour a day, three times a week. That’s for recreational activities, like dinner with your husband or a quiet lunch alone where you can read your favorite book at a cozy café. This will give you something wonderful to look forward to, and may even help you manage your time more efficiently: ‘I really have to finish this report early, so I can leave by 6 pm and catch that movie with my friends.’
Give quality time
You don’t have to be with your family the whole day to make them feel loved. It’s the quality, not the quantity, of the hours. For example, one hour where they get undivided attention means more to them than a day of being hushed and half-ignored by a distracted parent. Go to the park with your kids on Saturday morning, or bake cookies with them on Sunday afternoon. Turn off your cellphones after dinner. Or wake up an hour earlier so you can linger over breakfast with your husband
Let go of draining activities
Do only what gives you enjoyment and adds value to your life. For example, it’s pointless to spend two hours gossiping with a disgruntled co-worker, or nit-picking over a report that really has nothing to do with your main job goals. And you’d be surprised at how many hours you waste overchecking your email. Focus on what really matters (for more tips, read our article on the 80/20 principle).
Find an easy way to do finish menial tasks and errands
Why not order your groceries online, or pay someone to mow your lawn? Or save hours worrying what to cook for dinner by signing up for an online recipe community that creates meal plans or emails 20 minute meals. At work, consider training someone to take over certain tasks—you’ll be teaching him a valuable skill while freeing yourself to work on more exciting and challenging projects.
It’s hard to find time to exercise, but that 30 minutes of cardio will help you become more productive because it boosts your energy levels, help alleviate stress and wards off health problems. Some studies even show that exercise increases concentration and makes you more alert. Read on exercise videos for busy people.
Take baby steps towards balance
Balance is not all-or-nothing. Many people think that since they can’t leave the office at six pm sharp, overtime is a way of life. Or, since they don’t have time to do a hobby regularly, they decide to give up completely on something they love—whether it’s painting or singing.
Take baby steps towards balance. If you have to do overtime, aim to at least keep Friday evenings free. Or, if you don’t have time to join a band, at least have one karaoke month a night with friends, just so you get to do something fun.
Take 15 minute breaks
Even on the busiest days you can take a 15 minute ‘vacation.’ Just do something silly, fun or relaxing. Take a long, relaxing shower. Read one chapter of a trashy novel. Eat your favorite ice cream while listening to your favorite music. Do what makes you happy.
Photo from newsthump.com