Dream job. Check! Wonderful family. Check! Stressed out because we can’t seem to find the right mix of balancing the two into that glittering Hollywood-style movie, perfect life?
Let’s face it, we all know that one person who appears to get that sought-after goal of balancing work and life so well. They do well at their job and really enjoy it. Their family is well adjusted and enjoy spending time together, and to top it off, they make it look so easy. So how do they do it?
Most of the work-life balance conundrum could be remedied if we just had a few more hours in the day, right? Wrong. We don’t need more time, we just need to be better at using the time we have. The truth is, it is easy. Here are a few tips on how to achieve that coveted work-life balance.
Learn to use the most powerful word in the English language. Not only is it the most powerful word in the English language, but also one of the shortest. Learn to say “No”. Most successful people understand this and are not afraid to say it. This is more about not making yourself available for everything and everyone, all of the time. It’s also not about being rude. If you are already fully committed, there is nothing wrong in turning someone down.
This also means knowing when to call time on work, especially if you work in a 9-to-5 office setting. Most work emails received after 5pm can wait until the next day before being responded to. It comes down to knowing your limits. Being effective is all about being aware of your strengths, your weaknesses and the limits of both.
Know your Limits
Knowing these limits will also assist you in being able to plan what to do when, or in other words -prioritising. There really is no point rushing to finish the job with the longest deadline while ignoring the most pressing one. Prioritising is also about doing one job at a time and doing it well. Multi-tasking tends to drain us faster, and even though we may feel like we are being productive, superhuman athletes, the fact is, all we’ve really done is waste a lot of time shuttling between all the different tasks. Time that could have spent completing one job well.
This leads us to work smarter, not harder. An example of this is having clearly thought out, focussed “to do” and “completed” lists. A well-planned list can assist you in breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more readily achievable ones. Once they are completed, they get moved onto the complete list. This may sound a bit strange when you could simply draw a line through the completed task, but the process of doing this keeps you focused on what has been completed and what is still required. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment when you look back at both lists, and you can see what has been achieved.
By implementing these strategies, the pay off for the life part of work-life balance comes into play, by effectively “having more time”. When your work tasks are well planned and you work to your strengths within your limits, you become more effective at what you are doing. The benefit being you are less stressed out by the little things and are more relaxed when you are away from work, allowing you to be fully engaged in your life outside of work.