Striking the Work-Life Balance

Have you found yourself working late and spending your off-the-clock time doing work-related activities (like replying to work emails or prepping work for the next day)? If so, it may be time to reconsider where to draw the boundary between your work life and your personal life.

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re vying for a promotion, trying to earn a raise, or managing an ever-increasing workload. But when you spend most of your time working, your home life will take a hit—resulting in added stress, fatigue, and lost time with your family and friends.

Try these tips to take control of your work-life and regain the you-time needed to feel your best, both on and off the job:

• Track where your time goes.Work is an endless well. There will always be more for you to do if you’re looking for it. Start taking note of your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Where is most of your time spent? Can you delegate the extra work you’re taking on? If so, take that option.

• Practice saying no.This simple word is the key to your sanity. Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project, or your boss asking for you to do “just one quick favor” when you’ve already worked overtime the past four days, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. You’ll have more time for the activities that are meaningful to you when you learn to stop feeling guilty over not taking on more responsibilities.

• Take advantage of your options. Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting, or other scheduling flexibility. The more control you have over your hours, the less stress you’ll feel.

• Leave work at work.Reinforce the boundary between work and home by refusing to check your work email or opening your laptop after you leave the office. Instead, fully invest yourself in the time you spend with your loved ones and unwinding from the long day.

• Manage your time.Don’t save household chores and errands solely for your day off. Instead, organize them in batches throughout the week so you don’t feel as though you trade one kind of workday for another. Simply do what needs to be done and let the rest go.

• Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get a little physical activity in your day, and catch your beauty sleep. And be sure each day you do something you love, such as curl up with a great book or practice yoga. Remember your well-being is just as important as your work demands and deadlines. Treat it accordingly.

What are some ways you maintain the work-life balance?


How to Reduce Stress by Managing Your Time

time managementTime (or lack of) is a big stressor for many of us, and managing our time can reduce that stress significantly. Time management is something most of us lack, and just a few ideas can help you get a handle on your time and spend it wisely.

The following time management tips are simple but effective:

Get a planner.

Part of the reason we are so stressed is because everything we need to remember is scattered: sticky notes here, cell phone memos there—and then we try to commit important tasks and dates to memory. Everything needs to be in one place, preferably in something you can carry with you at all times.

A planner is the most efficient and easiest way to keep track of everything. It doesn’t have to be large or complicated—you’ll be surprised at how many different planners you’ll find once you make the decision to use one. Some planners are very low tech, while others will also update your computer or other electronic devices. Get whichever makes sense for you. The main goal is to use it.

Plan your day and prioritize your tasks.

Use the planner to decide what you’ll do each day, and determine which tasks have high priority. Those are the tasks you should be focusing on. This is not to say the low-priority tasks are not important, but those with high priority should take precedence. Track your progress each day so you can see how efficiently you’re working.

Quit trying to remember everything.

The planner will become a significant part of your brain once you start to use it. You’ll be amazed at how free you’ll feel when you don’t have to try to remember everything. Just consult your planner each morning, and live your life.

Learn to say no.

Here’s another great use for the planner—it’s a great way to tell someone no easily and gracefully. If you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do or don’t have time for, pull out your planner and consult it, and then tell that person you’re booked on that date.

Delegate when and where you can.

Do you really need to go to the store, or can you send your teenager?  Look at your to-do list and see who could take over some of your low-priority tasks. Maybe it’s time to teach others in your household to do some laundry, or to allow your assistant to help you with your work email. You don’t have to do it all.

Analyze how you’re doing.

At the end of each month, take 10 minutes to look back and see how well you managed your time. You’ll see where you have improved and where you still need help. Adjust accordingly.

Did you find these stress and time management tips effective? Is this a topic you’re interested in hearing about in the future?