Tips to Achieve Work Life Balance

Work life balance is about managing your work commitments with career goals, and your responsibilities at home and the wider community. These tips for balancing work and family give you back your quality time with those that matter most.

work life balance

In an ideal world we would work 8 hours, have 8 hours of recreation, and the last 8 hours would be spent sleeping?

But how many of us live in the ideal world?

Instead, in the real world many people are working more than 12hrs every day, with little recreation time or time for sleep.

As a performance psychologist I get alot of people who come to me because their life is out of whack.

They are working late and bringing work home on the weekends.

They want to spend more time with their kids but the pressures of work are unrelenting.

Is Work Taking Over

In a 24/7 society it can be difficult to achieve balance. Cells, texts...work intrudes into outside life in a number of ways.

Download your work-life balance MP3 and start living the life you want.

They are doing the work of 2 or 3 people!

Do you feel that work is taking over?

Are you wanting to spend more time with family and friends?

The expectations and pressure to do more things in less time can mean that we are working long hours and our life can feel out of kilter.

This is counterproductive to high performance!

When our lives get out of whack we exhaust our minds and body.

This can be a big cause of stress and and lead to job burnout.

Here are tips to achieve work life balance.

Work life balance tip #1: Increase your effective time at work

Rather than thinking of the number of hours of work, think of the effective time your spend at work.

Many people spend a long time at work yet don't seem to accomplish their high impact activities.

Tracking Activities

Fill out a time management log or download free time tracking software and track your time for 5 days.

Make a goal to reduce time-wasters and for overcoming procrastination.

You'd be surprised how many activities we spend time on which are not essential to completing your high impact work.

Track your activities and the amount of time you spend on them. Watch out for some common traps.

Some of these include the constant use of email or blackberries. We've all been there, checking the email many times a day.

This can be distracting and pull you away from you most important priorities.

The consequence of this means you will spend more time at work and take away from time spent at home.

See these tips for email etiquette to become more efficient with email.

Work life balance tip #2: Set clear priorities

Make sure that you get through your top priorities before you do those tasks which are low priority but more fun.

Whatever priority system you use, whether it is the ABC method in the to do list, or the Pareto principle, make sure that you are clear on your high impact tasks.

Urgent versus Important

Do you have many balls in the air?

Is each of them demanding your attention?

If so, then you will need to determine what is important versus urgent.

The time management matrix triages your activities in terms of importance and urgency and enables you to decide how to schedule your time.

If you fall into the trap that everything is a priority then you will feel less control over your use of time as you jump from crisis to crisis putting out fires all the time.

People who feel their work life balance is out of whack report that they feel a lack of control. Get back into control and proactive with your time.

Stephen Covey talks about the 4 quadrants in which we can spend our time.


time management matrix

Work life balance tip #3: Have a plan

A characteristic of successful people is that they plan their work and then work their plan.

A plan allows you to review your progress and whether you are achieving your goals.

When developing your plan consider:

  • setting deadlines for projects.
  • focus on tasks that move you towards your long-term goals. These family goal setting tips can be useful to clarify whats important for your family.
  • If you want to gain more clarity on your career and the next steps to take then use these career goal setting strategies.

  • review your plan often and look for better ways of doing things. For example batching calls or batching emails at work, to online shopping at home can boost efficiency.

Balancing work and family can be hard but it is easier if you now how many hours you are spending in the different areas of your work and personal life and what you need to do to make a change.

Work life balance tip #4: Reduce your long working hours

If you are working 16 hours see if you can drop it down to 12 hours. If you are working 12 hours see if you can drop it to 9 hours.

By putting deadlines on the number of hours you spend at work you create a sense of urgency around you high impact activities.

Parkinson's law is the adage that:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Use Parkinson's Law to your advantage.

Make a list of your tasks, and divide them up by the amount of time it takes to complete them.

Then give yourself three quarters of that time to complete each task.

This creates a sense of urgency around your top priorities. Rather than wait for your partner to leave you or for your health to deteriorate due to incredibly long hours, create a sense of urgency around what is important to you and get it done with enough time to achieve work life balance.

Setting a deadline that is within your grasp motivates you to become more efficient, productive, and focused.

Work life balance tip #5: Focus on the family

The time that we spend with those that we love most should not be time in which we are guilty of the work we are sacrificing or filled with stress about Monday morning.

Focus on the family is about how you can spent more quality time with the people who matter most to you.

In a study conducted by Galinskey (1999): Ask the Children: what America’s children really think about working parents, parents and children consider being un-rushed and focused as the most important aspect of the time they spend together.

This highlights the importance of good family time management.

You could even use these tips for time management for teens.

Work life balance tip #6: Stay healthy

You wouldn't expect top performance from your car if you didn't give it the fuel that it needed.

Similarly, you can't expect top performance from yourself if you aren't adequately fueling your engine.

Look for effective ways to maximize the four pillars of health:

  1. Nutrition. Look to eat fruit and vegetables and avoid too much caffeine.
  2. Exercise. Exercise helps you to de-stress and use any pent-up tension that can arise from chronic stress.
  3. Relaxation. Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation, imagery, or yoga.
  4. Sleep Without adequate sleep it can be difficult to concentrate and focus throughout the day.

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