At this time of year, to-do lists and calendars are long and full. Here’s how to make sure you maintain that important work-life balance
by Bethan Rees
In the run-up to the end of the year, you might find yourself sipping on an overwhelming cocktail of work and social commitments. But it’s important to maintain a work-life balance to ensure that your workload and deadlines are met and that you don’t burn out.
Here are four easy tips for that all-important balancing act.
Plan and schedule everything
Accounting for all activities in your calendar can help ease feelings of stress and balance work and personal life. In a Forbes council post, Brian Burkhart, CEO of US-based SquarePlanet Presentations & Strategy, is quoted: “I use my calendar to plan out every aspect of my life. Whether it’s the basics of getting a haircut or a routine dentist visit, or a meeting with the CEO of a new prospect, I make sure it’s on the calendar.”
Block out time in your diary for important personal events and they will then occur, writes Sujan Patel in an article for Entrepreneur. “It can be tough to remember in the middle of a stressful business moment, but they’re just as important as any meeting,” he writes.
Using a calendar to block out time to focus on one specific task can also keep you on track to achieve a work-life balance, so you can feel satisfied that the task is done and can then enjoy your personal time. Patel writes: “If you work in an office, make sure your fellow workers know to leave you alone during this time. Shut the door to your office, turn down your phone’s ringer and turn off the email and text notifications that are constantly interrupting your work. Use your scheduled blocks for work that’s laser-focused on the tasks and projects that matter most for your business.” Of course, if your work doesn’t permit shutting off communication for an hour, just be mindful of prioritising emails so as not to interrupt your blocked-out time for working.
“Set aside ten to 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or the night before) to plan your tasks and activities for the day and evening ahead,” writes Tim Kehl in a post for IndustryWeek.
Create a routine
Having a regular pattern of behaviour can offer some support to a busy lifestyle, as feelings of familiarity can help a person feel safe and sustained. Create a morning and bedtime routine to help maintain a work-life balance when you’re especially busy, writes Melody Wilding in a post for The Muse. “Meditating or waking up a half-hour early to get work done before ever checking your email [will] begin your workday on a positive note, with a sense of accomplishment."
Wilding advises going to bed at roughly the same time every evening and before going to sleep, writing down your to-do list for tomorrow. “Engaging in a nighttime ritual signals to your body it’s time for bed and clearing your mind before bed also helps calm your nerves, which improves sleep.”
Time for quiet
Learning to switch off is vital for work-life balance. If you’re constantly checking your work emails and surrounding yourself with work projects, you will constantly be thinking about work. Wilding says setting aside some time for yourself is “essential to stay grounded”. By organising the time for a non-work related activity, such as scheduling to call a friend or to sit somewhere quietly without your phone or computer, this can clear your head, improve your mood and help you think more clearly when “things are moving fast”, says Wilding.
Giving career advice in a post on recruitment website reed.co.uk, writer Amber Rolfe explains that having a break to enjoy yourself at least once a day is beneficial. She writes: “Whether you go for dinner with friends or simply catch up on your latest Netflix series, it’ll do wonders for your wellbeing.”
Turn off technology
Although technology has its benefits, especially in the workplace, it has created an ‘always-on’ culture, where we can be contacted by anyone at any time of day through our smartphones and laptops. Patel reports that you should turn off your devices when taking a break – not just put them on silent mode. He also adds that this will help you while working, not just relaxing, as it can help focus your mind.
Responding to non-critical emails after hours instantly connects you back to work when you don’t necessarily need to be. In another article for The Muse, Rachel Bitte reports that by removing the pressure to answer non-critical emails outside of your work hours, you can address your work-life balance. “By responding to everything within minutes of receipt, you train everyone to see that you’re always on-call and immediately reachable. If you want work-life balance, it’s important to be able to sort between messages that are urgent and those that aren’t,” she reports. “The same respect should be shown to your colleagues; don’t send messages after hours unless it needs immediate attention (or you’ve specified that in your note). If you’re concerned that you’ll forget, type up the draft ahead of time and wait to send it until the next morning.”
How do you manage a work-life balance at particularly busy times of the year? Leave your comments below.
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