5 Tips for Improving Work Life Balance

A good work ethic is not only important, it’s vital. Always doing your best and having a positive, proactive attitude will take you far in the workplace, and nothing reinforces a healthy sense of self-worth like a job well done. But with smartphones facilitating around-the-clock accessibility, office hours are starting to extend well past the traditional nine to five, and finding work-life balance is becoming more difficult.

While putting in extra hours here and there is inevitable, devoting too much time to work can lead to exhaustion, reduced productivity and compromised job performance. It can also lead to feelings of resentment and neglect on the parts of our families and those closest to us. These five tips can help you strike a balance between your work and your personal life – no matter how busy you are!

Prioritize

There are only so many hours in a day. To ensure you have enough time outside of work for yourself, your family and your friends, try creating a to-do list that includes recreational activities as well as work-related tasks. Start by listing everything you want to do on a given day, from professional obligations like answering emails and meeting deadlines to personal goals like reading a book or taking your kids to the park.

Then go through your list and number each item by order of importance. While it may be difficult to resist putting all your professional obligations first, commit to including at least one personal goal in your top five for the day. It may seem counterintuitive or even irresponsible, but learning to identify what’s really important to you is crucial for achieving a sense of balance between work and play.

Schedule Time Off

While prioritizing is one thing, following through is another. To avoid pushing aside your personal needs every time your boss emails you, schedule downtime and recreational activities in your calendar the way you would a meeting, appointment or deadline. By blocking out that time in your agenda, you’ll be more likely to honor these commitments to yourself, your friends or your family. Just remember to follow through, and treat your personal calendar events as you would any work-related or obligatory event.

Just Say No

It’s human to want to please everybody and say yes to every request that comes your way. But you need to be realistic and honest about your availability and time restrictions. The next time someone asks if you can jump on a last-minute project, take some time to consider your current workload – not to mention your standing commitments to family, friends and yourself. Will saying yes stress you out and compromise your ability to complete what’s already on your plate? If so, you might want to muster up the courage to just say no!

Exercise

When work gets hectic, exercise is usually one for the first things to be sacrificed – especially when you have young children at home. While it may seem responsible and even necessary to forgo your workouts, yoga or Pilates classes in the face of overwhelming work or parental obligations, you’re actually doing your body and your mind a tremendous disservice by skipping out on exercise.

Not only does physical activity stave off a host of medical ailments ranging from heart disease to high blood pressure, it releases endorphins that can lower stress, improve your mood and even boost your productivity. So make an effort to improve work-life balance, and set aside at least three or four times a week to exercise. Your body, your family, and even your boss will thank you!

Unplug

We all love technology and social media, but it can be addictive. If you’re not careful, you can spend hours liking, sharing and responding to posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Time spent online is time that could otherwise be spent unwinding or recharging by yourself – or with family and friends. The same goes for emails. Whether work-related or not, responding to emails requires time, energy and focus that can lead to stress and even exhaustion.

Also, being constantly connected sends the message that we are always available and can easily be reached at all times. It may be difficult at first, but try powering down your mobile devices as soon as you come home from work. On weekends, challenge yourself to unplug for an entire day. After the initial discomfort wears off, you won’t believe how much more relaxed you’ll be – or how much closer you’ll feel to those around you.

Working hard is a good thing, but working yourself to the bone is not – especially when you have a family. Not only will these tips improve your work-life balance, but they’ll likely improve your efficiency and productivity as well!

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