The Best Way to Achieve Work-life Balance

By Michael Galvan | 05/02/2016

According to the OECD, the United States is ranked #29th among advanced nations for work-life balance.[1]While housing and salaries are higher than other countries, where Americans seem to struggle is in managing our commitments between our work and personal time.

Letting work consume your life can be harmful to your health and family. The constant pull between professional life and personal life is stressful. The American Institute of Stress showed that nearly 25% of all workers felt “often or very often burned out or stressed by their work.” [2] Thankfully, there are ways to excel at work without sacrificing your personal life.

Step #1: Know What You Want

Life is all about choices. We only get so much time to devote to all our various activities. That means you have to decide what is important to you and what is not. Before you can achieve an ideal work-life balance, you need to know what things are most important to you.

Make a list of the four or five most important things in your life. Physically write the list out and place it somewhere that you will see it frequently. This will help remind you of what really matters when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Step #2: Build Personal Time into Your Schedule

Instead of completely structuring your personal life around your career, create blocks of time on your calendar for your family, interests, etc. Treat those blocks like they are an unmovable part of your work schedule.

Step #3: Optimize Your Time Management Skills

This is an area where you can really see great returns. Look at your existing way of doing things and see if you can spot inefficiencies. Here are a few good ways to improve your daily life:

  • Automate everything you can! There is no end to the on-demand services available now. There are services that pick up your laundry, drop off groceries, perform small errands, and everything in-between. See what you can afford and let somebody else take care of the details that don’t add value to your life. Time is invaluable.
  • Get up earlier. Getting up a few hours before work gives you time to get settled and work on other things before you day officially starts.

Step #4: Cut Out Anything That Doesn’t Add Meaning to your Life

You can schedule, automate, optimize and do a whole bunch of other stuff to your life, but eventually you will have to make some cuts. As famed architect Hans Hofmann once said: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

Step #5: Work Smart

One of the best ways to make sure you get home on time is to work smarter while you are at work. If you get in early, and avoid procrastinating you may find that you are done with all your responsibilities more quickly and ahead of schedule when you leave the office.

Step #6: Set Boundaries

It’s ok if you don’t respond to every personal email immediately! Most people are happy as long as their message is responded to within 24-48 hours. Constantly checking your phone when you’re at home to reply to company emails is generally not necessary. Set standards about how you will separate your home and work life.

 

Finding a good work-life balance is difficult. Many people have highly demanding jobs and a jam-packed personal life. Follow the six steps above and you can start to find harmony between all the various parts of your life.