Balancing work and life

Systems to balance work and life

With today’s advanced technology there are more options to work from virtually anywhere at anytime. With access to the internet on something as small and portable as a cell phone, it is very easy to take work with you. While there are so many opportunities afforded us, ranging from working remotely to being able to contact clients while running errands, the lines between business and home have become more blurry than ever. It is exceedingly easy to let business consume your life.

Although it is important to provide a living, and rewarding to do well in your job, life’s biggest rewards and successes are not found in the workplace. At the end of your life you do not want to look back and only see a list of career accomplishments. You want to see accomplishments in all areas of your life: your family, your friends, your faith, your community, your career, and yourself. The goals you have achieved will largely reflect the time that was spent on them, which is why balancing work and life is so important. Once you set up a system to manage your workflow you will not only improve your business, but you will also improve your life. Being well-rested and well balanced have a direct impact on productive outcomes.  Here are three tips to help balance your work and your lifestyle.

WorkLifeBalance

Identify your ongoing tasks. What are those things you do repetitively every day, week, or month? Pay attention to how long you spend doing each of these tasks, including your personal activities. Next, group similar duties together, such as errands or contacting. After identifying which are necessary and which tasks you find rewarding, decide if there are any tasks you can cut or delegate. Identify tasks you may be taking on out of a misguided sense of obligation or guilt. If you are doing tasks that are someone else’s responsibility- give it back! Don’t spend your time filing documents that the secretary can file, or re-cleaning your children’s chores that are not done right. Finally, you will want to streamline all of the assignments that you can. Some ideas to help tasks go faster and run smoother are:

Assign tasks a time by which you will have completed them by. Some tasks easily fill the whole day if you let them.

Use dull repetitive tasks as a break between more intense jobs. A 15 minute spurt of data entry may be a breath of fresh air after drafting the final document your boss wants. You can unwind while doing something productive yet unchallenging, and save yourself from saving up two hours of data entry to be done at the end of the week.

Know what times of the day you are thinking the clearest and the most creative, and what time of day you are in a slump. Spend that creative energy on your most important tasks and use your slump time for the dull repetitive jobs.Identify chores that you can combine with other tasks that will not take away from either job. For example, can you return phone calls while doing the dishes? Or do you find yourself pausing to talk? It will actually take longer to complete each task if your mind has to jump back and forth between the two. Only combined duties that save you time or energy.

Take a short break, or switch to a completely different and very fulfilling undertaking, when you finish something that was overwhelming you.

Find a way to manage those ongoing tasks as well as new projects that may arise. Whether it’s a to do list or a task management software, use the tool that fits you best to make sure that the things you need to do regularly are getting done so that your business is moving forward. Decide what is the best way to organize your tasks and make sure you have it available throughout the day. Next, prioritize. You already have a long list of tasks, prioritize it by what is the most important through the least important. Now you need to make a schedule for your day. There will always be items that have to be done at specific times, so sort those items into their proper times first. Then put the items of highest priority in the times you have identified you are at your best. The most important tasks should get done first, always before the unimportant tasks.

As you make your schedule consider limiting your work time- how much time does it take to really accomplish these tasks? Assign each task its own time, and then adjust it later as needed. Be sure that you are keeping up on small daily duties, instead of letting them pile up for the end of the week, month, or term. By scheduling tasks efficiently you will be able to be flexible when big tasks suddenly bombard you, because you know you are caught up on all of the smaller tasks. At the start of each day go over your system and make sure your three most important tasks of that day are given top priority.

Once you have your schedule- stick to it! When you are working on that top priority item, don’t get distracted by email. Be where you are, doing what you should be doing. When you are at work, focus on your work. When you are at home, make sure you are not just physically there- but mentally and emotionally as well. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time.  Schedule your work time around those you care about. If your spouse has to work on Saturdays- figure out your system so you can get as much work done as possible while they are also working, and therefore free up more time when you can both be together. You may need to leave the laptop at work so you are not tempted to be working at home during your ‘off time’. You may even need to turn your phone off during family dinner (yes, there is an off button!)

Schedule personal time into your system. You are a multifaceted individual and there is a lot more to you than just work. Too much business can drive a person down and create stress and eventually burnout. You become your best self when you set boundaries and schedule in time to relax and renew yourself.  Realize that you do yourself, your employees, your clients, and your family a dis-service by not taking care of yourself. Make it a priority and others will honor that. Schedule time in each day for physical exercise, plenty of sleep and time to eat a healthy diet. You need to nurture yourself so you can be the optimal you for your work as well as the important people in your life. Also, set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy. If you do not have any goals outside of work, now is a good time to think of a few. Start a new exciting hobby. Is there something that you always wanted to learn? To try? To make? To eat? To see? Do it! Make some goals relating to your relationships, your health, your spirituality, your community, and start working on the next step to realizing each goal.

As John F. Kennedy once said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The beautiful and amazing successes you have to look back on in your life will not be things that happened by chance, but dreams that you made come true by incorporating them into your life day by day and making them happen. Develop a system today to balance your work and your personal life so that you have adequate time for both.

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