The benefits of a healthy work-life balance are huge. When everything’s in order, you can feel happier, healthier and more productive. But how do you achieve that balance?
With these work-life balance tips, of course!
Work-life balance tips
A healthy work-life balance doesn’t just land in your lap. You need to work at it to make sure that everything is just right. Even then, a new project or a demanding client can tip the balance – so be sure to revisit these tips regularly to ensure that you continue to benefit.
Right, let’s get started!
1. Know your circadian rhythm
Each of us has a natural, in-built circadian rhythm. It repeats roughly every 24-hours and regulates when we feel sleepy, how fast our reactions are, when we’re most alert, when our best coordination is and much more.
Working in harmony with your personal circadian rhythm allows you to be at your most effective. If you feel most alert at 6 am, that’s the time to focus on key work tasks. If you’re a night owl who feels most focused at 11 pm, make that the time that you work on your most important tasks.
One of the joys of working for yourself is the ability to regulate your own working hours, so make sure that you do just that. You’ll be happier for it!
2. Stick to your working hours
Once you know when you’re at your best, stick to that routine as much as you can. Having a clear differentiation between work time and personal time is key to achieving the right work-life balance.
Yes, projects will come up that mean you have to work extra hours sometimes – that’s part of working for yourself. Just make sure that you rebalance things as soon as possible.
3. Establish email-free time – if it suits you
This is a concept that really divides people. For some, shutting off access to email for a set period each day provides the chance to feel free and focus on other things. If that’s you, then set yourself a daily time period when you leave your phone alone. And if you can’t leave it alone, set it to Do Not Disturb!
For others, being without email leads to a heightened sense of tension or anxiety. Clearly, this isn’t a helpful way to establish a healthier work-life balance. If an email ban raises your stress level, don’t implement one! After all, a healthy work-life balance is about what works for you personally.
4. Ditch the caffeine
Another controversial tip, perhaps, but certainly a valid one. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. It can make you more alert and focused and has a range of health benefits when consumed in moderation, from lowering the risk of oral cancer to reducing the chance of stroke.
On the negative side, caffeine can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms, significantly disrupt sleep patterns, trigger chronic daily headaches and lead to dizziness, jitters and more.
If you’re prone to nervousness in any way or don’t sleep well, then ditching caffeine could do wonders for your work-life balance. If the thought of being without it fills you with horror, try to drink coffee in the mornings only and see if that helps!
5. Write lists
Whether you prefer a pretty notepad and pen or the latest app, lists can be a great way to help organise both your personal and your professional life. Nothing clarifies the day’s priorities quite like a To Do List!
Writing a list is also a really quick way to see whether your goals for the day are realistic. If there are more things on your list than you can achieve, you’re likely to have a stressful day. Revise your list to reprioritise and rebalance. Your work-life balance will benefit as a result.
6. Set clear goals – and stick to them
As well as identifying your daily priorities, set some medium- and long-term goals. Doing so will help you to focus and achieve what you need to – provided you stick to them!
Sticking to your goals is in your hands alone. Your decisions will affect whether or not your actions contribute to achieving your goals. You have it in your power to avoid mission creep and stay focused. So make sure you do!
7. Learn to say ‘no’
Part of sticking to your goals is learning to say ‘no.’ It’s a short but powerful word. Most two-year-olds are highly aware of the power that saying ‘no’ wields, but we seem to forget this as we grow up and enter the world of work.
Saying ‘no’ in a firm, polite way can contribute hugely to a healthier work-life balance. Realistically, you can’t say it all the time (at least, not if you want to keep your customers), but learning when it’s ok to turn down a project or push back a deadline is an important way to cut back on sources of stress.
8. Prioritise your personal and family time
You set goals at work and wouldn’t dream of missing a deadline. But do you do the same when it comes to prioritising yourself and your family? If not, then you’re putting the needs of your customers above those of your loved ones – including yourself.
If you want to achieve something in your personal life, set the time aside to do it and make sure you do. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a date night with your partner, reading a book, playing a game with the kids or a long-term goal to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Only you can ensure it happens. So do.
9. Factor in time for admin
Life admin takes time. Fact.
Whether it’s paying the household bills, issuing business invoices or signing school permission slips, there’s always plenty to do. Factoring time into your day to deal with admin tasks means that you can focus on the tasks properly and get them done without any undue stress.
10. Make your peace with ‘good enough’
Another really key work-life balance tip is understanding when perfection doesn’t matter. Yes, some tasks need to be completed perfectly, but not all of them do. If you leave the dishes to drain instead of drying them and putting them away, they’ll still end up dry. Identify areas in your life where ‘good enough’ will suffice and give yourself a break!
11. Identify your strengths – and weaknesses
What are you great at? And, just as importantly, what do you suck at? Once you know what you do well (and what you don’t), you can ensure that both your working life and your personal life give you the chance to play to your strengths. You can also put plans in place to mitigate any weaknesses.
Focusing on the things that you do well will allow you to feel a greater sense of satisfaction and achieve more, both personally and professionally.
12. Clear your desk
Is your workspace a cluttered mess, featuring countless scribbled notes, old coffee cups and stacks of paperwork that you’ve not found time to file? If so, before you do anything else today, declutter. Having a clear desk and a zen-like atmosphere will do wonders for how you feel.
13. Make exercise a part of your routine
If you’re serious about achieving a healthy work-life balance, this is non-negotiable. Exercise helps to keep you physically and mentally fit. It boosts happiness and can help you to stay alert and focused. It can also help you to sleep better at night.
Is exercise something you tend to put off? If so, do it first thing in the morning. Roll out of bed and go for a run before hitting the shower. Chances are you’ll have done half your run before you even realise you’re awake!
If you’re not a morning person, build a lunchtime swim or an after-work game of your favourite sport into your routine. It doesn’t matter what you do – what matters is that it’s a regular part of your routine that becomes such an ingrained habit you wouldn’t dream of skipping it.
14. Focus on mental health as much as physical health
Some 25% of the UK population experiences mental health issues in any given year. But you don’t have to wait until you’re on the brink before taking action to care for your mental health. That would be like refusing to exercise until you’re obese.
Focusing on your mental wellbeing could mean anything from daily meditation sessions (there are some great meditation apps out there) to placing a sun lamp on your desk. Regular ‘me time’ is important too. What you do with that time is entirely up to you – just make sure you have it if you want a healthy work-life balance!
15. Take breaks
Regular breaks help you stay motivated. Staying motivated helps you achieve your goals. Achieving your goals makes you happy. It’s a pretty simple path to happiness, when you think about it!
From quick breaks during the working day to regular holidays, it’s important to step away from the daily grind and swap it for something different. It’s another non-negotiable if you want a healthier work-life balance.
16. Work smarter, not harder
Have you read The 4-hour Work Week? If not, it’s time to do so. The book outlines ways in which you can use your time better in order to become more productive and enjoy more down time.
It’s all about working smarter. If you earn £100 per hour doing client work, but spend two hours per day dealing with emails and business admin at a rate of £0 per hour, why not employ a virtual assistant to help you? Even if they only deal with an hour of your admin, at a cost of (say) £25, that’s an extra hour each day that you can spend on client work – or spend enjoying a bit of me time. Or both.
Either way, working smarter rather than harder can have a major impact on your work-life balance – and your finances!
17. Keep a gratitude diary
This is a really simple work-life balance tip to implement. A gratitude diary is a precisely what it sounds like – a daily record of things you are grateful for. It can help to focus the mind on the positive aspects of your life and also to help you prioritise those things.
18. Identify time-wasters
From tasks to people, we all have time-wasters in our lives. If you can cut out the jobs that drain your time and reduce your interactions with the people who do the same, you’ll suddenly find yourself with more time available. You can then devote that time to your work, yourself, your family or whatever else you need in order to achieve the right work-life balance.
Naps can help to restore equilibrium in a way that little else can. They can make us more productive (when timed well!) and help to promote health and happiness. It’s not about building a regular nap into your routine (though feel free, if that works for you!) but about giving yourself permission to enjoy forty winks should the need arise.
20. Build social time in your diary
Being a solopreneur can be a lonesome business. Build in catchups with other entrepreneurial types to stay connected and help to balance your working life with social interaction.
21. Do what you love
Sometimes, we have to put practicality over following our passion. However, there’s always time to focus on doing what you love. If you can’t do it fulltime, at least find a side-gig that allows you to pursue your passion. You’ll be happier as a result.
Start achieving a healthy work-life balance today
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is entirely in your hands. Why not implement one of these work-life balance tips every day for the next three weeks to discover how life-changing small tweaks to your routine and your approach can be? We think you’ll be glad you did.