No matter how you slice it, life is hard. It’s possible, though, that maintaining a work-life balance is even harder. For many of us, balancing the time we spend at the office with the time we spend on ourselves, and/or being with our friends and families is extremely difficult. We want to be a successful person in our professional life, but we also want to take the necessary time to be just… us.
It feels like second nature to get caught up in our work routines and push personal needs and obligations off. However, it’s so important for our sanity that we have time outside of the office to clear our heads, relax, and even have some fun. Yes, fun. Crazy — I know.
The best way to find balance is to be honest with ourselves about where our priorities lie, and from there determine how to bring these priorities to life. We only have so much time in a day, so let’s figure out a way to make the most of it.
Here are seven surprising ways we can get ourselves to disconnect from work just a bit, while also maintaining our dedication to the office and our careers. We can't fully have it all, but we can absolutely try.
1. Join An Adult's Recreational Sports Team
If you even have just the slightest dash of athleticism, joining one an adult recreational sports team can be a blessing in disguise for your work-life balance. These teams are perfect because they’re not a huge, overwhelming commitment, yet they still encourage you to get out of the office at a reasonable time. Games are scheduled for certain evening times, so on game day, you’ll be extra focused on your tasks at hand so that you can be ready to leave work in time to make it to the field.
These teams have many social benefits, too. They offer a perfect opportunity to meet new friends, significant others or simply offer a means of getting out for a drink with a group on occasion. Also, participating in these team sports might spark a competitive drive in you that could translate really well to your work, if used in the right way. Overall, it’s a win-win.
2. Make Date Night A Priority
Whether you’re married, in a relationship, happily single, or looking for love, having a scheduled night out with someone charming will keep you excited all day at work, and motivated to get your assignments done on time. If you want to get home and quickly spruce up before the date, this will keep you on a schedule to leave the office at a normal time, and encourage office productivity to reign. It’s hard sometimes not to get sucked into staying at work really late burning the midnight oil, but if you have someone special waiting for you — well, it's not fair to stand anyone up now, is it? Ultimately, it’s an added incentive to manage your time well that day so you won’t have to cancel on your date.
3. Schedule An Appointment For “Me Time”
No matter what your day is filled with — running from meeting to meeting, on your feet tending to patients, or being figuratively tied to your desk typing emails — you’re used to having a day planner or calendar that’s filled to the brim with endless “to-dos” and appointments. So, try this on for size: Block out a slot (even if it’s just 30 minutes) at least twice a week that’s dedicated to you. Use this time to do activities that you enjoy. Read a book, take a bath, bake cookies — really anything that you find fun and relaxing. Of course, we never know what kind of things will come up last minute, but try your hardest to keep these scheduled “me time” appointments. Treat them like a meeting with your boss. There's no way you'd randomly cancel that.
4. Lock Away Your Work Phone After Hours
Dramatic? Yes. Helpful? Also yes. If your work provides you with a phone for business purposes, you’re in luck. It’s a perfect way to separate work from home life. The second you get back to your place at the end of the day, have a designated spot for your work phone. Turn it off, lock it up and don’t look back until the next morning. If you use your personal phone for work purposes as well, try simply logging out of your work email. It might feel strange and difficult at first, but your sanity and, ultimately your overall tendency to have work burnout, will thank you later. And, it lets you fully focus on your personal obligations without distraction.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand this tactic does not work for all professions, but if you think you can swing it it’s at least worth a try :)
5. Make Exercise A Must
You may be asking, “How is cutting out a time in my already hectic day to exercise possibly going to make things any less crazy?” But, trust me, it will.
One of the great benefits of exercise is that it boosts your energy level, according to Everyday Health. It also improves your ability to concentrate, according to health writer Matthew Lee for Livestrong. So, why not try waking up an hour earlier than usual, and going for a run outside? Not only will you be filling your lungs with crisp, fresh air to get your blood flowing, you’ll also be reaping the benefits of exercising. Not to mention, you’ll get some otherwise un-utilized time to clear your head and focus on what things you’d like to accomplish that day.
6. Don’t Open Social Media At Work
Ever wonder why your colleague who has the very same position as you always seems to get out of the office earlier every night? Sometimes — yes — it may be because this co-worker isn’t as hard working or dedicated to the job as you are. But, sometimes, it’s just that this person remained completely on-task all day, and their work is done by a reasonable hour.
Stop and ask yourself how many times you've used social media at the office that day. Was it a lot? Then, try cutting it out completely while at work. Log off your accounts on your computer and on your phone, and hone in only on your tasks for the day. It’s possible you’ll find yourself leaving before you co-worker, and you’ll be so much happier to have the rest of the day to yourself. Plus, if social media is that important to you, you can check it freely and worry-free during after work hours.
7. Stop Pressuring Yourself At Every Turn
At the end of the day, we’re only human — we can’t do it all. So, stop pressuring yourself to be there for everything. At a certain point, you’ll have to find a trade-off somewhere, and you can’t beat yourself up about it. Rather, figure out what you priority is, and how you can still be there for the secondary things. With a positive attitude, before you know it you'll be able to block out times for all the right work and life moments.
While we can't always make either work or life a full priority, there are plenty of ways in which we can balance our time between the two effectively. By using some of these simple tactics, we can easily ensure we're keeping ourselves both happy and successful.