Tips For A Better Work-Life Balance

by Raven Ishak
Tired and sleepy young Caucasian woman working on laptop, from modern home office
miodrag ignjatovic/E+/Getty Images

The one thing that I wish my professors had taught me while I was in college was how to have a better work-life balance. Even though statistics and algebra are obviously very important, I wish Knowing How To Keep Sane After College 101 was part of the curriculum, to say the least. But, alas, I guess that's the point of being an adult — you have to figure this stuff out on your own. Unless someone out there has a walkthrough tutorial. Nobody? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I envy people who know how to balance their daily life. Between multiple jobs, my boyfriend, friends, family, and alone time, sometimes it seems like I really haven't been doing this whole adult thing correctly. If I slightly let go of one element, the seesaw of my life dramatically leans to one side, and everything falls apart. But I know that finding balance is possible. While focusing on what's important and not wasting time usually helps, there are other ways to make me feel more in control when it comes to my life. Essentially, I want to do well in my field without having to stress out 24/7 because I either feel too guilty or tired to do anything just for me. After much research, I've found a few tips on how to achieve balance and happiness in your life.

1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Even though your work load may not ever get lighter, there are still effective ways to make it less strenuous. By working smarter, you're allowing yourself to have more free time throughout the day. According to Time, which referenced Dan Pink’s Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself, there are a variety of ways to work smarter not harder. And while all of them are pretty great, a few tips have stuck out to me: Create a "to-don't" list and take the Sunday night test. By creating a "to-don't" list, you're essentially eliminating what you shouldn't be focusing on. The Sunday night test is to evaluate your well-being. If you feel that you're getting anxious Sunday night because you know that you have to go to work the next day, then you might want to re-evaluate what you're doing. But if you're actually excited about the next day instead of dreading it, then you might be heading in the right direction. Essentially, just listen to your gut, it'll help lead you to a better work-life balance.

2. Know Your Goals and Values

Once you start to analyze where you want to go in life and what's really important to you, you may be able to figure out what goals you should solely focus on. Take some time out of your day to plan where you want your life to go and what tasks you're going to do to get you there. By doing this, you'll stop wasting your time on meaningless stuff, and it may even give you more time throughout your day to focus on the important things. According to health website Daily Burn, Larissa Barber, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University, compared a work-life balance to money. "Know your values, set your goals in relation to those values, create a budget… and stick to your budget,” Barber said.

3. Let Go Of Perfectionism

This might be easier said than done, but if you're being obsessive with your work, you'll probably never get anything done. According to Forbes, executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, Ph.D., who wrote The Office Survival Guide, explained that perfectionism is easy to maintain when you're a child because you don't have a lot of responsibilities at a young age. But if that habit doesn't change when you're an adult, it can cause some serious consequences because it can become destructive if you're trying to balance life and work on such a perfect level. Even though life can be stressful, you never want to be so hard on yourself that you ultimately stop enjoying life. Having a balanced life may involve a bit of failure, too. And if you accept failure as a way to grow, then you might feel better about not being perfect all the time.

4. Change Your Habits And Stick To Them

If you feel your life is spinning out of control, then maybe it's time to change your daily habits. According to Entrepreneur, you should try to set boundaries so you can create a new routine that is about certainty and predictability. Try not to check your work emails when you're home and let your employees be aware of your new lifestyle and stick to it. When others notice that you're respecting your own personal boundaries, your friends and co-workers will have to do it, too.

5. Exercise And Mediate

By exercising and meditating, you're allowing yourself to recharge and refocus. This will also release endorphins into your body that'll make you happier. According to WebMD, psychologist Robert Brooks, Ph.D., co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, "Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert." Brooks continued, "And I've noticed that when I don't exercise because I'm trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don't feel as alert."

6. Create Downtime

To have a more balanced life, you'll have to force yourself to schedule a time to stop working. According to Greatist, research suggests that it's important to take breaks from work so your stress levels can be lowered, which may help you recover from the work week. No matter what you do, there will always be work to be done. Try to decide what's important and what isn't. When you start prioritizing your tasks, you may start to feel more in control of your life, which will hopefully reduce anxiety and stress.

When it comes to balancing your life, not every rule will work for every person's life style. Pick and choose what will work best for you and try to stick with it. Some days will be worse than others, but try to remember that having a work-life balance is never going to be perfect. Just take each day at a time, and try to set boundaries for yourself to achieve the life you want.

Images: miodrag ignjatovic/E+/Getty Images; Giphy