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It’s a common trend these days to not only work for eight hours during the day, but then to bring work home for the night as well. If they don’t physically bring paper work home, they are checking their work emails all night long. Lately, even when the 9-to-5ers strictly “work” from 9:00PM to 5:00PM, their mind is racing about what needs to be done the next day.
“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They are afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.
Here are five ways to build a better balance between work and your free time:
1. Schedule downtime into your week
In order to create an organized work and life style, it’s important to keep a calendar or schedule. And don’t just make one – follow it! Block out time each and every day for something non-work related.
“It helps to be proactive about scheduling,” said productivity expert and author Laura Stack. “When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls’ night out on the calendar for one month later.” Stack also plans activities with her family every Sunday afternoon. “We do this because if there’s nothing on the schedule, time tends to get frittered away and the weekend may end without us spending quality time together.”
For all of those necessary tasks that simply just take up time, consider using other sources. Can you order your groceries online instead of spending an hour going to the store? Can you pay your neighbor five bucks to mow your lawn? These low cost purchases are easily worth the amount of time you’ll get back.
Stack also recommends exchanging tasks with friends. If you like to cook, you could prepare and freeze a couple of meals and give them to a friend in exchange for something you may not consider appealing.
3. Get out of that seat
The majority of employees struggling with a work-life balance are in the corporate world – in the world where you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. It’s time to get moving! Spend an hour a day doing some sort of physical activity. Don’t worry – I’m not saying you have to bust out a p90x workout. It can be as simple as going on a walk during your lunch break or taking a slow bike ride. Any sort of exercise helps to boost your energy level and ability to concentrate.
It doesn’t take a ton of effort to make changes to your work-life balance. Take 15 minutes a day for relaxation. This is obviously different for everyone, but some examples include: taking a bath, reading a book, going for a walk, or listening to music. Take some time to recharge your batteries. It will make you feel better instantly.
5. Lower your expectations of yourself
No one can do it all. Late work nights happen. The key is making sure you don’t let that ruin the rest of your week. Be thankful you have a job and be proud of the work you’re doing. Just think – that late-night work will ultimately go towards something great. Once it does, you can take a load off and celebrate your success.
James Reinhart, Co-founder of thredup.com, said “When I’m home enjoying time with family, I sometimes get the unsettling feeling that I should be working. The opposite is also true – when I’m at work, I feel like should be spending that time with family. Don’t let yourself get trapped in this “dammed if you do, damned if you don’t” limbo. Instead, I’ve learned to immediately jot down a list of things I think I should be doing instead of what I’m currently doing. Then I ask myself if I can accomplish those tasks later or if they have to be done now. Try it; you’ll find the quick exercise helps clear your mind to make better choices with your time. You’re also likely to prioritize family activities because those activities have firm timetables. After all, you can’t postpone “dinner with the kids” until 10 p.m. or the next morning.”
These are just five recommendations for improving your work-life balance. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating a more organized way of splitting your free time and office time. If you take anything away from this post, remember this – be proud of both your work and your personal life and don’t worry about one when you’re doing the other. Follow this bit of advice and you’ll be heading towards a stress-free world in no time.
This is a guest post written by Natalie Pike, Inbound Marketing Coordinator at Hireology