I have always been — and are often still guilty of being — a workaholic. The tendency to work all the time is fading though as I realize the advantages of reaching a work-life balance that feels satisfying. You may see top business people and celebrities discuss how they can do it and have it all, but most of us can see that money tends to solve those imbalances pretty easily. My tips for reaching this balance don’t involve nannies or a team of handlers. If anything, it’s simply about making and sticking to some life changes based on putting it all in perspective:
- You don’t want to miss your kids growing up or not be part of their memories.
- You want to live longer rather than go to an early grave.
- You deserve to enjoy life just like all the people you are working for.
It’s simple and very true, but it has taken me a long time to really believe it. Here’s what I did to consciously to recalibrate and strike a balance:
- Create a schedule many months ahead that I use to fill in important school and social events I want to go to, including purposely scheduling time with friends and family. Putting it on the calendar in advance as much as possible allows me to control my workflow to satisfy both parts of my life. For example, I know that I’m taking a long trip this summer so a few months in advance I will alert my clients so I can double up on the work so they will never know I was even gone. From my kids’ sporting activities to help with homework, carving out this time provides relaxation and quality time that is priceless.
- Automate as much as possible. Technology has made it possible to wear the Wonder Woman cape well. From automatic bill pay for just about every expense to online shopping and delivery, the majority of my household tasks are taken care of, saving me a lot of time to use for other things.
- Put exercise first. It comes before work even because I know it is the best medicine for writer’s block or muted productivity. After a good round of cardio, I feel energized and probably get nearly twice as much done than if I had skipped out on it. There’s no way that waiting until the end of my day to exercise will ever happen because by then I’ve done it all and could think of every excuse in the book not to go hang out with my treadmill.
- Insist on sleep. There’s no way I stay up anymore until everyone else is in bed. That sleep is like gold and a good night of it buys me greater alertness and productivity to get more done within the time I have.
- Walk away from technology. There’s a lot to be said for how much technology is helping me get that balance but it is also is a time waster. Social media cannot replace time with the kids, family, or friends in person. Well it may sound corny to others, family game night, a walk with the dog, or a good book offers a great way to stay in touch with what life is really about.
- Ask for help and delegate. This is one of the hardest things for me because I don’t like admitting that I can’t do it all — and do it well. The kids are old enough to help out with chores, which lightens my load and teaches them responsibility. They also get more time with me that way (and the allowance sweetens the deal).
Besides these personal tips, it has also helped me to read other articles about how to get that balance and keep it. This article from the Due.com blog directed at freelancers and how to balance it all really hit home and maybe it will help you, too!