Achieving work-life balance may seem like an impossible task, but we compiled 13 expert-approved tips to ensure you live your best life without burning out.
1. Balance Yourself
We’re most productive when we incorporate a balanced schedule into our work routine. That means taking a break every so often to re-energize. According to one University of Toronto study, the perfect formula for most productivity is working 52 minutes at a time with 17-minute breaks in between. The most important part is sticking to the routine and establishing a schedule that works for you. You may choose to take a walk or enjoy the break with a cup of coffee or tea.
Alisha Carlson, who provides fitness, nutrition and mindset coaching for women, points out it’s essential to “identify what counts as ‘work’ and what doesn’t. For many entrepreneurs and young professionals, it can be easy to tell yourself you’re not working when you are and that you’re working when in, fact, you’re not.”
2. Stop Working Late
It won’t make you happier or more productive. You will always have more work to do, and unless you’re on a rigorous deadline for a presentation or a critical deliverable, don’t stay behind for everyday work. If a project is done, don’t spend hours going over it to perfect it. It will get reiterations with other rounds of work if needed.
This isn’t to say you should settle for mediocrity. You should to the best job possible at all times, but don’t waste time for the sake of perfection and don’t spend extra hours in the office needlessly.
3. Make Things Easier for Yourself
Not everything needs to be done from scratch, and your priority should be to spend time with yourself and your loved ones. That might mean picking up take-out on the way home and setting the table so you can enjoy a meal together for a longer time. Put a little time into prettying up the setting with some candles and a bouquet. Make this time a celebration for yourself and your family.
If you have lots of little tasks that need to be taken care of at home, create a process for them, and off-load to someone else. Hire help and delegate tasks if you need to. Alexis Haselberger, a productivity and time management coach, suggests “creat[ing] a framework, checklist, template, etc. Avoid re-inventing the wheel each time you to something. This technique can be employed at work and home.”
4. Get a Hobby
Spend time cultivating a hobby outside of your work-related duties. While many choose to spend free time growing their professional skills and network, take the time to do something creative and relaxing. Whether it’s photography, writing, painting, or hiking, get a creative hobby that will use the other side of your brain.
Sirarpi Sahakyan, the chief editor of Self Development Secrets, suggests, “If you work in front of the computer the whole day, go to the gym, take yoga lessons, go dancing. After all, go for long walks, run in the mornings. Not earning more is not an excuse for not being physically active. Physical activities will help you keep a work-life balance, and you will be more motivated, energized.”
5. Take a Proper Lunch
Stop eating at your desk and give yourself a mental and emotional break. You’ll return to your desk more energized and ready for the productivity burst. You don’t need to go to a restaurant for this. Take your lunch to the park nearby if it’s nice out or have it at the cafeteria. Make this time about you and your life, not about your work. You can discover new music during this time or catch up on your favorite show on the phone. Or zen out and meditate! Work-life balance can happen in the middle of the day!
Katie Lear, licensed therapist, suggests that “taking advantage of your full lunch hour as well as vacation time can go a long way toward preventing burnout. I also recommend that people try to find time each day to get outside, even for a few minutes. A quick walk around the block or eating lunch on a park bench can boost energy and productivity for the rest of the day.”
6. Listen to Your Gut
Foram Sheth, the co-founder of Ama La Vida, which focuses on life, career, and leadership coaching, advises to “ask yourself, is this a temporary feeling and moment? Is this something I absolutely want for myself and my life, knowing that this is how I feel and will continue to feel until I accomplish this task?”
Lucy English, Ph.D., VP Research and Science at meQuilibrium, resonates with this attitude, pointing out that you need to “respect your rhythms” throughout the day. Work-life balance doesn’t just begin at the end of the day. It happens throughout.
“If you notice thoughts like ‘I can’t do this,'” says Lucy, “instead of trying to force it, step away. Our brains need recovery time, so listen to and honor the cues yours gives you. Respecting your rhythms during the workday will allow you to switch gears and wind down more easily after work.”
7. Ritualize a Transition
Megan Johnson, Ph.D., licensed psychologist practicing in Santa Monica, CA, and the writer behind Quincee Gideon, suggests ritualizing your transitions to mark a clear boundary between work and play.
“When you leave work, engage in a practice that signals to your mind and body that you are transitioning from work-mode to home life. This could be something like hitting the gym or attending a yoga class after work, but it could also be something as simple as listening to your favorite podcast on your commute or changing into comfy clothes as soon as you get home.”
8. Schedule the Fun
“Otherwise, you’ll constantly be working on a task that needs to be done before you can have fun,” says Jamie Novak productivity expert and author of “Keep This Toss That: The Practical Guide to Tidying Up.”
“And since the to-do list is never finished, you’ll never get to the more enjoyable tasks. Add a ‘fun task’ to your daily to-do list, like time spent on a hobby or exploring a new passion.”
9. Find Your Purpose
Yoram Baltinester, the founder of Decisive Action Workshops, points out that achieving work-life balance can’t start until you identify what’s important in your life. “Life satisfaction does not get reduced because of work and increased by giving more attention to non-work parts of your life. Life satisfaction (a.k.a. feeling fulfilled) starts with the identification of a life purpose.”
10. Get Off the Grid
While it may seem impossible to let go of your phone, it’s not long ago that people only had access to their phones during limited times. Going out to dinner was commonplace without a device at hand. Rebecca Ogle, licensed clinical social worker, and therapist, suggests turning off your phone notifications for a while.
“Make arrangements ahead of time with your work if needed. Let them know you won’t be available for calls or emails after a certain time of day, or between certain hours. Be specific, and emphasize that your work will be better if you have delineated time for yourself.”
Sabrina Wang of the Budding Optimist goes a step further by suggesting you set clear communication limits and automate them. “You can let people know that for all non-urgent matters, please do not email or call you after a certain time of the day, and then stick to that boundary by not responding to emails or phone calls that can be dealt with the next day. You can even set automatic replies in your emails or voicemail greetings to politely remind people of your boundaries.”
“People will learn to respect these boundaries over time. As the off-hour communications become less and less frequent, you’ll become less and less inclined to check your phone after work, and achieve a better work-life balance as a result.”
11. Practice Self Awareness
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, licensed clinical psychologist and wellness expert, suggests modeling your life on the premise of young minds looking up to you. What kind of role model would you want to be for your kids?
“If you are focused on work even when at home, your children will feel that work SHOULD be the priority in life. Ask yourself, ‘Am I the type of worker, partner, and father I want my children to model?'”
Terrance Hutchinson, certified corporate wellness consultant, suggests “rеѕресt[ing] уоur рrіvаtе time in thе same wау уоu respect уоur сlіеntѕ or co-workers time.” Stay aware of how you treat your day and the example you set for others throughout it. Pretend all eyes are on you and treat yourself as you would like others to treat themselves.
12. Schedule Non-negotiable Family Time
Yes, you should be spending time with them in the evenings if possible, but there’s only so much time in the day sometimes, and everyone has their own activities. Everyone else is trying to achieve their own work-life balance, after all. Make it a priority to schedule one or two times a week where you and your partner or another family member focus only on you, suggests Kapil Gupta, a transformational life coach.
“If you have a family or if you are in a relationship, then set up a regular time with your partner (1-2 times a week) where you spend time together without work getting in between you. Make it happen, No Matter What!”
13. Micro-dose On Self-care
You’ll have moments in your day that seems like “dead time.” It could be waiting in line or for a bus, sitting in traffic, or waiting for the crossing light to change. Alex Phillips, the co-founder of Saint Belford, a planning and wellness journal, suggests using this time as an opportunity to “pause and take a few mindful breaths.”
Instead of getting lost in your thoughts or planning, take the time to yourself to meditate. “Remember, there is power in these micro-moments of self-care. They compound over time to create the balance you seek.”