As a Naturopathic Doctor, patients often come into my office looking for tips to enhance their work-life balance. According to the Government of Canada, work-life balance is a self-defined, self-determined state of well-being which allows people the ability to effectively manage multiple responsibilities at home, at work and in the community. To get a head start on the New Year, I have listed some helpful tips for you to try out to attain that much-needed balance:
1) Prioritize. Simplify your schedule and prioritize important tasks. By focusing on completing the most important tasks, this will increase the impact of the time you spend working and decrease the time you need to work to get those big ticket items on your agenda out of the way. Understand that everything worth having requires a time commitment, so focus on tasks/relationships/work/community issues that matter the most to you. By doing so, you begin to create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. If you find yourself getting side-tracked, write down or print off your prioritized list and keep it in a visible area as a constant reminder.
2) Plan. Plan what you are going to do each day, pick the top three things you need or want to accomplish and get those done first. Plan to take a day off and stick with it. Plan to make time to sit down with your family during meal times. Plan your weekly menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks so you only need to make one trip to the grocery store during a hectic week. It is amazing how preparing your lunch and snacks for yourself and the kids the night before can contribute to decreasing the stress of the usual early morning scramble. Feel extra ambitious some nights of the week? Prep hearty vegetables for meals during the week, julienning your carrots, celery, the cutting the ends off your green beans, pulling apart the romaine leaves in advance for your salad the next day so they are ready to be washed, cooked and consumed. Plan to schedule time for leisure and exercise, like you do work.
3) Declutter. Declutter your home, car, bedroom, family room, computer and workspace. Cleaning up your environmental disarray will also help you “clean up” mental clutter. You also get to enjoy the added benefits of having an anesthetically-pleasing space, a space that is easier to navigate and easier to clean. It reduces unproductive time reshuffling, sorting and clearing away papers that can easily accumulate into towers, and minimizes you scrambling around, having all your family members look for misplaced keys, phones, meeting notes, bills etc.
4) Set realistic goals and limits. If you know that a given task/commitment takes 8 hours, don’t schedule it into a 3 hour window. Give yourself the 8 hours plus some additional time to account for the unexpected. Also learn to say ‘no’ to a request that is not an identified priority. This can be uncomfortable for people-pleasers, but remember that it is necessary.
5) Accept that the work day ends when you leave the office. Work while you are at work, and don’t work when you are not. After you leave the office, turn off your work mobile. Check emails regarding work while at work. At the end of the work day, you have devoted your fair share of time to your job and in order to maintain balance, you owe it to yourself and your family to devote time to them. Don’t fall prey to the blur between work and life!