8 Tips for Achieving a Work/Life Balance (+ PRINTABLE!)

How would you characterize your work/life balance?  Is the scale leaning more to the work side than you’d like?  If so, it’s time to even things out, make a few changes, and get yourself on the path of having a fulfilling life outside of work! Today, I’m joining the B Bar for a Blog Linkup party and sharing my 8 tips for achieving work/life balance!

Scales tipped a little too far on the work side?  Read my 8 tips for how to achieve a work/life balance to fix that in a jiffy!

I am a STRONG believer in having a balance in work and life.  Personally and professionally, I am not impressed by folks that burn the midnight oil on a regular basis or fail to use their alloted vacation days.  There’s a misconception in our society that both of those indicate a stronger work ethic or a deeper dedication to the job.

I think that is a load of you-know-what!

In my job, I’m a manager.  I work in the corporate world at a technology company with a lot of really smart, really driven people.  I have three people that report to me and as their manager, I do not want them working nights or weekends on a regular basis (yes, sometimes a project that is on a tight deadline may require this a little, but it should not be the norm).  They won’t impress me as hard workers if they do either of these and you know why?  They’re better employees and team members if they have down time and a life outside of work!

So, when I saw that the ladies over at the the B Bar were hosting a linkup on this very topic, I knew I had to share my thoughts on the topic!

The B Bar's Blog Linkup party for April 2015 - talking all about how to achieve a work/life balance!

At the end of this post, not only will you find a free printable to download, but I’ll also provide links to all of the other awesome blogs that are sharing their thoughts on the same topic!  Fun, right?!

8 Tips for Achieving a Work/Life Balance

1 Set Goals 
A big part of achieving a work/life balance is being organized with your time.  Set goals for yourself, both personally and professionally, so that you are spending time on the things that are most important.  If you read my blog regularly, you know I’m a big goal setter and that’s for a reason! It helps me stay focused and achieve what I want to achieve.  But…it also allows me to plan my time better so I’m not wasting my time (see the next tip for on this!).

2 Learn time management skills 
Good time management skills will likely vary from person to person, but the goal is to stop wasting time when you are working so that it doesn’t spill over into your non-work time (and for your personal time, it’ll allow you to get more of the things you want to do done!).

For me, the best trick that keeps me focused is setting a timer and turning off all other distractions.  I do this routinely for blog writing, cleaning the house, etc.  For work, when I’m struggling to stay focused on a project, turning off the constant email notifications, setting my IM status to ‘Do Not Disturb’, and setting that timer, gets me honed in on the task at hand.  

Whether personal or professional…I inevitably get done faster and with more focus (i.e. better).  Getting good at this will help you finish your work day on time and leave your free time all to you!

I also make us of a planner (see tip #7 for some more deets!) and a daily planning sheet to organize my day and my time! 

Planning my day with my daily printable!  It allows me to stay on top of my to-do's, errands, important tasks, water, etc.!

Using my daily planner printable to stay on track

If you want a copy of this Daily Planner Page, be sure to stick with me to the end where you’ll be able to download your OWN copy!!

3 Have hobbies/passions outside of work 
Let me ask you a question…can you think of 3 hobbies that you enjoy outside of work right now?  If the answer is yes…good!  If your answer is no….then, you definitely need to work on this!

Finding things to enjoy outside of work will give you motivation to DO things outside of work!

If you have a job that you love and is also your passion, that is awesome! You’re living the dream!  But….I’m betting you’re working all the time because you love what you do so much.  

Here’s a quirky tip…indulging in hobbies and passions outside of your work will allow your brain to take a much needed break and allow for more productive work and better ideas when you return to your work tasks. 

4 Don’t check work email outside of work hours 
I get that some of you have jobs where this is a requirement, so I’m not directing this at you, because you don’t have a choice.  But for others…

…if you aren’t required to check messages when you’re off the clock…DON’T!

I pretty much have a policy that I will not check emails when I am taking a vacation day.  I don’t care if I’m sitting at home enjoying a me-day or out of town on vacation.  If I am taking my well-earned vacation day, I’m doing just that!  

The second you check in on email or messages, you are mentally sucked right back into work and you either start answering emails, or it’s then weighing on your mind.  With the exception of a few jobs, it’ll still be there when you return and it’ll be just fine.

5 Use your vacation days!! 
You’ve earned them, so use them!  I squeeze every last drop out of my vacation days because I’ve earned them and I have a right to take them (and my company doesn’t allow us to roll them over, so it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em).  

Because I love to travel, I am usually headed somewhere out of town when I take my days off, but sometimes…I take a day off just to hang out at home and relax and do my own thing.  

6 Just Say ‘No’ 
Your down time is a precious commodity, so you should guard it like the crown jewels!  That doesn’t mean being completely selfish with your time or never doing for others…of course not!  But, if you are in need of some ‘me-time’ (heck, you don’t even have to be ‘in need’ of it…if you just want some ‘me-time’), then have the confidence to say ‘no’ when asked to do something that you have no desire to do.  It’s okay!  I promise!  

Your time is just as important as their time!  And no…you do not have to provide an explanation for why you’re saying no.  Simply tell them, politely, that you have a prior commitment or have already made other plans.  Nobody has to know that your plans may involve a marathon of your favorite TV show, an afternoon of indulging in your favorite hobby, or time exploring your favorite, local museum!

7 Use tools around you to stay organized 
There are SO many tools that you can use to keep yourself organized.  Staying on top of where your time is spent and what needs to be done when will help you stay focused and on track.  I’m a bit of a planner freak, so I always have paper planner to corral my to-do lists and appointments.  But, I also like to make use of online apps for remembering things on the go or keep my random ideas and thoughts organized.

Here are a few of my faves (and they’re ALL free!)
  • TrapperTrapper helps to ‘trap’ your ideas and organize them into similar categories (I use this for blog thoughts, shopping lists, books to read, etc.).
  • PocketPocket allows you to store articles that you want to read later so you don’t have to either remember, or spend time trying to find where you found it!
  • IFTTTIFTTT allows you to set up ‘recipes’ to do something IF you do something else.  While this isn’t specifically a time saving example, I have one set up so I get an email if rain is in the forecast for tomorrow (since I don’t always check the forecast!).  There are TONS of time management options, blogging tools, etc., so if this one is new to you…take a peek and fall in love like the rest of us!

8 Outsource mundane tasks 
For all the ‘chores’ that you have to do that suck up your precious free time…OUTSOURCE them!  Things like getting groceries, cleaning your house, doing laundry, paying bills, etc.

How do you outsource these?  Here are a few ideas…
  • House Cleaning: If you can swing a cleaning person, then do it (stock up on those Groupons, ladies!)! Think of the time you’d save and with a clean house to boot!
  • Groceries: If you live in an area that delivers groceries, order online and have them delivered.  I first did this when I broke my foot a few years ago and couldn’t drive.  I ordered via Peapod and my groceries were delivered right to my door every single week.  I’m considering doing this again, to also allow me to stick to a budget and prevent the junk food that somehow finds its way into my cart when I am strolling through the aisles!
  • Paying Bills: Set up auto-payments for your regular bills so you don’t have to take the time to ‘pay the bills’.  Not only will your payments never be late, you don’t have to take the time to do it each month!

Yes, some of these may cost extra money, but think of it as buying yourself more free time!  Maybe you can’t swing all of it, so pick the one task you hate the most and hire someone to do that one (my goal is to start hiring a cleaning person later this year…I love my house being clean, but I HATE taking the time to clean it!!).

3dots

With all this said, I do get that some of you may have bosses that don’t quite get the whole work/life balance thing and require you to check emails/messages when not at the office, or taking all of your vacation days will hurt your opportunities for advancement, so following these tips may not be practical.  If that’s the case, and you are seeking more balance in your life, your only option is to look for other employment opportunities elsewhere.  Ultimately, it’s your life, so you have to take charge of it if you’re in a situation that is either not healthy for you or you’re unhappy.

Just remember…when you are old and gray and reflecting back on your life, I seriously doubt you’ll be wishing that you had put in more hours at the office and worked more.  You’ll likely wish for more time to follow your dreams,  spend time with family and friends, and enjoy life.

It’s great to have a job or career that you truly love and that you want to do every day….just remember that you are more than a job…you are YOU!  So, explore all parts of you and take the time to realize you’re worth finding ways to strike a balance between work and life.

Now…about that Daily Planner Page…Get your FREE Daily Planner Page to keep yourself focused and organized each day so you can easily balance work AND fun!

Your privacy is always respected and you may unsubscribe at any time.

3dots

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you feel you are balancing the work/life thing okay or do you need some work?  And finally, how do YOU balance work and life?  Share your tips and your thoughts below…I’d love to hear what’s on your mind!

Be sure to take some time to check out these other awesome bloggers! I’m looking forward to picking up a few new tips! :)
The B Bar | 26 and Not Counting | Rae Loves | Sarah Hartley | Carrie Loves | Soak and Simmer | The Not Quite Adult | White Cabana | PreppyPanache | LiskaMonet | Alyssa J Freitas | Rossetto | With Love From Ellie | Cake & Lilies | Feathers and Stripes | Leigh Clair | White Oak Creative | Life Modifier | Perfect Enough for Us | Random Little Faves | Jacque Of All Trades | Business Betties | Girl for Granted | Alicia Tenise | The Yuppie Flies | It’s Droolworthy | Something Good Blog | Elana Lyn | Forth Chicago | Emilie Lima Burke | Manifest Yourself | Fit for a Bride Blog | A Little Leopard | Coral and Cognacs | Little Wild Heart | It’s Julien | Boys and Bombshell | Meg Biram | Victoria McGinley

Comments

    • 12

      says

      Thanks Barbara! You’re absolutely right…if you don’t manage to keep things balanced, something will fall through the cracks and it’s likely the one or two things you don’t want to let slip!

  1. 13

    says

    Couldn’t agree more! I have never been very career oriented: I don’t want to focus all my time and energy on my job because my true goal in life is to raise a happy family. That’s it, That’s all I really want. I will be working and be doing the best job I can but I don’t want it to affect my personal life to a point that I can’t spend one evening without checking my emails!

    • 14

      says

      Yes! I know everyone is different and there are just some folks that love to work 24/7. But, for me, I just feel like having a life filled with things I enjoy and spending time with spouse/kids (I don’t have either of those, but for those that do) is much more rewarding than climbing the corporate ladder! They will be the folks that will miss you when you’re gone…not your company!

    • 16

      says

      It can definitely be hard, but once you start getting in the hang of it, you’ll start to see the value and you’ll start to see that others don’t really mind as much as we think they will (which helps make it easier) ;)!

  2. 17

    says

    Love this post! I use Google Calendar on a daily basis since I can access it anywhere, anytime. I can also share this calendar with others to keep them in the know. Each morning after reading my personal development, I sit down and write a to do list. These are items that MUST get done today. I limit this to 3. This way once those items are done, I feel accomplished and it allows me time to enjoy my family. If I feel like it, I may master something on my ‘dump’ list, which is all of my to-do’s that need to get done at some point however not a must.

    Thanks also for being one of the FEW bosses that wants their team to use vacation days and have a life outside of work :)

    • 18

      says

      I’m trying to get more into using Google Calendar…I LOVE how with google everything is synced, well, everywhere, lol. I’m traditionally a pen & paper planner, but I don’t always have my planner with me. I love that term…’dump list’…that so appropriate and also helps to mentally prioritize things. :)

  3. 19

    says

    These are GREAT tips!! I definitely need to be better about just saying “no” and not feeling guilty about it. A lot of times it is for my own good/sanity to decline an opportunity that may not be the best fit for me. There is not point in stressing myself out over something that is not going to ultimately benefit me over the long run.

    • 20

      says

      Exactly, Hannah! It can be hard, but if you keep doing it, it’ll get easier. You’ll start to value your time even more and you’ll start to see that others don’t really have as much of a problem with our saying no as we think they will, which not only makes it easier, but will help reduce the guilt!

    • 22

      says

      I agree!! Besides the time, it also sucks the energy away too (from dreading the task and depending on what it is, the actual doing of the task!)…thanks for stopping by Lindsay!

  4. 25

    says

    I am a big believer in taking time for yourself and recharging those batteries. It is so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of trying to get it all done, but of course, that only results in major burnout. I fully endorse outsourcing tasks if/when possible. I think of it as an investment and not an expenditure. I used to think it was ‘lazy’ but now I see the value in it. I need to look into IFTTT for blogging purposes. It seems like it takes a little work up front but can be a big time saver in the long run.

    • 26

      says

      Yes!! That’s a great way to think of outsourcing the mundane…it’s an investment!! I’m definitely going to start thinking of it that way. As always…thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Miranda! Love hearing from you! :)

  5. 27

    says

    So many good tips! Creating that distinction between work and after hours is really important for me – turning off my email and taking breaks really helps clear my brain and help me tackle the next day fully focused.

    • 28

      says

      Sounds like we’re on the same page! It’s sad that our society seems to value the 24/7 work mentality, but hopefully that will change over time :). Thanks for stopping by!

  6. 29

    says

    thanks for these tips! I definitely think it can be difficult to switch off on the weekends, but super important. I check emails on the weekends, but never reply until Monday unless it’s urgent. Also, I make a point to minimize time spent on my phone.

    Tianna | stop by and chat :) | http://storybookapothecary.com

    • 30

      says

      That’s awesome Tianna! It’s so easy to just bury ourselves in our phones that we don’t realize how much time we’re really wasting (and I’m totally guilty of that sometimes, lol!). As always…thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. 31

    says

    This is great advice…I’m also a huge proponent of having a life outside of work. I feel like I have a million things I like to do in my free time – I rarely ever watch TV anymore even. I also just want to say I love the look and feel of your blog! I’m relatively new to blogging so I am noticing the design of blogs more now that I’m trying to design my own. Yours is inspiring me to tweak mine a little bit. :)

    • 32

      says

      Hi Ashley! That’s how I feel..I have so many hobbies and things I enjoy doing that sitting and watching TV doesn’t happen on my weekends! I’ve never understood when people say they don’t have hobbies…I have too many to spend time on, lol.
      Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog! I did rebrand/redesign in February, which I spent a good chunk of time on, but I’m still tweaking things here & there as I go along, so I really appreciate hearing that you like it!! I just checked out your blog and I think you’re off to a good start! Your photos are gorgeous :)!

  8. 33

    says

    One thing I definitely need to work on is NOT checking my work email at home! I always say I’m not going to, but it goes straight to my phone and I check it anyways.

    I find the biggest way I maintain my balance is through to-do lists. I have a set amount of blogging related tasks I’m going to do that day before I turn off blog-mode and just spend time with the family.

    • 34

      says

      I’m with you on the lists…I love to check things off my lists so that helps me stick to the course just to get that little checkbox, lol. You should see if you can either get your work email off your phone or into a separate app so that you won’t see the work emails, but yeah, it can be challenging!

  9. 35

    Sherri S says

    Great advice! I’ve recently made a rule that I’m not going to be on my computer or phone while my kids are at home unless it’s related to something we are all doing together or just a brief personal email check in. No blogging or marketing after business hours any more. It’s hard, but it’s made a huge difference. Thanks for these! Found you over at the Blogging Elite group.

    • 36

      says

      That’s a great rule, Sherri! I’m sure your family is appreciating it too..what a great message it sends to them that you know how important they are to you (plus the bonus of you enjoying your time with them!). Work will always be there, but our families/friends might not be (not to be Debbie Downer, but ’tis true!). Thanks for swinging by and I’ll see you over at Blogging Elite!! :)

  10. 37

    says

    Oooh…great, great list here, Vicky! I’m so glad that you recognize that people need to have a life outside of work and that they’re really going to get exhausted if they’re pushed to the max each and every day in the work environment.

    • 38

      says

      It just seems silly to expect people to work (or be available) 24/7! Unless your job is saving lives, it’ll all still be there when you get back, so enjoy life! Thanks so much for stopping by, Jordana!

  11. 39

    says

    All of these tips are so, so crucial!! I’m really bad about #4 and #6, but I think I have #3 down pat! ;P
    I reallyyy need to just sit down one of these days and figure out IFTTT!

    • 40

      says

      I only have a few IFTTT things set up and I’ll be honest, I’ve never created my own recipe, I just use other people’s, lol. Definitely learn to say no! It’s hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Plus, you start to realize that others really don’t care as much as we think they will, so that also helps to build our confidence. Remember, your time is just as important as theirs!!

  12. 41

    Jazmine says

    Such great advice. Though I don’t work this definitely translates with college. I really need some balance in my life.

    • 42

      says

      Thanks Jazmine! College life is SO hard to find balance in because schedules are never consistent (well, from one semester to another, lol). Plus, there’s just so much going on! But, I hope you find some balance to enjoy your time in school :). Good luck!

  13. 43

    says

    Vicky, I love your closing remarks in this post. We are so much more than our jobs, agreed! And yes, who will, when reflecting on their life wish they spent more time working?! I think we lose sight of things and get caught up in the day to day when really, we should think about the big picture more often. Lovely ideas, thanks for sharing!
    x

    • 44

      says

      Yes! Exactly!! It’s definitely challenging when juggling so much to forget that at the end of the day, we need to enjoy our lives too…not just work ourselves to death. But, definitely a practice that most people need to work on so they’re happier and less stressed! Thanks so much for stopping by, Kira! :)

  14. 45

    says

    YES. YES, VICKY YES. THis is such gold, and way too many people need to read it. It’s so sad to me when workaholics just go go go. There’s a difference between passion and obsession! Learning to take time for yourself still is so important to maintain sanity and inner peace. I want most of my classmates to read this!! LOL!

    cominguprosestheblog.com

    • 46

      says

      I’m SO glad you like this Erica! There’s a manager at work (not my direct manager) and we’ll get emails from him at 3:00 in the morning or 5:30 in the morning..so ALL hours! He’s married with kids and I always feel so sorry for them (and it always makes me think….when I can’t sleep the LAST thing I want to do is work! That’ll just keep me awake even more! LOL). Feel free to share this with whomever you feel might benefit!

  15. 47

    says

    These are all great tips- I especially appreciate the app recommendations. I haven’t heard of these, and am excited to check them out.

  16. 49

    says

    Love your list! I am a newcomer here after the link-up, and have enjoyed reading each of these posts so much so I thought I’d share my own. I’m also in total agreement with you about how we have need to lead through action and take our vacation days, not check emails after hours, etc. Well said!

    • 50

      says

      Hi Cara! I just read through your post and loved it (I’ll be leaving you a comment right after I finish this reply back to you :)). So glad you posted yours even though you missed the link up and thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment…glad to have found your blog! :)

  17. 51

    says

    Love the layout of your post! Makes it so fun to read. Especially your point about mundane tasks is so important ;D I tend to forget stuff like that a lot and not remember it until I’m standing in front of my empty fridge without any food. Good work! (:

    • 52

      says

      I’m EXACTLY the same way! I’ve had many evenings of cereal for dinner because that’s pretty much all I have left (not that I’m complaining, lol). Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by, Liska!!

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