In recent years, society has gotten the idea that overworking, jam-packed schedules, and zero work-life balance should be the norm and acceptable. However, many studies actually challenge that notion and suggest that a lifestyle revolving around those habits can negatively affect our health, families, relationships, communities, and even your work performance. The truth is, the most beneficial and successful lifestyle is all about an effective work-life balance. If you fall into the overworked category, don’t worry, you are not alone. It is time to take back your time, your freedom and regain control of your life instead of allowing your calendar to control you.
Here are five steps to take back your time.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Taking control of your time begins with effective time management. Start by evaluating your current performance and activity. Are you accomplishing everything you want or need to be doing every day? Are your days busy with activity, or are you productive with your activity? There is a difference. Those who are productive are the ones who get things done and have control of their time each day. To maximize your daily productivity, begin with prioritizing what is urgent from what is important, then schedule yourself a window of time to get the urgent tasks done. If you do that and maintain a positive mindset about what you can get accomplished, you will take back your time within the workday with ease.
Be Mindful of How You Spend Down Time
Everyone needs downtime to just veg, some like it more than others. But, a positive work-life balance does not mean working from 9 am to 6 pm and then laying on the couch from 6 pm to bedtime. Instead, make a game plan for your time after you are done with the workday. Clearly identify two to three things that you want to get accomplished once you are home. This can include a productive task like cleaning the kitchen or a relaxing one such as enjoying a glass of wine with your spouse. If your post-work game plan does include a break or down time on the couch, set a time limit for yourself and stick to it. The key is to avoid wasting time, and instead spend it on personal tasks that will help to better your peace of mind.
Overhaul Your Time-Sucking Habits
E-mail, the telephone, social media, text messages, surfing the web, all of these actions can take over and consume all of our time. It is important to manage these time-sucking habits in order to effectively manage your daily schedule and time. Many of us begin each work-day with one of the time-suckers. Instead of getting caught up in a mess of emails, or lost in voicemails, start your day by accomplishing a task. If you can do this, you will do more than most people do during an entire day. Emails and messages, etc. are still important to take care of, just not first thing. Schedule yourself 2-3 windows dedicated solely to responding to emails or follow up phone calls. Respond with direct, and clear communication in order to decrease unnecessary follow-ups and time spent on more emails. When at home, we fall victim to different time-suckers like social media and text messages. Instead of spending your evenings with your cell phone, unplug from the digital world, and enjoy the company of your family or doing something for yourself.
Learn to Say No
One of the hardest things for many people to do is to say no to something. However, it is also one of the most important skills to be able to do. If you are in control of your time, then you know what is on your plate and how much more you can take on. By accepting new projects and responsivities when your list is already full it will only set you back even further. Be honest with how much you can take on, and say no when you need to. If you decide to decline, do so in a direct, polite, and prompt manner. By avoiding over-commitment, it allows you to be productive, get things accomplished and manage your time both in and out of work.
Take Time for You
In order to get your freedom back, it is suggested that the way we should spend our time is for productive work, and the enjoyment of life. Work-life balance isn’t fully balanced without doing the things you want to do. From meditation, to shopping, or being active outside, taking time for YOU is a critical piece of the puzzle. You-time can be scheduled over the weekend or evening and can also span multiple days by taking that much-needed vacation you’ve been thinking about. Studies actually show that vacations decrease the likelihood of heart attacks and depression in both men and women. Regardless of your length of time or activity, you-time is important to get your mindset right, and to even out the stresses that come with daily work.
Taking back your time is vital for both professional and personal success. It is also a gradual process that doesn’t just happen overnight. With the commitment to regaining that control and balance in your life and being consistent in your actions, you can reach the ultimate lifestyle.