Feeling swamped by work? Here are 10 tips to help you balance the demands of work and the needs of having a life.
1. Manage your time
If you’re going to prioritize, you need to start by organizing – particularly your time.
Try taking a weekly calendar and map out your time. Start with the most important and least flexible responsibilities, then build out from there. Instead of multi-tasking, try to find ways to overlap things. Is there something you want to try? See if your kids are interested in it.
2. Take time for you
There’s a blank spot on your calendar! Quick, fill it with a work commitment, or an organizational event, or…maybe time for yourself?
You can always turn down invitations for no better reason than you want that time for yourself. Exercise, TV, shopping – whatever you’re into, make sure to take time for you.
3. Have a life
As hard as it might be to cram them into your schedule, schedule recurring social activities like book groups or dinners with friends. If you build these into your schedule on a regular basis, it’ll be easier to plan around them (instead of planning your social life around work).
Having these can also help you focus more during the day, knowing you’ve got something to look forward to.
4. Manage your work
If you tell people you need to leave at a certain time, you’re much more likely to do so. Make that commitment to yourself, and share it with others.
There’s an element of training your co-workers as much as training yourself – as you discuss plans throughout the day, tell them if they need something, let you know by 3 p.m. A few days of this, and they’ll get used to you leaving on time every day.
5. Enjoy your days off
Instead of saving all your chores for Sunday, get them done Saturday, or knock out a few of them during the week. For example, I often mow the lawn on an evening after work, so I don’t have to lose a couple of hours during the weekend on it. Plus, it’s relaxing after a day in the office.
Always, always use your vacation time – it’s in your employer’s best interests to have rested, recharged employees.
6. Make time for family
While it can be hard to accept the fact you need help, sometimes it’s the better option for yourself and your family. Hiring a housecleaning service, for example, can open up a block of time you didn’t know existed.
Another possibility to make time is online shopping at work – or on your phone during a lunch break. You can set up automatic purchases for essentials and get them delivered to your door.
7. Get chores done
Here’s a way to attack your chores – do the least favorite chore at the beginning of each week. That helps it feel more manageable and takes the burden off for the rest of the week.
The feeling of work burnout tends to increase as the week moves forward, so by frontloading your work week evenings with your least favorite tasks, you can reserve the more enjoyable work-night activities for the end of the week.
8. Cook with organization
Ready…set…cook! To loosen up the rest of your evening, try setting a goal to have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less. You’d be surprised how many things can be cooked in 25-30 minutes, and it’s a surefire way of getting time back several times a week.
Bonus points for cooking several meals’ worth on Sunday night and only having five minutes of reheat time.
9. Put smaller things on your to-do list
Go big or go home isn’t the motto here. Try adding even the tiniest tasks to your daily agenda – when you cross them off, you’re building a sense of accomplishment and gaining momentum for taking on big projects.
If you’ve got something big on tap, break down the smaller pieces so you can see exactly what needs to get done. This step of planning how to finish a task frees our mind to focus on the here and now rather than obsessing over that impending to-do.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’s easier said than done, but sometimes you just need to let things go.
So what if the dishes don’t washed every day or that the house doesn’t get vacuumed every week. Learn to recognize the things that don’t really have much impact in your life and allow yourself to let them go — and then not beat yourself up for doing so.