How to Achieve a True Work-Life Balance
Spend your time wisely, according to the experts.
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
Work-life balance—or the "equalization of the professional and personal parts of your life in a way that works best for you," as career coach Hallie Crawford explains it—looks a bit different for each of us. But one thing is certain: It's important to have work-life balance. How do you get it? Here, career experts dish on how to achieve a work-life balance that works for you.
Define what work-life balance means to you.
Because everyone has a different definition of work-life balance, it's important to visualize what it might look like for you before you decide what needs to change in order to achieve it, explains Crawford. Decide what you want to spend your time on, and how much time each priority needs to take in your life. (Think of work-life balance as a pie chart, if you will, filling your slices with those priorities.) Then, "set quarterly goals for yourself and reassess at that time," she suggests.
Track how you spend your time.
If you find yourself overworked—or working too late—start tracking your work activities, says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. Identify the most time-consuming projects and tasks, then think about how you can cut back on them with automation, assistance, or simple rescheduling.
"For there to be work-life balance, your work shouldn't unnecessarily creep into your personal time," Crawford explains. She suggests deciding how available you want to be when you're not at the office—such as on weekends, or when you're on vacation. Then stick to those boundaries. (And don't use your down-time willy-nilly, she adds. Make sure you take the time to recharge.)
Recently, Jacinto found herself on a productivity spree, wrapping up a presentation for a full 60 minutes without interruption. She later realized she was able to focus and finish her work quickly because her WiFi was down. "I was unable to get distracted by incoming emails," she explains. Now, she suggests clients take time to unplug at work. "Don't go offline all day, but remember there is no rule that says you need to respond to every email within five minutes," Jacinto says.
Create a schedule.
Many of us work better or more efficiently during specific times of the day. Identify those times, then "schedule your most difficult tasks for this time as much as possible," says Crawford. "This will allow you to get the hardest projects done and out of the way, allowing for more downtime."
Gain a little perspective.
To attain true work-life balance, it's important to understand that sometimes your life will not be perfectly balanced, Jacinto says. "Sometimes you need to tip your seesaw more toward work and other times, tip it more towards personal," she says. But, she adds, "if work is consistently taking precedent, then you need to step back and reevaluate how to carve out more personal time."