How often do you “leave” work only to think about everything that happened that day, or remember all the tasks you need to do for the next day? To be honest, I never had many issues dealing with work-life balance until I started working for myself. When you have seemingly a million things on your to-do list to keep your business running smoothly, it can be difficult to shut those thoughts out.
Achieving that work-life balance is more important than you may think. When we allot time to disconnect from our work, we allow our minds to reset. Not only is this beneficial to our health, but also our productivity for when we come back to work.
Here are some of my tried-and-true tips for achieving that work-life balance.
Let go of perfectionism
It’s fine to want to strive to be your very best, but it shouldn’t prevent you from progressing. Hyper-focusing on the small details can be paralyzing. When our high standards get in the way of our productivity, we can get behind in our schedule, develop anxiety, and ultimately burn ourselves out.
Try to catch yourself when you start to feel like you’re becoming too focused on the small details. Remind yourself that no one is perfect and that you need to put your mental health first.
The next time you feel you’re being a perfectionist, ask yourself this: what’s the worst that will happen if I don’t perfect this one thing? Whenever I ask myself that question, it’s more than likely nothing of actual importance, but rather just me being nit-picky. If you must, take a break and come back with a fresh set of eyes—that’s when I truly realize how much I’ve been lost in my work.
Find ways to manage your time better
Try your best to avoid multitasking. Focusing on two or more things at once makes it difficult for our brain to organize thoughts and lowers the efficiency of our work.
Create a sense of urgency that will help you get all your tasks done for the day. The more productive you can be during the day, the easier it will be to disconnect knowing you’ve taken care of everything. Check out this post for more time management tips!
Overlap activities that can go together, work-related or not. For example, whenever I have a client shoot that involves lots of props, I’ll also schedule some time in after that session to use those props for other photos. Those photos then become extras that I can use for my own marketing. That way, I’m able to save time instead of having to get those props back out and set up for that shoot.
By managing our time better, we can have that precious time back in our personal lives that helps us reset, which leads me to…
Schedule some time for yourself
Find what’s important to you and schedule time for those activities. When we’re in constant work mode, our hobbies often get pushed aside—sometimes even abandoned.
If you don’t have a hobby, start one! Having a hobby is a perfect outlet for de-stressing. It distracts our thoughts, pushes our creativity, and even provides something to look forward to after that long day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll do that later.” Schedule time for it now and see it through.
Create a little self-care routine for yourself each evening with things you enjoy. Maybe that involves watching some Netflix, or enjoying a cup of tea and a bath. Whatever it may be, make it a regular occurrence so you can consistently conquer that work stress.
It can be hard to disconnect from social media, or our phones at all. This is especially difficult if your job, like many, requires it. But consider this: according to a recent study, social media can have a negative impact on our anxiety levels. The more we use social media, the greater we are at risk of having an anxiety disorder.
Being exposed to so much information constantly can be overwhelming to our brain. The workday is tough enough—use that precious time you have away from work to do other activities that reset your mind.
You don’t have to quit social media cold turkey, though. Instead of endlessly scrolling Facebook after work, set a time limit and use that extra time to try something new. You can also try setting a time for social media after 6 o’clock, or maybe picking one day where you don’t use it at all. Try something that works for you and ultimately makes you feel better and more productive in the end.
Learn to say no
We can’t say yes to everything, or else we don’t have time to do the things we enjoy! You have every right to respectfully decline. I often get asked to do projects for free. While these were great opportunities when I first started my business, I quickly found myself unnecessarily working late nights and unable to keep up.
The same can happen with paid opportunities, too! Really get to know your potential client before you take on a project. If you get any red flags that you feel don’t jibe with you, kindly let them you that you don’t feel you’re the right fit. Spreading yourself out too thin is a quick and easy way to burn yourself out.
Be concise and simple in your reply and let them know the truth. If you need to, take some time to really think your options over. Learning to say “no” is a lesson in self-confidence itself. When you respect yourself and your time enough to say no, you’re putting your needs first rather than just trying to be a people-pleaser.
Schedule social time
We’re social creatures by nature. While I’m an introvert who adores my alone time, I find myself severely disconnected if I don’t get out and socialize. Everyone’s social needs will vary, but it’s important to have that social time.
Connections with others not only make us feel better, but it’s better for our health. In fact, studies show higher levels of cortisol in our body when we feel lonely. Too much of that kind of stress raises your risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, and more. Ensure that you’re getting that precious social time to connect with others.
Get more sleep
I know, I know—it’s not an easy task! Using your phone before bed isn’t exactly helpful either because blue light actually suppresses our melatonin development. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve spent on my phone trying to fall asleep and just endlessly scrolling the ‘gram!
As someone who is high-anxiety and has a hard time sleeping, I found that reading before bed is a *perfect* way to help me fall asleep. Try finding a book that is a relatively easy read and rich in description. Not only is the action of your eyes scanning the page a relaxing exercise, but a great book that helps your mind wander is great for easing you into sleep.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep as well. A recent study suggests that sleep deprivation is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. If you find yourself needing more than 8 hours of sleep like me, plan your schedule to fit that. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is essential for your body to repair itself.
Leave work at work
It can be tough, especially if you’re a business owner who works from home. Avoid checking emails after 5pm (or whichever time schedule you may be on). If you need to, stop your phone from sending you email notifications.
Before you finish work for the day, create a small list of the tasks that you need to accomplish the next day. It helps provide a sense of closure for the day and also prepares you tomorrow.
When you leave work, use your commute home as a break itself. Put on your favorite music or podcast and take in your surroundings. Maybe switch things up and take a longer route home and experience something new, or stop at a park. If you work from home, try taking a walk after work to unwind.
A third of our lives are spent at work, so it’s important that we find that healthy work-life balance. And as much as we’d like to keep working to get everything finished, it’s important that we take the time to let ourselves rest. Whether that’s through socializing or just stepping away from our phones, every moment we take to relax betters our health, productivity, and way of life.