7 Work-Life Balance Tips to Avoid Burnout
You’ve had a hectic day at the office. A last minute crisis occurred and you worked 2 hours overtime to get everything done. When you finally arrive home you’re too exhausted to cook dinner (and substitute with greasy takeaways and a cheap bottle of wine).Your ‘quality time’ with your spouse consists of a few muttered sentences before doing the laundry and other crucial tasks, then rolling into bed exhausted.
Does this all sound familiar? Maintaining a work life balance is tough for anyone with a full-time career. Business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other high performers already know this; that’s why many of them have secret coping mechanisms.
Here are 7 secrets to restoring your precious work life balance – without sacrificing your career opportunities or harming your business.
1: Meditation Isn’t Just For Hippies
I’d been told about the benefits of meditation for many years – by my parents, colleagues, friends.
And if you need science to convince you, a study by Harvard Medical School has found that meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, as well as helping with anxiety, depression and stress. So if you’d like to give it a shot, look up your local meditation centre.
There are also apps which make meditation more accessible for beginners. It’s a good tool for briefly escaping the noise and stress, and giving your brain some much needed R&R. Stop, breathe, relax.
2. I Had to Realize I Couldn’t “Have It All”
There are no days we can be a perfect mom, co-worker, and wife all at once. As much as we’d like to believe it or read books about “leaning” in, we can’t have it all. At least not all at once.
And that’s OK. Balance is sometimes swaying in one direction too much, and then back the other way again. The sooner I realized I wasn’t supposed to do everything to fit society’s standards, the more peace I felt.
3.) Pick THREE Things To Get Done Each Day
This is when I started my “3 items” rule. I would pick just three absolute necessities to get done that day. To start my list looked like this:
- Take care of myself
- Take care of family
- Get work for my job done
As these tasks became more manageable I made them just part of my routine and would slowly add in new goals as long as I felt comfortable. And not a minute before. It doesn’t matter if we’re married or single, with kids or not when we pack our day too full we’re setting ourselves up for failure. .
Sometimes it’s OK if things don’t get done as soon as we want (this is separate from our job where certain tasks are expected, though!). Delayed gratification, and even delayed success, can sometimes have some unexpected benefits. Sometimes it not only preserves your insanity, but things can turn our better with a little more time.
4) Learn to Say No
Like they always say on airplanes – you need to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you don’t put your own work priorities first, everyone else’s demands can easily start to suck up your time. Before you know it you’re doing everyone’s job except your own.
To avoid this you need to become an expert at saying ‘no’. It’s one of the hardest words in the English language to get comfortable saying. This is especially true when it’s your boss, a client, or a colleague who’s helped you in the past. But with practice saying ‘no’ gets easier.
This doesn’t only apply to work chores but social requests as well. When colleagues ask you out drinking on a weeknight, or try to drag you out to a long lunch, weigh up your desires and priorities before agreeing. If it’s going to waste time you’d rather spend more productively, you know what to say.
5) Take Breaks Religiously
During a busy working day it’s easy to forget about your entitled breaks. Some of us even forget to eat lunch. But taking a few moments of rest each day is crucial for preventing burnout and exhaustion, no matter how busy you are.
If you know you’re the type to forget, schedule short breaks into your calendar like you would any meeting or appointment. Make sure you’re marked as busy so everyone knows not to interrupt you. Find a quiet room or take a walk outside. Even short 10 minute breaks a few times a day can do wonders for your mental health.
Similarly, make sure your “rest” time doesn’t include scrolling through social media. If anything, this can cause more UNREST. I know for me it does. A true rest period will be social media and phone free.
6) Create “I Did” Lists instead of “To-Do” Lists
Lastly, it can be SO hard to feel like we accomplished anything in a day when we didn’t finish that project at work, we STILL haven’t folded the laundry, and we’re not sure we actually ate lunch. While I love my to-do lists, lately I’ve been creating “I did” lists at the end of the day to remind myself all I have accomplished.
- ate three healthy meals
- fed the family
- took care of the cat
- sent out birthday cards
- answered emails/important DMs
- rested for 15 minutes
- made someone beautiful
No accomplishment is too small to include. Go ahead and make your list and feel good about what you did get done that day. If all you did was take care of you and your baby, well that’s an accomplishment in itself, too.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go implement my own advice.