This is a guest post from Carrie Smith from Careful Cents.
As a full-time accountant by day and financial blogger at night, I have to consciously think about my work-life balance. I love to work, be productive and cross things off my to-do list. However, I tend to be a bit of a workaholic and forget that I need to cultivate a social life as well. Since acknowledging this problem, I’ve been striving to create a better work-life balance.
Here’s how I do it…
1. Work for an employer who understands balance. Thankfully, I work for an amazing boss. She understands the value of taking time off and what it means to put family first. Several years ago, I found myself focusing way too much of my time and energy on my job. I was losing contact with my friends, getting sick more often and constantly feeling stressed.
So I asked my boss if I could cut back to working four-10 hour work days, instead of the usual five-8 hour days. You won’t believe how having that extra “free” day open to run errands or meet friends for coffee, can be so relaxing. Good employers want happy and productive employees, and the best way to get that, is to understand a good work-life balance.
2. Schedule in your down time. If you want to take a break or go on a vacation, then set aside the time and schedule it. The main reason many of us get things done at work is because that’s the time allotted to do it. To create that perfect work-life balance you have to schedule in play time, just like you do work time.
Couples should set time aside for a regular date night, and families should pencil in an activity together, like a game night or Sunday brunch. It gives everyone something to look forward to and strengthens the relationships.
3. Let go of unproductive habits. In this world of social media, news programs and television, everything is vying for our attention. We are constantly distracted and pulled in different directions. While some of these outlets are worthwhile, many of them just add a lot of stress noise.
Unsubscribe from mailing lists, curb your time on the web and limit yourself when checking Twitter and Facebook. Multi-tasking is one of my big unproductive habits. It spreads my focus and effort on too many tasks at once, and keeps me from getting anything done at all. Let go of your unproductive and time consuming habits. Focus your attention in the moment, with the task at hand.
4. Set reasonable limits and stick to them. If you have a demanding schedule or overbearing boss, it’s time to express your limits and stick to them. Don’t allow your work to bleed into your personal life. Set a firm cut off time, where you put down the cell phone, unplug your computer and enjoy life. Don’t take on more than you can handle at your job, always under-promise and over-deliver. It will keep you striving to do your best, but it won’t overwhelm you and push you past your limits.
5. Create a serenity zone at home. Your home is supposed to be a place of peace, but for most of us, it’s a war zone and the center of constant conflict. Simplify your home life by turning it into a place of serenity, a retreat from the outside stress and noise.
Small things like lighting candles, eating dinner with your family, and reading at night before bed, all create an atmosphere of relaxation. They help to calm your mind and relieve your body of any tension. I’ve learned sometimes it’s more important to leave the chores till morning, and focus on time with your friends and family.
Getting the perfect work-life balance
I have by no means created my perfect balance story yet, but I’m always working towards it. There will always be things we can do better and improve on, but the important thing is we keep trying.
Find those things that bring balance to your life and cultivate them. Never let your job or life pressures throw you too far out of balance. If you feel yourself tilting to one side or another, try implementing some of these tips to keep your zen intact.
How do you find that perfect work-life balance?
Carrie Smith, is the writer behind the Careful Cents personal finance blog. She’s a Certified Bookkeeper and Tax Consultant who loves to travel. She’s also a career junkie, social media addict, debt hater and food lover. She regularly writes for Yahoo!Finance and PerkStreet Financial. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.