Organize Your Time to Optimize Your Work-Life Balance
With the season changing, it’s inevitable that there will be some changes in your business and in your personal lifestyle. You might be wanting to take some time off to vacation, your business may be changing in preparation for the new season or new hires, and even your family might be going through some changes. Keeping this in mind, it is always important to organize your time to optimize your work-life balance and continue to be the happiest version of yourself. Here are some methods you can practise to help you be more efficient in the office but still have time to bring out your best and happiest self!
1. Build a scheduled routine that includes “me” time
As generic as it sounds, building a routine and staying consistent is one of the best ways to organize your work-life balance. Start by looking at your average work day and consider your work and personal priorities. If you have a consistent work schedule, or any fixed daily commitments, you can factor that in. For example, I prioritize 8 full hours of sleep, and I have blocked 10:30 pm to 6:30 am out of my 24 hour day to sleep; I work from 9 am to 5 pm and I have those hours blocked off (you may also build a schedule within your work hours for coffee breaks, meetings, and so on); and I go to the gym for an hour (maybe more like 45 minutes) every morning so I have 7:00 am to 8:00 am blocked off. After you block off your priorities and commitments you can take a look at all the empty slots of time in your schedule and block off time for certain things you enjoy or need to do, such as cooking dinner, completing a project, or relaxing with a book. Make sure you don't book up your entire day and include time for transportation and preparation for the day, meetings, and meals. More importantly, make sure you block off some “me time” so you have time to just focus on yourself and what ever you feel like doing in the moment!
Once you have your schedule, try to follow it the best you can and make modifications as needed. Try to consistently follow that schedule and build a routine. Sticking to a routine will help you in terms of time management, help you prioritize, but will also help you be more focused in and outside of work knowing that you have a time and place for everything.
2. Make a daily list
Start your day with creating a daily “To-Do” list. Make sure to have at least two columns: one for “work” and one for “life” and any other columns for other commitments you have. Within those columns categorize your daily tasks by, “what needs to be done today” and “what can be done tomorrow” to help you prioritize. Creating these daily lists and checking off tasks as you complete them can give you a sense of accomplishment and increase productivity. Make sure that your To-Do’s are tasks that need to be completed and not goals for the day. You can have a separate list of goals that include daily, weekly and long-term goals!
3. Increase productivity by taking breaks
While at work, work hard and stay focused. However, work hard and stay focused for only a short period of time, then take a break. There are theories that prove that working hard and staying focused for about 20-30 minutes then taking a short 3-5 minute break to stretch or maybe grab a coffee, increases productivity. With the newer generation entering the workforce, it is important to understand the psychological change in behaviour in terms of focusing and that sprints of productivity may be more effective.
4. Make time for your health and well-being
If you are able to fit an hour of gym time into your schedule, that's awesome! But many of us don't have time to go to the gym or may not like going to the gym. Although working out is great and contributes to a healthy lifestyle, making time for your health and well-being doesn’t necessarily mean spending an hour at the gym every day. It means doing little things throughout the day that are healthy for our body and mind, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, listening to your favourite music, eating an apple instead of a chocolate bar. But, it can also be more than that, like saying no to things that make you stressed or unhappy, turning down some opportunities (and prioritizing) so you don’t have too much on your plate. These are all simple changes you can make to increase your happiness.
5. Read (or listen)
You’ll read on lots of blogs and websites that a good way to make your life happier is to read. It is a good way to practise continuous learning and also can give you a break from what is going on in the real world. If you’re anything like me, sitting down and reading a book is not one of my most favourite things to do. I would rather spend my time doing something else. If you have the time, I definitely recommend using that down time for reading a good fictional novel or a self improvement lifestyle book! However, if you are always on the go and don’t often find that you have the time (or interest) in reading, or for any of those auditory learners out there, I recommend listening to a podcast or audiobook. There are many apps you can download to your computer or mobile device that allow you to download audiobooks and podcasts such as Stitcher or Audible. Personally, I’m all about personal development and continuous growth, so I download audiobooks about topics such as leadership, sales and marketing, and original thinking, taking time to listen to them while I’m driving or walking to work!
6. Turn off technology/push notifications
It’s almost impossible to go through a day without using technology. Many of us have to stare at a screen all day to earn a living! The use of technology, especially when it involves staring at a screen for hours on end, can actually affect your mental and physical health as well as your productivity.
Turning off push notifications is a great way to make you a happier, more productive person. While push notifications may be good for business, constant buzzing encouraging you to open an app may not be good for your business. Simply put, push notifications are a distraction. Think about all the time you were working away, super focused, and getting stuff done, then “buzz buzz” your phone goes off, you check to see a little text bubble in your phone that reminds you that a product you don’t know is on sale from an app you don’t use. Since you’re on your phone, you unlock it, check your texts, maybe your Instagram, then 15 minutes later you get back to work. Even if you checked your phone quickly and then went right back to work, you still may have lost your train of thought.
Whether you’re at work, at home, or out and about, push notifications can also be overwhelming and make you anxious. When you get a push notification and don’t check it right away, you begin to stress out, needing to know what it is. If you get a bunch at once, you may even feel overwhelmed and check them out anyway. My best recommendation is to start by putting your mobile devices on silent - and if you have time later, go through your app settings and turn off notifications for apps that you know you don’t need to check up on all the time, such as social media and games.
Lastly, technology actually affects your physical health. Studies have proven that staring at a screen, whether it be your computer, TV, iPad or phone, reduces the production of a hormone called melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. Staying on your phone late at night can actually affect your ability to sleep. It is recommended to have at least a 30 minute tech-fee period before going to bed. In these 30 minutes you could prepare your lunch for the next day, get your bag together or maybe even crack open a book!
What are some ways you organize your time? How do you optimize your work-life balance? We would love you hear, so leave a comment!
Ashley Dubois - Marketing Placement Student