Impending deadlines, hours of meetings, building proposals, coordinating projects—starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed? You’re definitely not alone. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the seemingly never-ending responsibilities of a job. But while the whirlwind of professional life often forces many of us to forfeit the things we love to do, there are ways to stop the cycle and embrace personal time once again. Here are five tips you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help you build and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
1. Set Aside Time to Unplug
If you have a full-time job, you spend at least 40 hours every week focused on your work. But the reality is that many people are spending much more time on the clock than the traditional 9–5. Regardless of how busy you are, it is critical that you plan ahead and set aside time to think about things other than work.
Pencil out at least thirty minutes or an hour (or more, if you can) every single day in your schedule to do something non-work related. During this time, you can do anything you want as long as it doesn’t have to do anything with your job. Watch some TV, spend quality time with family, or engage in some of your hobbies and interests. Unplugging from work, even if just for a little while, will help you recharge and be even more productive when you do go back to your responsibilities.
2. Exercise Your Body and Mind
Just like setting aside some time to unplug, put some time on your calendar to get some exercise in. Although you may not have a choice if you’re really strapped for time, it’s a good idea to have separate time for family, hobbies, and interests versus exercise. Go to the gym, take a 30-minute run, do some low-intensity yoga, or find another way to become more active. Putting these activities on your calendar will create a natural barrier between your life and work—not to mention, regular exercise promotes physical well-being and helps reduce stress.
If you’re not into exercising, or if you want to supplement your activity with something more introspective, consider carving out some time for meditation. Sitting down in a quiet space for 15 to 30 minutes can help you center yourself and lead to less stress.
3. Take Time Off
Have you ever found yourself at the end of the calendar year with weeks of unused paid time off (PTO)? Don’t let yourself get to that point again! While work can be incredibly busy, it’s critical to take breaks when you can. Disconnecting completely from work for a few days gives you the opportunity to become refreshed and re-energized.
Organize a trip to somewhere you’ve been longing to visit, take a Friday off to create a three-day weekend, or plan a stay-cation. Whatever you want to do, make sure to use your PTO (but make sure to give your boss plenty of heads-up). This is your time to use, don’t let it go to waste!
4. Set Boundaries
While this tip might not be possible for everyone depending on a role, it’s important to set boundaries at work when you can. Determine your working hours, communicate those with your team, and try your best to not work outside of them. To make this easier, consider using separate computers, phones and tablets for work and your personal life.
5. Speak to a Professional
If you’re following these tips, and you still don’t feel like you’ve grasped a solid work-life balance, consider speaking to a personal coach or a therapist. By asking you questions and listening to your thoughts, concerns and goals, these professionals will gain a more holistic understanding of your personality and help you come up with strategies to build and maintain a work-life balance.