10 Simple Ways to Create a Work/Life Balance

Balance is necessary in all aspects of our lives: from the peanut butter to jelly ratio that our parents exercised while making us sandwiches to finding the right amount of time to spend between your boyfriend and best friend.  Why should your career be any different?  As driven as we all are about our careers, we need to take some time to focus on ourselves outside of the office.

What exactly is a work-life balance?  It’s finding the middle ground between your career and lifestyle.  According the Families and Work Institute, 61% of executives in a study about work/life balance were work-centric.  This meant that the executives studied placed a higher priority as work rather than finding a comfortable middle ground between work and leisure.  Dual-centric executives put the same priority on their lives both on the job and off the job – while this accounted for only 32% of the total study size, dual-centric individuals were found to be happier and overall more satisfied with their job than the work-centric folks.

Still, it’s not easy to put down the Blackberry!  Here are some tips to help you try to find your own work/life balance.

Strict Working Boundaries

Whenever I leave the office at the end of the day, I take a deep breath before I head to my car. This little ritual gets me disconnected from whatever I was working on at the end of the day and into the present. Getting into the habit of mentally leaving work when you physically leave work will help you keep the two spheres of your life separate.

Scheduling and Organization

I am addicted to my iPhone. There, I said it. I like to plan out my days and have little reminders pop up to keep me on track with my plans. That being said, I find that organization is key to creating a work/life balance. When you leave work, have something else planned – grocery shopping, checking out the local florist, a cycling class, etc. Have specific tasks for certain days of the week.

Prioritize Your Tasks

The best way to manage your time is to prioritize what you’ll be working on. You know the CEO will be in town next week, so instead of putting off your expense reports until next week, plan it out ahead so you can get it done earlier.  No more staying at the office all hours of the night to finish that big assignment!

Find Discipline in Your Routine and Stick to It

We all know how this goes – one quick glance in the lower right hand side of my screen and I notice that it’s well past 5 o’clock and I still don’t have intentions to leave the office. Instead of trying to finish a task, save it and get up. Adhering to a stricter schedule of when to leave work will also help you prioritize what tasks you need done.

Commuter Catch-Up

I have a 45 minute commute home daily, and I utilize that time by calling up friends and family to check in. While it might seem trivial, being able to catch up during the week leaves me feeling less stressed about making time to see everyone.

Be Present

Try to be emotionally present when you are physically present.  When you’re home, keep your mind focused on home. Think to yourself about what you can do to further separate yourself from work – you can do some laundry, re-organize your bookshelf, or curl up on the couch with a good book.  Don’t stress about what you have to do the next day.

Hour of “Me” Time Daily

It’s so hard to find a minute to yourself, let alone an hour, but this is just what the doctor ordered.  Head to the gym and take that yoga class that you’ve been meaning to try out. Pour yourself a glass of wine and catch up on new episodes of The Bachelor. Treat yourself to a manicure on your way home.

Set Time for Checking in with Work

If you have a large project due or an important meeting with your boss the next day, schedule 10-20 minutes to double check everything and to check your inbox.  Be sure to turn on a timer so you do not surpass your allotted time – next thing you know, it could be four hours later.

Tech Turn-Off

Chances are that you haven’t turned your smartphone off other than to try and get an app to start working again. Take a few minutes before bed and turn off your phone, or if your phone is your alarm, set the “Do Not Disturb” function. You don’t need to wake up at 3am to check your emails!

Working on Vacation?

One thing that I learned fairly quickly after I started working for a corporation was that vacations really weren’t vacations at all.  I would get replies from coworkers who were vacationing in Aruba to keep me updated on the most trivial of things! When you’re on vacation, do not check your email. Period. You are taking the time to get out of the office and whatever problem there is, it can wait until you get back.

What do you think?  Do you have any tips that you use to keep your work and leisure separate?

Kristina Mahar

Kristina Mahar is currently living and working in Connecticut. She currently works at GE Capital supporting a team of IT CIOs, which keeps her busy and happy. Prior to her role at GE Capital, Kristina has worked at an international hedge fund, a technology center of excellence, and as a writer. Although new to the world of blogging, Kristina has been writing since the moment she could hold a pen. Follow Kristina on Twitter @KristinaMahar.</