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5 killer tips for better work/life balance

The juggle is real - and not going anywhere - so how the hell can we to get it right?! Let's ask the work/life balance experts for some help.

I don’t know about you but it’s a perennial discussion topic for my friends and me over a glass (OK, bottle) of wine – how to get the balance right when you’ve got a crazy busy life. And is it even useful to frame things in terms of work/life balance anyway? While I don’t claim to have any definitive answers, I have interviewed a lot of authors who specialise in this kind of thing so here are the best nuggets of advice I’ve heard recently. Let me know if you try any of them – and if you’ve got a tip, trick or strategy that works for you, please do share with the class in the comment box below.

Just say no

Reshma Saujani, author of Brave Not Perfect: 

I say yes all the time – at work, to favours, to anyone who asks for a few minutes of my time for advice. Like you, probably, this is something that drains my time and energy and leaves me depleted. So I’m working hard on changing. I’m learning to look at saying no as a value calculation. I ask myself: What are the things that are the highest value for me? What aligns with my purpose? My two highest priorities are my family and making a difference in the world. So I try to make choices that serve those priorities and say no to things that don’t. Turns out it’s pretty easy to tell the difference.

 

Pick three categories of your life to focus on in any given day

Randi Zuckerberg, author of Pick Three:

In order to set myself up for success, I know I can only realistically do three things well every day. So every day when I wake up I think to myself: Work. Sleep. Family. Friends (this is basically a catch-all for anything that’s fun so includes hobbies too). Fitness. Pick three. I can pick a different three tomorrow and a different three the following day. But today, I can only pick three. As long as I wind up picking everything over the long run, then I’m balancing my imbalance.

 

Observe a power hour

Gretchen Rubin, author of Outer Order Inner Calm:

Most of us have a long list or unpleasant chores that aren’t urgent, so we just keep postponing them. Over time, this procrastination drains us. To tackle this problem, try scheduling a “power hour”. Make a list of all the tasks you’d like to accomplish, and once a week, for just one hour, steadily work on these chores. Little by little, we can get a lot accomplished.

 

Make your work/life blend work for you

Emma Gannon, author of The Multi-Hyphen Method:

However much you think you have separation between your work and leisure life, these days they are firmly stuck together and this blended approach can be positive when you’re self-employed [or juggling work and family]. Here are my tips on getting your blend right. 1. If you’ve blended your work week and weekends make sure you give yourself time off, ie if you worked on a project on Sunday night, give yourself a break one weekday afternoon and don’t feel guilty about it. 2. Always take a day in lieu – even if you work for yourself. 3. Take note of your hours so you have a limit and something to stick to.  

 

Chunk your me-time

Annie Ridout, author of The Freelance Mum:

I’ve found stealing little pockets of time for myself makes it all bearable. For instance, I hop in a really hot bath five minutes before the kids to soak alone before adding cold water and pulling them in with me [Ed’s note: Annie’s children are tiny, not teenagers!]. I go for a mini 10 minute run in the morning. Once I’ve finished work in the evening, I read a novel for five minutes before lights out. I’d love to have massages and weekend spa retreats but it’s just not doable so I find time for myself in smaller, more manageable ways.

 

Words @Kerry_Potter

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