To enjoy a rich, fulfilling life, you must strike a balance between your professional and personal endeavors.
Too often we succumb to relentless working hours that leave us burnt out, fatigued, and without time for anything but sleep at the end of a grueling day.
Whether you love your job or totally despise it, you’re likely starting to realize that work can’t dominate every waking moment of your day. It’s not meaningful, sustainable, or at all enjoyable.
We’ve prepared a handful of effective, underrated strategies to improve your work-life balance and tip the scales back in the right direction.
1. Crystalize Your Focus
You might think that you’re a complex and intricate machine that can execute a dizzying number of tasks in a single day. And you’re right, because you are!
But what if we told you that you’d accomplish every task faster and more effectively by centering your focus on one task at a time?
The Stats on Multitasking Are Grim
Researchers have revealed that for each new task you attempt to take on, you lose 20% of your overall productivity in the process.
The text you’re writing while reading this blog post and typing an email to your co-worker while perusing the menu of the deli down the street—none of those things are getting thoughtfully completed, are they?
Your brain can’t process multiple tasks at once, but rather frantically switches back and forth from one task to another.
In fact, one study found that as little as 2.5% of people are true multi-taskers who can simultaneously split their focus between tasks.
For the rest of us, attempting to multitask crushes productivity and increases our chances of making mistakes. Instead, we should champion “single-tasking” or “monotasking”.
Go Deep on One Thing
When you focus deeply on the present moment and shift all your attention to a single task, you’ll execute that task with greater quality, clarity, and depth, and feel less stressed while doing it.
Crystalizing your focus and practicing single-tasking will surge your productivity and enable you to accomplish more in the same amount of time, freeing up extra time for other things.
Single-tasking can be applied to work tasks such as crafting a deliverable or actively engaging in a team meeting, by turning off your slack notifications, but it can also apply to personal and downtime.
For example, when you’re reading a book, refrain from pausing your natural reading flow to check your work email. Instead, fully engage in the story and enjoy each new page, then check your phone after you’ve put the book down. Turn off notifications on items you are not currently engaging with to prevent your mind from being pulled in competing directions.
2. The Brighter Side of Routines & Schedules
When you’re in the thick of it, life whizzes by at breakneck speeds. Research shows that having routines in place can minimize anxiety and calm you down.
By the end of a seemingly ceaseless workday, you may not realize what you forgot to give time and energy to. Often, it’s our self-care activities, personal interests, and relationships that take the back burner.
Routines force us to shift gears and make time for non-work activities. For sleeping and exercising, regular routines are hailed as the most effective strategies for yielding consistent, long-term benefits.
But what about scheduling specific times for things in your life outside of work?
Can you and your significant other commit to one, uninterrupted date night per week? Can you schedule 20 minutes before bed to practice that new language you’ve been wanting to learn? What about a daily afternoon walk when that drowsy, post-lunch brain fog sets in?
Routines and schedules remove added decisions to your life, hold you accountable to yourself, and help you put effort into personal goals on a consistent basis.
Craft a plan for the day ahead with the things you have to do and the things you want to do, then knock them down one by one.
3. Simplify Meals and Make them Healthier
Unless you view cooking as a therapeutic art that melts daily stress away, preparing healthy meals might be another time-consuming hassle in your day-to-day life.
Most of us desire to eat healthy as we know nutritious meals will fuel our bodies and minds and help us perform at our best throughout the day. But most of us also lack the time and knowledge to prepare tasty, balanced meals after a long workday.
Without a simple plan and the right components handy, you’ll be prone to munching on convenient, unhealthy snacks or spending exorbitant sums of money on eating out each week. Not to mention the added costs of meal delivery services.
Maybe this is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said: “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
A Small Plan For Big Rewards
Take one hour to sit down and research 3 dinner and 3 lunch recipes that are healthy, appetizing and take no longer than 20 minutes to prepare.
Then, save each meal in a note on your phone or in a recipes notebook. Next time you go to the grocery store, purchase all the necessary ingredients to make each meal.
For the first few weeks, you may spend more time than you’d like referencing step-by-step instructions, but soon you’ll be able to cook all 6 meals from memory and prepare them in a cinch.
This way, when you finish work but don’t want to dedicate your entire evening to cooking an elaborate meal, you’ll know exactly what to quickly prepare.
A Complete, Sippable Meal
Want an even easier way to have healthy meals on hand? Order a case of your favorite Soylent Complete Meal to store in your pantry, refrigerator, or even at the office. Each bottle contains a complete, balanced meal consisting of healthy macro and micronutrients that fuel your brain and body.
4. The Power of “Yes” and “No”
Your relationships, goals, self-care, and mental and physical health are critical elements of a healthy life and they deserve attention. But to give them the attention they deserve, you’ll have to calculate what you’re willing to say “yes” or “no” to.
Every day, we are faced with dozens of decisions inside and outside of work, and how we respond to them determines how we spend our time and what we accomplish.
When asked to take on an additional project at work, think honestly about your current workload and if you’re capable of delivering a quality, finished project within normal working hours.
If you can’t, are you willing to express this to your boss or co-worker and articulate legitimate reasons why you need to say no to the additional project?
When faced with personal decisions outside of work, practice self-compassion and ask yourself some form of these important questions written in this Fast Company article:
- If this opportunity didn’t come to me, would I seek it out myself?
- What makes saying “yes” to this meaningful to me? Am I excited by this, or am I doing this out of an external desire to please someone else?
- If I’m saying “yes” based on an external desire, what am I giving up by saying “yes”?