How To Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Do you feel like you’re always working? Do you forget to shower or have lunch because it’s not clear where your workday ends and real life begins?

When that happens, you’re never getting the break you know you need in order to do your best. But, you may be thinking, there is so much to do. Everyone needs something, email never stops, and you like the feeling of being productive and available.

It’s a cycle many of us believe we thrive in. I’ve heard more than a few executives, business owners, and freelancers pride themselves on working all the time. As if this is what it means to be successful. Well, what better week to create more personal freedom by reinventing our work lives than when many of us are celebrating our independence?

The answer is a schedule

This is not your garden-variety schedule. It’s detailed and you’ll probably feel silly doing it until you realize it’s working. That’s what happened to me anyway.

First, create your ideal weekly schedule without taking into consideration anyone else’s needs. Ask yourself: What are my biggest priorities? This is important, so really go for it and be as specific as possible. Choose the time you like to wake up, what part of the days you have the most mental clarity, and when your favorite class is at the gym.

In mine, I scheduled mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks for a snack so I’m not starving at mealtimes. I also included the exact moment I put my pajamas on every night. It makes me happy when that moment rolls around.

Then, without judgment, see how your ideal schedule all fits together. Most of us have to shift wake up and bed times to accommodate how much sleep makes us feel the most rested. Remember, this is an ideal schedule, so it doesn’t have to be completely based in reality. It’s to get a sense of how you function so the real schedule will also reflect that.

Give yourself a reality check

When you’re done, move onto a second schedule including any required times, such as when your kids go to school or when your weekly team meeting takes place. Are there elements from your ideal schedule you can fit into this one?

That was a trick question. The answer is yes. Give yourself a reality check and see how your time can work better for you. For instance, if you concentrate better in the morning, can you move all your calls to later in the day? Can you not check email for the first hour you’re at your desk?

Then you get to live this new schedule for a week or two as an experiment to see how you feel. For me, I felt like I finally could be DONE and shut down my computer at the end of a workday. There was an end to it! I’d done enough because my schedule proved that I had. This process may feel like overkill, but this short-term surge of organization will work wonders.