4 Ways to Build Work/Life Balance Into Your Daily Routine
With all the demands of a hectic work schedule, it can be difficult to carve out time for your personal life, not to mention self-care. Having a cell phone often means you are expected to be available at all times. But being “on” for work 24/7 requires you to be put aside your other needs, and it’s all too common to experience burnout, while you sacrifice the things that make you happy. Here are some ways to find balance and incorporate more happiness, even with that cell phone by your side.
Set expectations about availability.
Michelle Czernin von Chudenitz Morzin, founder and president of Popular Press Media Group, switched from being a film producer to owning a PR firm to create more balance in her life. Given the demands of being a service provider responding to the endless stream of media, that turned out to be a huge challenge. To keep personal and family time from being overtaken by work, she had to set boundaries, which she sticks to unless she is in the middle of an event. “For the first time in this career, I am now gently forthcoming on availability from the outset. Communication is kept primarily to ‘banker’s hours’ (8am – 6pm), Monday to Friday.” She adds, “Our clients have been lovely and respectful. Interestingly enough, the parameters create a more structured working environment and I have found we are more effective in the time that we allot.”
Change small things.
If you’re unhappy with your daily routine or feel like you’re having a mental block, switch things up in a big way by changing some small details. Nora Herting and Heather Willems, authors and co-founders of graphic recording agency, ImageThink, have great advice for slightly shifting your perspective: “Try arriving to work a half an hour early or taking a different route. How do you process information differently when you write with a brightly colored pen versus typing? Simply moving things around on your desk could help you see and think about your project differently.” These small changes can cause cracks in your routine, say the pair, breaking down the brick wall a mental block causes. You can also try working in a new space, like a quiet coffee shop or a nearby co-working space, suggests Nisha Garigarn, founder of Croissant (an app that gives users access to co-working hotspots). “Stimulate your creativity and make work more of an experience.”
Make (some) personal time non-negotiable.
Sometimes, our impulse is to jump at every important meeting or phone call even if it eats into the time we’ve carefully carved out for our own enjoyment and happiness. By establishing at least one block of time per week as non-negotiable personal time, you’re upholding a contract to yourself. “Every Tuesday morning, I cook breakfast for myself,” says Garigarn. “It doesn’t matter if the most important investor wants to meet for coffee. I’ve told myself that Tuesday morning will always be made available for me to enjoy my morning without a rush—no exceptions.”
If your job affords you flexibility, establish a schedule that works for you. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting at a desk from 9 to 5. For Tiffany Kumar, Global Head of Songwriter Relations at Spotify, it means working in the morning and later in the day, and breaking for an afternoon hike. “This step back allows me to see a straight line to the company’s big picture goals,” she says. I have come up with some of my best ideas during a mid-day hike on Runyon Canyon.” These schedule changes can be difficult at first, particularly if you’re used to working round the clock, and if others are used to it too. But working smarter can enable you to work better, says Kumar. “I no longer have shame, because I know my contribution and what I need to be at my best. I just wish I knew more hardworking people that realized this. I have seen too many peers get burnt out after years of being absent from their home life and as a result quit a job they once loved. It doesn’t have to be that way. Balance is key.”