Work-life balance is a term I hear all of the time. People refer to this tightrope walk of life as an impossible-to-reach ideal in one’s career. But to me, I believe that balance can be reached as soon as you realize you’re ready to make it happen.
Balance isn’t about allowing others to guide your path or dictate your schedule. Balance is up to you. So how do you actually achieve a work-life balance? I’m breaking down my 4 tips on how I’ve navigated my way to where I am today (and I love where I am, by the way!).
1. Analyze your finances and create a budget
For many people, a big hang-up they encounter that keeps them from actually reaching that work-life balance is finances. They may think they have to constantly work to make ends meet. And that might be true. But that also might not be.
Sit down and take a good, hard look at your current finances. What bills do you have to pay each month? What income are you currently bringing in? What type of lifestyle do you want to live and what financial stability can get you there? Write it down, track it all, and review your priorities.
If you want it all, something will probably have to give. It may not be realistic to say you want to work half the hours you work currently and have a lifestyle that requires double the budget. But if you can make some realistic sacrifices and plan a roadmap to get to that goal down the line, you can begin to experience a work-life balance that allows you to enjoy things outside of your job.
2. Calculate your hours/income needed to achieve your budget
So now that you have your financial needs outlined and in front of you, do the math to figure out your hours and income needed to get there. This is more than simply saying I need to work 40 hours/week to make that happen. If you’re looking for more personal time in your work-life balance, a higher paying job may be required. If you’re an entrepreneur who creates your own service prices, analyze what you’re actually taking home at the end of the day for the hours you invest in each project.
At the end of the day, your goal is to find a plan that accommodates those priorities. For me, this meant streamlining my services to ones I could make decent money off of, doing what I really loved, and working with clients who aligned with my values and outlook. Once I was able to align my pricing, services, and clients, I felt the work-life balance freedoms of adjusting my schedule, reducing unnecessary phone or video calls, and eliminating stressful services.
3. Set goals outside of work that you want to attain
Beyond work goals, set goals outside of work and figure out what your why is for wanting a healthier work-life balance. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family or have the flexibility to work remotely and travel more often.
Choose 3-5 goals that are attainable and measurable for the next 6-12 months. Now reflect on how to achieve them and determine a path to get you there.
4. Dive in and reassess often
Once you do the legwork of laying down your roadmap to your work-life balance, dive in and do the work. A work-life balance is so much more than feeling freedom to make your own hours or set aside extra cash. If you’re going to get there, you can’t forget to put in the work.
Work hard, acknowledge your goals, and evaluate where you are often. I assess my goals each month and create a tangible action list each week to help with small, repeatable habits that will continue to take me towards my goals.
Want some other helpful tips I’ve learned throughout the years?
- Turn off your email and put your phone away when you’re not working. The emails will be there tomorrow and I promise people will contact you if there is a real emergency. Take time to step back and relax, or detaching from work will become exceedingly impossible.
- Try a 4-day work week if possible. This was one of the best things I ever did in my career. Although I am back to 5 days a week currently, I had the chance to work 4-day work weeks for nearly 15 months. In this time, I learned that fewer hours meant actually working harder and staying more focused.
- Plan your schedule for the following week during the current week. What I really mean by this one is don’t waste your time on the weekend planning your workweek. Use your weekend to relax and unwind. If it’s possible to plan and schedule next week on the prior Friday, try this approach and see how it works for you.
- Use automations whenever you can. Depending on your industry and work, automations may or may not be possible to use. But simple things that make your life easier like scheduling out emails or creating canned email responses can save you time and take some “busy work” off of your plate.
Now, let’s get to work.