This year I’ve really taken the time to evaluate my workday to see where I can improve. I found that “I have so much to do that I can’t possibly get it done in an 8-hour workday.” That was the excuse I gave myself for working at night and on the weekends. But if I really wanted to focus on having a good balance, I needed to make sure my work-life was in order so I can actually focus on my life-life after hours.
This year I’ve really focused on:
Staying on top of my inbox
Prioritizing my day
Utilizing productivity tools
Creating Work-free zones
Finding things that truly make me happy outside of work
Sounds great, but what am I actually doing? What are some of the actionable things that I’m currently doing to achieve better work-life balance?
I’ll break it down:
I stay on top of my inbox.
Hands down for me, this is the most important task. It’s so easy to get lost in my email since I’m responsible for project coordination at ReThinc. I start my day by quickly deleting any email that isn’t work-related. I do this at home before I head to the office. It’s a quick 15-second scan in the morning while I’m making my coffee. That way when I get to the office, I’ve turned that inbox of 30 something down to 12ish and can go from there. I won’t go into all my email details because I’ve done that before, you can read it here. And I recommend you do – inbox zero has been a game-changer for me and my
boss, husband, employee.
I am prioritizing my day.
I have found that I am most productive in the morning. A caffeine-fueled brain helps me tackle larger projects early in the morning.
I typically schedule my calls for the afternoon. This is where I can create an ongoing task list of projects that need to be completed in a timely manner. This is where prioritizing things really come in handy as everyone seems to need everything yesterday. Thankfully, responsive staff and solid project management software help me to clock out by 6pm most days.
The next best thing I’ve ever done (next to marrying my boss, husband, employee) is to create one meeting-free day each week. I do everything I can not to schedule meetings on Thursdays. It’s my one day a week to get caught up if I’m behind, read all those emails I’ve filed, make progress on a big project, or help some of my coworkers out with what they have on their plate.
Thursday was a strategic choice. Oftentimes, the first 3 days are always super busy so having a meeting-free Thursday is perfect for me to get caught up and be ready for all of my Friday tasks.
I am utilizing productivity tools.
We utilize a lot of different tools at ReThinc, but my favorite two are Trello and Google Workspace. I LOVE these tools for what they do to make my project management work that much easier. I could go on forever about these two, so I’ll just pick one aspect I’ve worked on.
I’ve created a consolidated calendar, which might sound counterintuitive, but keeping one calendar that has both my work obligations and my social schedule helps me not to overbook myself. Housing all of my events in one location allows me to maintain better control of my work-life balance.
My calendar also syncs with Slack, our internal chat system, so my coworkers can see when I’m available. I also color code my appointments so at a quick glance I know what my day looks like (client phone call vs internal meeting vs client in-person meeting vs personal appointment).
I’m not just focusing on my life at work, I’m also focusing on my life at home to help create balance.
I have designated “work-free” zones in my house.
When you marry your boss (and then become his boss) it’s impossible not to talk about work at home. Like an invisible fence that keeps your puppy from leaving your yard, I have created a metaphorical fence that prohibits work activity in specific areas of my home. We do have a home office and if work must be done, it is relegated to that room and that room only. That goes for both of us, me and my
boss, husband, employee.
I am dabbling in hobbies.
Working hard my whole life has lead me to develop a short attention span when it comes to hobbies. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found “that one thing” or, better stated, maybe it’s because I really love trying new things. Whatever the reasoning is, I’m trying lots of different activities these days. Some are constructive like learning Italian or playing tennis … others are just fun hobbies like making jewelry and digitizing a life’s worth of photographs.
Whatever the hobby of the day is for me, I’m enjoying them more because of how I’ve been able to create a solid work-life balance. I’m not stewing about work at night because I’m maximizing my work day. I have a structure that allows me to unplug at night and on weekends.
If you want help creating your own work-life balance or want to talk through ways of maximizing productivity in your work week, shoot me an email at email@example.com and let’s talk – I’m always happy to help (just not on Thursdays).