How to live a more balanced work-life

It’s not about being balanced it’s about the journey to achieve it. Perfect balance doesn’t exist, it’s not about that. It’s about a realistic journey, a will to attain a better, healthier life: mentally and physically and perform at your best. Your business or your work or family, they all need you, they need the best of you… you need to be at your best. It just takes a bit of work. Consider the cost of ignoring it: fatigue, lost time with family and friends, poor health, depression, burnout…

Particularly entrepreneurs, we all know there are several business stages, and some of them demand more hustling and time. But the more it’s required from you, the more you need to be energized and mind sharp. This requires a mindset change that states: me time is as essential as work time. Me time can be family time, friends time, alone time, workout time… all of them, whatever makes sense to you. Me time is essential to create a more focused mind and happiness, both will make you better at what you do.

Check on yourself with a self-evaluation

Ask yourself:

  • Are you getting enough sleep, ensuring an energized day?
  • Are you working out regularly? Whatever working out means to you: yoga, vigorous walking, martial arts…
  • Are you taking breaks from work? Even if it’s on weekends, you need to disconnect.
  • Do you have a specific time of the day to disconnect from work? Even if it’s dinner time and/or before bedtime.
  • Do you have mechanisms to cope with stress? Do you use them regularly?
  • Do you have other interests aside from your work? Are you pursuing them regularly?
  • Are you enjoying leisure time outside work?

How can you be competitive with less hours of work?

We have all experienced lack of boundaries in our professional or personal life. Especially when we’re entrepreneurs, it’s extremely hard to dedicate self-time to ourselves because we tend to feel guilty for not hustling and getting back to work asap – but this behavior can lead to a burnout.

And how can we compete with less hours of work dedicated to our company or job and be more successful than our peers? That’s the question. The answer is: habit and intention. To keep ourselves energized, motivated, and psychologically balanced we need to create habits and intentionally keep them. You can see it like this: our body and mind need to store energy so that when it becomes parse you have somewhere to get it from.

Therefore, to be able to do regular non-work activities that energize our mind and bodies you need to plan and keep following the plan. A simple habit can take up to 3 months of regular practice to interiorize, and small habits are the only thing you need to practice with intention to be able to change your life. For instance, a walk in nature every day will have a huge impact on your life. An expensive weeklong vacation won’t make much of a difference in the long run. These small habits are the ones that will create a real change. Consequently, schedule leisure time, me time, and stick to it. Forget about spontaneity, it will not work in the long run.

Once a month have an honest conversation with yourself

Remember Marie Kondo asking: “does it spark joy?” At least once a month, for instance every Monday or every Sunday, take a few minutes for yourself and write down what were the small moments that sparked joy in your life: like a conversation with an old friend, a cooking lesson, a yoga class, a walk with your child in the park. After this, schedule these moments several times over the next month. After a while you will be able to get into the habit of doing what makes you genuinely happy, what gives you energy, removing what doesn’t, and live a more happy, balanced and successful life.

Time management

Smart time management is another essential item for a well-balanced life. Faster is not always better. Managing your time with balance is about how to, not how fast.

First, at work you need to prioritize your priorities. What actions do you need to get done to take care of your real priorities. This is a matter of writing down all your work priorities and listing all the actions that you need to do to get them done. After this, schedule all the actions. This will save you time because you will have everything planned, you’ll be less stressed and really focused on what you actually need to do.

Be truthful with your time

If you’re not sure how you spend your time, it’s easy: monitor a few of your days and write down everything you are doing and how much time you have spent on it. Be truthful with yourself and analyze if you are really focusing on what really matters.  Prioritizing what really needs to be done will allow you to take time for yourself.

Have you ever heard about the Eisenhower Matrix? You can use it for your work and in your personal life. Write down all your tasks and insert them in one of these hypothesis:

It’s simple and very efficient.

After this, start by planning what really needs to get done and schedule it. You can do this daily or/and weekly. You will realize that you don’t need to do everything today and that there are even some tasks you can eliminate.

If you don’t use an app or a program that can help you track the time you spend on your tasks, it’s time to do it now. It will save you time and free up time for you. When you have everything visually planned it will give you a sense of calm that is extremely hard to achieve when you don’t see your plan.

Stop wearing lack of sleep as a badge

That’s a thing of the past. Not sleeping is not something to brag about. You need to rest. No coffee, exercise, or peptalk can replace the benefits of a healthy night of sleep. Lack of sleep makes your brain vague and the smallest mishaps make you intensely cranky, low energy, low motivation, cognitive difficulties, lack of vocabulary, and it will lead you to commit more mistakes at work.

And while it might not kill you, it might put you in a situation where that might possibly happen, such as a car accident (you can read Sarah Wu’s story here), it also will make you prone to heart disease, strokes, obesity, depression, Type 2 diabetes, a weaker immune system.

We understand that it’s extremely hard for a recent mom to keep sleep on point. Babies and sleep often don’t go together. So, this situation will require a different type of managing, that we will discuss in another article.

Therefore, stick to a fairly regular sleep and wake schedule seven days a week, establish a routine from 30 to 60 minutes before bed to relax and not think about work; avoid stimulants like caffeine and intense exercise close to bedtime; forget about watching TV in bed and put away your best friend cellphone at least 60 minutes before going to bed.

Check yourself

It’s particularly important that we always keep asking ourselves, how are we feeling physically and mentally, and try to figure out why. We’re saying it again: everyday work time is as important as non-work time. If you treat it the same way, you will always have time for both. Once you feel you are not getting enough sleep, feeling anxious all the time, feeling brain fog, it’s time to stop and reboot. Don’t ignore these symptoms because they might lead you to a burnout.

Meditating every day might feel like a burden, but once you feel the real results, you will start to think otherwise. Ideally you should wake up with time to yourself. Wake up before the kids, even if it’s to take 15 minutes for yourself. Meditate if you can, breathe, relax, and don’t get on your phone or watch news or pay attention to anything that will get you stressed or put you in work mode. This me time is an essential energizing time.

These days remote work is increasingly common, so every couple of hours do a small task that will bring you joy: a walk with the dog, taking care of your plants, drink a hot cup of tea or watch the day outside.

Remember you have so much to be grateful for: write down a few things every day, even if it’s just one, that you are grateful for, remind yourself of what you have achieved so far, instead of what you haven’t, let that feeling run through you - and simply enjoy it.

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