Image via Anatoli Styf/Shutterstock.com

3 Ways to Leverage Your Time to Restore Work-Life Balance

Determine your top life priorities and make sure you allocate the proper time investment to all of them.

When you care deeply about your career and receive a great deal of satisfaction from what you do, this phrase can become the mantra for your life: When in doubt, work.

Woke up early? Work. Just arrived home? Work! Free Saturday afternoon? Work.

In and of itself loving your work and being eager to get things done is a great quality. Ambition and a desire for excellence can take you far. But problems ensue when this mindset creates an overall sense of stress that you have never done enough and guilt whenever you engage in activities other than work.

According to a Polaris Marketing Research poll, 42 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds reported feeling very stressed, and 49 percent of female participants said their stress levels had increased in the last five years. That’s a problem.

During my first few years of owning a business, I struggled with this work-whenever-I-can mindset and overcame it. This led to me found Real Life E Time Coaching & Training to help others accomplish more with peace and confidence.  Through these experiences, I’ve discovered some key strategies for investing your time wisely so you succeed both on and off the job.

Here are some of my key tips for success.

Diversify Your Time Investments

Wanting to devote a significant amount of time and energy to your professional life makes sense when you have your eyes set on making a significant impact in your field. But if you don’t intentionally diversify your time investments, you may end up with an unnecessarily high-risk portfolio.

For example, I begin putting together my clients’ ideal schedule by blocking in time for sleep, exercise, and relationships. Often these activities get relegated to the “time left over once all my work is done.” However given the pace of work and life, this typically means they get entirely squeezed out or reduced to an inadequate number of hours.

Getting proper sleep and exercise not only makes you feel better, but can literally add productive years to your life. According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, participants who slept less than six hours per night had a 48 percent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15 percent greater chance of developing or dying from stroke.

Also, I’ll never forget when I sat in outplacement classes as a 21-year-old after having gotten laid off from my first job. All around me, people who had worked for their companies for 10… 20… 30… years lamented how they had sacrificed their health, their family, and their friends for the sake of their jobs and then been let go when they were no longer necessary. At that point, I vowed to make sure to invest in my relationships outside of work so that no matter what happened, I would have a safe place to land.

Bottom Line: Determine your top life priorities and make sure you allocate the proper time investment to all of them.

Invest Wisely & Deeply

A key element of making space in our life for both quality work and a healthy life outside the office is setting realistic expectations for ourselves and others. You have a better chance of leveraging the impact of your time when you put the most effort into your most important professional activities. Try these practical strategies for making this happen:

  • Determine the activities that will have the greatest impact on bringing you toward your goals, raising your professional profile, and advancing your career. Block in time for those on your schedule first.
  • Take note of what activities you do on a regular basis that don’t align with your goals and aren’t leading to any substantial results. If possible, stop doing them, delegate them, or spend less time on them so you can increase your investment in other activities. (If this involves committee work, try to cultivate a replacement or ask your boss about potential ways you could gracefully exit.)
  • Before accepting new responsibilities, evaluate them against what you currently have on your schedule. If they have a higher return on investment, consider accepting them but decreasing or eliminating your involvement in another task. If they don’t have a higher return on investment and you have a choice of whether to participate, thank the people who made the request for the offer but let them know that unfortunately you don’t have the time to fully invest yourself in this new project right now.

Although it may feel tempting to think that you’re a “slacker” for not saying, “Yes,” to every opportunity that comes your way, you’ll almost always end up more productive for focusing on what matters most. I don’t believe that everyone needs to limit themselves to a 40-hour workweek as a recent Inc Magazine article, “Why Working More Than 40 Hours a Week is Useless,” advocates. But I do believe that consistently putting in long hours dramatically decreases your productivity and motivation to make progress on what’s most important.

Bottom Line: Focus on your most important professional activities and evaluate the return on investment before taking on new commitments.

Set Up Automatic Time Investment

Once you’ve consciously decided to diversify your time investments and to focus on what’s most important, how do you actually stick to your plan when you face the temptation to stay just a few minutes longer or check your e-mail just one more time before bed?

As author Tony Schwartz explains in a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why You Need to Make Your Life More Automatic,” we have a very limited amount of willpower. These type of automatic time investment strategies provide the structure and motivation to keep you on track in the heat of the moment:

  • Make commitments to others that give you a reason to stop one activity and start something new. As Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, shares in her recent Inc interview, she leaves work at 5:30 p.m. so she can be at family dinner at 6 p.m. You could set up a similar type of system by making dinner commitments to family, friends, or your significant other.
  • Sign yourself up for healthy activities that keep you accountable. Purchasing a gym membership can give you some motivation to go work out, but signing up for a Zumba class at a specific time or meeting with a personal trainer on a regular basis is even better. These sorts of items make wellness a set part of your schedule.
  • Use technology to your advantage by installing a program on your computer that will start automatic shut-down at the time you designate so that you’re less tempted to get more screen time instead of going to bed.

Bottom Line: Make commitments that reinforce your ideal time investments when your willpower is high so that you’ll follow through when your willpower is low.

With these time investment strategies, you should have an easier time of creating a well-balanced and successful life. As with any sort of investment, be sure to rebalance on a regular basis, such as every three to six months so that you keep your life on track for the greatest success.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress and is the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training. For more time investment tips, check out www.ScheduleMakeover.com.

(Image via Anatoli Styf/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.