The best tip for nailing that work-life balance? Know that you’ll never get it down perfectly. It’s truly a balancing act and, just like trying to be steady on a workout ball, you might get a few seconds of ideal balance but you’ll usually be wobbling from one side to another—and that’s okay. It’s the journey towards balance, not the actual destination, that you’re really after. Still, a lot of people end up leaning very heavily towards one side or the other.
Get a little more balance by following these tips. Don’t worry if you get a little too life- or work-heavy from time to time. Just make sure you acknowledge it and make a conscious effort to get back to achieving a balance:
Give yourself time outs: Usually, this is most applicable to “workhorses,” but may apply to procrastinators and dreamers as well. If you catch yourself getting too immersed in work or life, stop, re-assess, and force yourself to take a break. For instance, if you’re guilty of checking your work email during date night, you may need to put your phone on airplane mode and leave it in another room.
Write down what’s most important: Cap the list at ten (five is even better) and write down the most important things in your life. It’s alright if one of those items is your career, but related items shouldn’t dominate the list. Keep that list with you and reflect on it whenever you feel a little one-sided.
Make time to work out: Yes, working out is a priority just like your family and career, with the added bonus that it helps you strengthen both of those relationships. Put it in your calendar if you have to.
Stop doing what’s unnecessary and what you dread: There are some things that have to be done, like laundry, that nobody likes. However, many people feel like they “have to” do some things (like maintain friendships) that are no longer viable. Cut off the dead weight.
Or make the most of commutes: Can’t get out of that long drive? Make it a positive experience. Take a new form of public transportation, bike there when you can, or listen to an audio book. Work towards minimizing commute stress.
Practice active listening: It’s much harder than you think! It’s more than just nodding along, too. With a loved one, sit side by side (eyes closed is fine) while one person simply talks and the other listens, saying nothing. It’s a great way to reconnect and only takes a couple of minutes.
Track your time: For at least one week, write down everything you do in a day, noting if it’s work- or fun-based. You’ll quickly see if there are any dangerous trends and probably will find a lot of wasted time you can make better use of.
Learn to say no: Americans are really good at saying yes—yes to working late, taking on more work, and other things that aren’t healthy. Put yourself and your loved ones first more often.
Define your regrets: If you were given 24 hours to live, right now, what would you regret? Write down those regrets. You’ll be able to quickly identify what really matters and start working towards those goals.
Work-life balance is far from easy and something everyone struggles with, whether they’re a CEO, stay at home parent, or entrepreneur. However, you can get closer to balance. It takes conscious dedication, and today is a great day to start.