22 Expert Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance

22 Expert Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance

By Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

It's about time management

Balancing your career and your family life presents a challenge for many people. Both deserve your time and, in many ways, you work in order to make things better for your family.

Achieving balance requires being active. You need to make sure you manage home and work in order to succeed at both. That's not easy, but it's possible. These tips should help you.



1. Be aware


It's easy to neglect your family and yourself in favor of work. It's also possible to do the reverse. To avoid cheating either side you need to actively think about what you're doing. That's not a solution, but it's a first step to owning the problem.



2. Don't work just to work


Are you always the first to get to the office and the last to leave? Do you really need to be?

Consider whether you gain anything from your time at the office. Don't work just to work or because it's your reputation. Make your time at the office matter.



3. Are you doing the right family things?


Your family needs you around but if you have a demanding job you may have to make choices. Talk with your significant other and kids about which time spent with you means the most and try to deliver those experiences.



4. Put your phone down


The world probably won't end if you don't respond to a text message, Slack, or email immediately. When you're home, limit how often you check your phone. Try to put the phone down completely at meal times or during family events.

If you're in the middle of a deadline or doing something that requires vigilance then, of course, check, but at all other times it's best to limit and be present.



5. Have dedicated family time


Whether it's dinner, weekends, or something else, make sure that you schedule dedicated family time and try very hard to stick to it. Make these days or at least hours when your family comes over everything except huge emergencies.



6. Learn to say no


It's not easy but sometimes you have to say no at work. That might mean turning down a meeting or opting out of a project that you truly don't have time for. Don't be a jerk or not be willing to help out. Just remember that saying no is allowed and sometimes it's the right thing to do.



7. Schedule work when at home


If you have older kids it might make sense to plan on working while they do their homework or when they're at an extracurricular event. Try to schedule your at-home work for when it least impacts your family.



8. Go to the important events


If you have kids and they have activities that mean a lot to them, it's important to be there. Whether that's a sporting event, a school play, or something else, make sure you make the big moments even if it means making up the time at work.



9. Take time off


You don't always have to take a big trip, but it's very important to take time off and actually relax. Even if you just stay home or take local trips, divorce yourself from work and focus on yourself and your family.



10. Find a good company


It's not always easy but when you're looking for a job try to find a company that values work/life balance. You want someplace with a track record of treating workers like people and caring about their lives beyond the office.



11. Have one-on-one time


Whether it's date night with your significant other or one-on-one time with the kids, make sure you plan to spend time alone with the people important to you. It could just be watching a favorite show or taking a walk, but make sure it happens.



12. Make work friends


If people like you at work they'll help you out when you need a favor. Be someone who does that for others and your coworkers should be willing to help you.

That should make it so you can find someone to cover when you need to spend time with your family. Good coworkers help each other. Give of yourself, but be willing to take help when you need it.



13. Find a hobby


Find something you like to do -- an activity or a sport -- and make time to do it each week. It doesn't really matter what the activity is, just that you enjoy it and take time to participate in it.



14. Take full weekends off


Work has found a way to creep into the weekends and that's hard for many people to avoid. Because of that, make sure you schedule some weekends when you're simply not free and let your boss know. If you're off camping or visiting a different city it's easier to put work behind you.



15. Have dedicated home-office space


Create a work area in your home and try to only work there. Make it clear to your family when you're in that space that you're not to be bothered and try to be as efficient as possible.



16. Work when it won't be noticed


Do you get up early or stay up later than the rest of the family? Are there times where everyone else is generally busy? Use those times to get some work in when it won't impact the time you spend with other people.



17. Hit the gym


It's hard to work while you're pumping iron or sweating on a treadmill. The same is true of a yoga or spin class. Planning some gym time forces you to leave work behind. It's good for the brain and the body.



18. Set priorities


There are only so many hours in the day. Go into yours with a plan for the work things you need to get done and the personal things you hope to accomplish. Be realistic and understand that some days work will get more time (but try to make sure that your personal life gets some priority days too).



19. Have set hours


You may not work 9-5 and some days you may stay late even if you have set hours, but how do you know it's late if you don't set a standard? Work the amount of hours your company expects and if things are looser just be consistent. If you know when you're "supposed" to leave in a given day it's easier to do so.



20. Ask for help


Everyone gets buried and needs help. Not everyone asks for it. Don't be a hero and dig yourself out. If there's too much on your plate, ask for help.



21. Know yourself


Do you get more done during the day or at night? Do you need breaks or excess caffeine? Figure out how you work best and try to structure your day in a way that allows that to happen.



22. Take personal breaks


Sometimes the best personal moments are the stolen ones. Maybe that's a coffee meeting with a friend or lunch with a family member. Find ways to work some personal time into your workday (since work is almost certainly finding its way into your down time).

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