With a changing economy, more of us are choosing self-employment, leaving the structured, traditional 9-5 jobs so we can strive for a higher income, or flexibility for family time or ‘me time’. We are often willing to take risks for personal and professional gain. Instead of the typical 9-5 jobs, we often find ourselves constantly working to improve our businesses. It becomes much more than an eight -hour day and involves a variety of skills, including networking, public speaking, marketing, and keeping updated on the ever changing technology we rely on for our businesses.
Many of us grew up with work ethics geared toward working hard. Sayings like, “the early bird gets the worm”, “success is always after hard work”, “there is no substitute for hard work” were embedded in our minds and some of us actually felt guilty or inadequate if we didn’t work hard, long hours. We are now in a different era, where we have access to more information and quicker ways to connect with others, so we can actually get quite a bit of ‘work’ done in a shorter period of time. We can take better care of ourselves, avoid burnout, have time to do other things we love (even if you love your work), spend less time at work and more time with family and friends. Here are some ways you can balance your work and play time so you can be more focused, productive, and overall healthier and happier:
Plan ahead: I can’t say enough about planning when it comes to saving time and energy. I often use the quote, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When you plan ahead, you have a better idea of how you are going to spend your time on a task and how long the task may take. Planning ahead gives you a vision of what you want to achieve and it allows you to prioritize what tasks need to be taken care of first. This reduces the chance of feeling overwhelmed and of wasting precious time. So, make a list of what you want to accomplish, prioritize the tasks, and make sure you have access to what you need to complete the tasks.
Practice self-care: It’s difficult to function well throughout the day when you don’t take care of yourself. Restful sleep, healthy food and drink choices, work/life balance, and regular doses of physical activity are essential when it comes to functioning at your very best. You’ll find yourself more productive, more energetic and more focused, which means less time and frustration completing tasks.
Delegate: Part of self-care is being comfortable delegating work to others, and sharing responsibilities when able. Focus on your expertise and allow others to complete tasks in which they excel. If you are not tech savvy, don’t waste your valuable time figuring out some technical issue that can take you hours. Instead, ask someone who is strong in that area to help you. Acknowledge your strengths and your areas that aren’t very strong. Give yourself permission to ask others for help when you need it, or you can start feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
Focus on the time, not the task: Since you only have so much time in a day, the smartest approach to completing a task is keeping track of your time. When you track everything (including interruptions, breaks, checking and returning emails), you are able to obtain a clear picture of how you use your time during the day. You will also be able to notice which tasks are more important to finish first, which ones can be delegated, and how much time you want to spend on each task. Schedule certain times during the day to check email and return phone calls to reduce the amount of interruptions throughout the day which can waste a lot of time.
With a few small changes in your routine, you will find yourself spending more time on what you love to do by working smarter, not harder, and by enhancing your work/life balance.