As modern technology has advanced, the magnitude of the associated benefits has been staggering. The ability to work from mobile devices, increased platform neutrality, improved productivity applications and the move to cloud-based tools have helped usher in a renaissance of productivity.
Unfortunately, one downside to this new era is an often unhealthy work-life balance.
Mobile devices may make it easier for employees to stay in touch and work on the go, but they also make it difficult, if not impossible, for employees and management, alike, to “unplug” at the end of the day.
The Mental Health Foundation, the U.K.’s leading mental health research charity, estimates “that nearly three in every ten employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year” and that “work-related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year.”
In light of these dangers, how can you take back your work-life balance?
One of the most important steps to restoring work-life balance is making time for life. What do we mean when we say life?
Writing for WebMD, Jen Uscher advises:
“When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge. If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don’t have to cancel.”
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is not setting priorities. Without clearly established priorities, a person can find themselves rushing from one thing to another, always reacting to the situations and circumstances around them.
Writing for U.S. News, Karen Burns says:
“Be ruthless about setting priorities. Make sure that what you think is important is really important. Learn to differentiate between the important and the urgent. What’s important is not always urgent. What’s urgent is not always important.”
Delegate (and learn to say ‘No’!)
We don’t need to tell you twice: delegating tasks is a necessity. Too often we tend to tackle too much on our own. The result can be subpar performance and a quick path to burnout.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “close to half of the 332 companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ delegation skills. At the same time, only 28 percent of those companies offered any training on the topic.”
Instead, learn to determine what really needs your touch versus what can be handled by others. It could be that with a little direction and encouragement, others on your team may be able to significantly reduce your workload.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where to start, use this recommendation from Brightpod as a good rule of thumb:
“Delegation works best only when you have set up proper quality standards and a fair timeline for task achievement. Otherwise you will end up expecting Picasso efforts from a team who doesn’t know the difference between a Picasso and child art.”
Schedule. Prioritize. Delegate.
What do these steps have in common? They all involve being organized and properly tracking your time.
Although it may seem counter-productive, effective time management is often the key to restoring a positive work-life balance.
With proper time management, you can more effectively keep track of how you are spending your time and what is taking up most of it. This can help to schedule downtime, to properly prioritize and delegate necessary tasks.
It can also help you monitor your progress, as well as recognize areas where continued effort is needed. Whether you prefer Kanban, the Pomodoro Technique, or a good old-fashioned planner, proper time tracking can make all the difference in establishing a healthy work-life balance.
Remember: you should work to live … not live to work.