3 Scheduling Tips to Achieve Work-life Balance
What role does scheduling play in work-life balance?
We all know that time is one of the most in-flexible resources that we have. It passes no matter what circumstances we are in. Most of the conflicts in our life and work, or for that matter anything, is caused primarily due to mismanagement of the time at our disposal.
What is a sure way to ensure that we make the most out of our work without having to sacrifice our personal life?
The answer is – Scheduling.
We all make grandiose plans, but scheduling helps execute them on time. Scheduling helps you to decide your priorities and allocate your resources accordingly. It also helps you to stay committed to what is essential, important, and legitimate, and stop grinding ourselves to exhaustion.
A carefully crafted schedule can help you avoid the following pitfalls that can have an adverse effect on your work-life balance:
- Do two or more things at once
- Make your job your life
- Prey on your own mind by overworking
Here are the three proven tips that will help us to stay satisfied, both in work and in life.
Tip #1: Identify and block time for each aspect of your personal life
Scheduling in our personal life is as important as it is in our professional life. How can we implement it successfully? Here is a proven 2-step guide:
Step 1: Take time to assess your personal priorities
What do we mean by personal life? Anything and everything outside of your work, career, and business are categorized as personal. Unlike your professional life, personal life is under your control, and how you prioritize it decides whether you make it or break it. How can you assess your personal priorities? By making a list of all of the aspects that lead to personal happiness, such as:
- Personal well-being
- Entertainment and leisure time
- Fitness and health
We need to ask ourselves: How much time am I allocating to the above aspects of my personal life? Do these aspects form a core of personal life, or are they the add-ons that I prefer only when necessary.
The importance of assessing your personal life was given by Tony Jeary, a top business strategist in an interview to Success Magazine, August 2017 edition. When he was asked to give some quick leadership tips, he told, “Take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep enough, and exercise regularly.
Even top executives stress that personal well-being is the answer to success. Now that we have ascertained the important aspects of our personal lives, let’s see how we can schedule a time for it
Step 2: Create a schedule to dedicate time to all personal aspects
The main purpose of a schedule is to free you from all potential distractions. The main thing to remember while scheduling is that we have different levels of energy during different times of the day, and hence it is best to prioritize our activities accordingly. Divide your day into morning, afternoon, and evening and assign one personal task in each section. For e.g.
Morning: Exercise, Running, Workout: Time 6:30 AM – 7:30 AM
Afternoon: Call Family during break: Time: 1:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Evening: Play with family/children/self: Time: 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Once you have crafted a schedule, use some basic tools to imbibe them in your life:
- Write it on a fancy color paper and stick it on your wall, on the door, or your fridge.
- Use a pinboard to pin your schedule, or put it on your fridge using magnets
Since this is your personal life schedule, make it more attractive and colorful, and remember – don’t try to make it a perfect schedule, rather, make it a workable one. Now that you are ready with your personal schedule, it's time to move on to your professional life.
Tip #2: Use effective scheduling in your professional life
We are all working towards having a sustainable career that not only gives us satisfaction but leads to financial security. What we do in our professional life dictates how we live our personal life. While we need to be organized and focused, we don’t want to make a monster out of our career goals.
In the pursuit of financial well-being, many people have happily embraced an imbalance in their work-life. Proper scheduling helps us to stay out of the hamster wheel and keep control of our time.
Efficient scheduling saves us from the following:
- Obsessively checking your emails
- Packing your day with pointless meetings
- Unnecessary conversations with workmates
How can we use scheduling to improve productivity at work?
Identify areas where you can work smarter
Researchers have studied that an average individual checks his email 36 times in an hour; just to be sure that he has not missed any. Each time when a person checks email, he tends to get distracted. In the same study, researchers found that an average employee attends 63 meetings in a month, out of which half are unnecessary.
If your office tasks are filled with unnecessary stuff, then it’s time to refocus and concentrate on identifying areas where you can work smarter. The best thing to beat this problem is:
- Use any online team workspace which doubles as a schedule
- Set time throughout the day for checking your email
- Be productive in meetings by preparing well.
Start your day with a practical to-do list
The following activities will help in this regard:
- Prepare a to-do list and start the list with the top three biggest tasks that you want to accomplish today. While working on those tasks, remove all distractions.
- It's human nature to feel less energized in the afternoon, and hence schedule all mundane tasks and non-critical meetings in the afternoon.
- Make all crucial plans and work reviews in the evening.
The to-do list is completely dependent upon your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural internal process that controls your sleep-wake cycle and your biological processes.
Take time to unplug
A Monster Worldwide survey stated that around 81% of people fell that they get burned out in their existing jobs. What’s the reason? Rigid schedules, relentless meetings, unending emails, voicemails, etc. Going through the motions of work can exact a heavy toll on our physical and mental health. Take the following measures to unplug from work:
- Set regular break intervals in between-your work
- Schedule short vacations during the weekend and longer ones at equal quarters (According to an Expedia study, out of 15 vacation days, each American just takes 12 days, thus failing to take 375 million days in a year overall)
- Try to do one task at a time. Avoid the stress of multitasking
- Use time blocking calendars to divide your work efficiently and include learning time in between
Once you have designed the necessary schedules for your personal and professional life, it’s time to infuse technology to make it more effective.
Tip #3: Strike the balance: Manage your time smartly and efficiently using technology
We are living in an age where we can use technology to improve our productivity, time management, and level-up our skills and talents. Technology can make things easier and can be an important catalyst in achieving work-life balance. Here’s how.
Technology helps you to manage your time
Stephen Covey famously said:
“Time management is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”
Technology can help us achieve the goal to value every moment that we spend. A number of time management apps have been developed that can not only squeeze productivity out of your office hours, but also when you are at home, on a vacation, or even while sleeping. At the office, use business apps that work on your hard drive, and at home use personalized apps like Evernote, Wunderlist, Todoist, etc. This article will help you select one that suits your needs.
Another good platform that helps you take stock of your habits and goals and align them to your overall personal well-being is Habitify. It provides a user-friendly, hands-on app that helps you track your time, and schedule your activities in an efficient manner. It might work as a giant todo list, a collaborative journal, and a calendar that helps you complete your time-based activities.
SEE ALSO: The Most Unique Uses of Habitify
Technology helps you remain active even during breaks
A new concept of ‘techno-breaks’ is being used across many organizations that involve using technology during your free time to make yourself more productive. You can use a variety of apps during your break times to keep you engaged with the current affairs and keep your mind healthy. You can use audiobooks, reading apps, or listen to calm music to keep yourself mentally healthy.
Another best way to boost your productivity using technology is the 52/17 rule. According to this rule, an average productive person works straight for 52 minutes, before taking a break for 17 minutes. During these 52 minutes, you need to remain the most productive. Use 100% dedication during your 52 minutes. But if you find yourself difficult to stay on for 52 minutes, then another technique will help you.
The Pomodoro Method
According to this technique, break your work into 25-minute chunks and then take a break for 5 minutes. There are also Pomodoro Apps in which you can set your task and the app will ring after 25 minutes. Use the 5-minute break to rest, check email, or do any other stuff to relax.
All the above techniques that we suggested are to ensure that you strike the right balance between your work and life using technology. If we fail in doing that, then the words of Brigid Schulte will ring true:
“If you don’t strike the right balance between work and life, you will end up embracing the imbalance.”
We are in control of our life. The ultimate responsibility to manage our time, resources, and energy lies with us. If we are well-organized in our personal life, it will reflect in our workplace too. Rather than running after what is urgent, we need to run after what is important. Finally, what we do with our time will help us achieve all our goals in life.
Many have made the mistake of making their career their life. However, a wise thing to remember is, if we fail in our career, it may not hit us hard. But if we fail in life or relationship, it will.
Life is short, and the best results will be achieved only if we get our act together and start now. The burning question is - are you ready to take your best foot forward to follow the above recommendations? If you are, we are sure they will add years to your life.