Our most precious resource isn’t money, or gold, or oil – it’s time. Time is unlike most things in that it cannot be created, reused, or saved. We go through a limited supply on a daily basis, usually, wishing there was more of it.
This always feels especially true around the holidays. After years of cramming holiday shopping, home decorating, card writing, and cookie eating (that’s the fun part) into an already packed schedule, becoming burnt-out doesn't just feel easy to do, it feels inevitable.
The solution to this dilemma isn’t to search for more time, (although if you do discover the secret let me know), it’s to search for ways to maximize your time. The common misconception here, is we often assume that maximizing our time is all about finding ways to multi-task or increase productivity. However, if that is our only objective, we are bound to burnout again and again. The fact is, maximizing our time also requires intention and balance.
We are usually so focused on how much time we have and what to do with that time, that we often forget to think about how we want to feel after that time is spent. Personally, I want to feel fulfilled, rested, healthy, and connected. How would you like to feel at the end of every day?
Achieving harmony amidst the messiness of life isn’t easy, but the additional and deliberate thought we can put behind how we choose to use our time and the purpose of those activities will greatly improve the balance we feel at home and in the office.
Here are a few ways, courtesy of Forbes, that you can begin to find the Holy Grail, better known as work-life balance.
1. Let go of perfectionism.
“The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism, says Puder-York. “As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going,” she says, adding that the healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.”
“Make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will develop a stronger habit of resilience. “Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,” says Brooks, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.”
3. Exercise and meditate.
"Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Puder-York recommends dedicating a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it’s exercise, yoga or meditation.
“When I talk about balance, not everything has to be the completion and achievement of a task, it also has to include self-care so that your body, mind and soul are being refreshed,” says Puder-York."4. Limit time-wasting activities and people.
"First, identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.
If you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Cornered every morning by the office chatterbox? Politely excuse yourself. Drinks with the work gang the night before a busy, important day? Bow out and get a good night sleep. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.
To some, this may seem selfish. “But it isn’t selfish,” says Robinson. “It’s that whole airplane metaphor. If you have a child, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, not on the child.” When it comes to being a good friend, spouse, parent or worker, “the better you are yourself, the better you are going to be in all those areas as well.”5. Change the structure of your life.
"Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier?
Instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Delegating can be a win-win situation, says Stewart Freidman, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. Freidman recommends talking to the “key stakeholders” in different areas of your life, which could include employees or colleagues at work, a spouse or a partner in a community project. “Find out what you can do to let go in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow,” he says. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities."6. Start small. Build from there.
"We’ve all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year’s resolutions we forget by February. It’s the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly, says Brooks. Many of his workaholic clients commit to drastic changes: cutting their hours from 80 hours a week to 40, bumping up their daily run from zero miles a day to five miles a day. It’s a recipe for failure, says Brooks.
“If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there,” says Brooks."
We agree with Brooks, start small, create habits, and positive change will follow.