Time Management Tips for Work-Life Balance

Jul 12, 2019 | Optimize Life, Time Managment

We live in a time where we are constantly connected to each other, or can be in a matter of seconds. It’s no wonder, then, that we place such a high priority on learning some time management for work-life balance.

Employers are even having to make policy changes to better respect hourly employee’s time “off-the-clock.”

However, even with company help, this balancing act can be tricky to perfect.

Those who are self-employed, work at home parents, remote contractors, and many others find that work-life balance becomes more and more blurred without proper time management.

No matter your work situation, here are some long-tested time mangement tips to achieve work-life balance.

 

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Find Work-Life Balance with Good Time Management

 

 01| Set a Schedule

Writing down a basic schedule is a great place to start with time management for work-life balance. Take a look at your week overview and block out time for general activities. Ask yourself:

  •  When do I wake up during the week? During weekends?
  • What does my morning routine consist of? (Needing help with your morning routine, check out these routines for increased productivity + happiness)
  • When do I start work? When do I end?
  • What time are breaks? Lunch? Making Dinner?
  • Does my family have consistent weekly activities?
  • When do I want some recoup time?

Then, after you get your basic weekly schedule, start each day with a plan. Take 10-30 minutes detailing your work to-do, home to-do, family to-do, etc. Personally, I work this into my morning routine, and plan my day each morning (you can download my morning routine Plan for the Day below). Some people prefer to plan their entire week on a single day.

Whatever works best for you, as long as you have a plan.

Planning reduces time wasted on thinking “what do I do next?” or “should I be doing something else?” When you make the best use of work time, leaving work at work becomes much easier. Make your plan and stick to it.

If you’re in need of an AMAZING planner, I highly recommend the Day Designer Planner! Not quite sure what it is about? Here is a review about why I think this is the best planner ever!

02| Know Your Peak Hours

Knowing your peak hours means knowing when you are at your best and most productive. Understanding this is vital when setting up your schedule for maximum time management for work-life balance.

Can you knock out your to-do list like no other from 8-10?

Do you hit a slump from 3:30-4:30?

Does your brain turn back on go mode from 10-11 at night?

Try to schedule focus intensive tasks when you’re at your peak productivity. Then, schedule mindless tasks during your slump. If you have a productive off-work time, try knocking out house chores and to-dos during then. The better you can utilize your peak hours, the better time management you will experience in finding your work-life balance.

 

03| Minimize Distractions During Work

Distractions are a time management killer.

They suck us into a wormhole of wasted time.

You might think I’m being a bit dramatic. But, when was the last time you played some silly game on your phone or sat down to watch one show on Netflix, only to look up as 3 HOURS have passed by without your notice.

My guess is you’ve experienced that within the last week.

Am I right?

I’m guilty of this, too. 

Everyone falls victim to distractions. We can’t eliminate distractions (considering my own brain is my biggest distraction yet), but we can do our best to minimize or limit distractions. 

At work, try setting timed intervals for checking email or set a notification to pop-up so you’re not constantly checking for new emails. Try writing down a 2-minute to-do list, these are go-to tasks for your slump time instead of browsing social media.

At home, set a timer for “chill” activities (social media, Netflix, game apps). When the timer goes off, that means it’s time to switch activities. Try doing something active or engaging. After all, you’re not trying to achieve work-life balance to waste your life zoned out!

For even more tips for the best time management ever, check out this post where I detail all my tips for being the boss of my time!

 

04| Delegate Tasks

Ever keep simple tasks on your to-do list to help yourself feel accomplished? 

While this is a great idea for getting out of a slump, if you’ve created a habit of filling each day with simple to-do tasks you might ask yourself a very important question:

”Does this easy task make a big impact?” 

If the answer is no, how about delegating those simple tasks? 

Letting control go might be difficult.

After all, we know that you’re a rockstar and can complete those tasks perfectly in a fraction of the time. 

Or, and bare with me here, you could be working on a task that ONLY YOU can do that will make a huge impact on your life, work, or whatever! 

Now that is stellar time management! 

 

05| Break Down Large Tasks

 On the other hand, if your to-do list is filled with too many large tasks, it’s likely that you’re underestimating how long it will take to complete them.

Underestimating our time leads to feeling the day wasn’t productive.

And (I for sure know) feeling the day wasn’t productive leads to a slump of unmotivated and blurring the work-life balance.

So, what do we do about it?

Break down those large tasks into bite size to-dos. Think about how long each smaller part will take to complete, and budget your time according to those. And not according to the large daunting task.

 

06| Value Your Time & Others Will Too

A huge time management tip for work-life balance is to respect your time.

And teach others to respect it, too.

Are you a work at home whatever that does some work on the sofa while folding 4 loads of laundry? Do you finish a little work during lunch time? How about answering emails between rounds of cards with the hubby?

All of these things blur the line between work and home.

If you think for a moment, consider the massive amount of tasks you can accomplish by valuing work time as work and home time and home. You’ll say on task more. You’ll cross to-dos off your list better. And you’ll be more present with those around you.

Sounds easy?

The hardest part is you. If you start to cave on what’s considered work and what isn’t, family, friends, and coworkers aren’t going to respect that time either. And it’s not nice for you to expect them to. After all, you yourself aren’t.

Afraid you won’t have the will power to stick to it? Give these tips a try on how to create a routine and actually stick with it!

 

07| Set Actual Work Hours

A time management tip that makes #6 so much simpler is set actual work hours.

Yup, I’m serious on this one.

Want Tuesday’s off, communicate that with your followers, coworkers, employees. Stipulate that you can be reached in the case of an emergency. Otherwise their problem, issue, or question will be addressed your next working day.

Think this can’t work for you?

I used to work with a retail company where the managers we basically “on-call” 24/7. Someone no-showed. The managers had to put out that fire. An order was messed up. The managers jumped into action again. Until, a manager I highly admire showed me their “work hours” and how she adheres to them. She wrote them out for all employees to see, with instructions on how + what situations to contact her outside those work hours.

See, she set an amazing example of valuing her time. And what’s better, her employees were in the position to better handle the situations themselves. They were problem solvers and solution creators.

 

08| Automate + Schedule Social Media for Business

Have you ever sat down just to get some chill time. You pull out your phone, hop over your Instagram, and don’t look up for an hour or two?

If you haven’t done that, I think you’re a cyborg.

Just saying…

That social media wormhole is no joke. And that’s why it’s included in these time management tips for work-life balance, because social media is super important for work these days. Most businesses have some social profile, and if you’re running your own business I’m sure you have several!

Instead of sucking time out of being productive during your work time, automate your posts through various programs. I use Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram and it has saved me many a time from the social media wormhole. Now, I can accomplish social media planning + posting in about 2 hours a week!

Check out Tailwind and you can even try it for a month completely FREE!

 

09| Do a Time Audit

 Frequently, how we spend our time and the way we actually spend our time are not the same.

In fact, they can be VERY different.

Perhaps you’re struggling to understand why your work is bleeding over to your home life. Or maybe you feel constantly busy, but hardly productive. That is when a time audit should be done.

A time audit takes a good look at how you actually spend your time through a variety of methods. Rescue Time has an incredible walk-through on doing a time audit, complete with worksheet and all! Otherwise, each of these audits can help you get a clearer understanding on where your time is being spent (or wasted):

  • Use any day planner with time increments. Each 30 minutes write down what you’re doing. Label them as Unimportant – Very Important
  • Set a timer for a random time in the morning (avoid normal intervals like 8 AM or 7:30 AM). Then have that timer go off in an hour. Write down exactly what you’re doing in that moment. Repeat this for a few days.

In both of these, the key here is honesty.

If you’re staring off into space imagining how nice a beach vacation would be, write that down!

Don’t write down what you’re “kinda” doing. As in, “I’m kinda working on writing this proposal. And I’m kinda creating this form.” That wouldn’t be an accurate time audit. Do you see how honesty is the only way to get a true time audit?!

 

10| Use In between Time to Complete Small Tasks

You might be wondering, what is “in-between time”?

I like to call time that falls between scheduled larger tasks my “in-between time”.

For example, say you start work at 8 AM but have a morning meeting at 8:30 AM. You get settled, prep for your meeting, walk to the conference room, and see it’s only 8:15 AM. What do you do now? Sit and browse Facebook? Shoot the breeze with a coworker?

Or, do you use this “in-between” time for something more productive? Could you get a head start on answering emails? Deliver a quote you’d have to do later? Use your new automated social media scheduler and que up some more posts?

When you add up the “in-between” time you have each day, you might be shocked to find how much time you’re wasting! If you have 4 of these moments in a day, you’re wasting a whole hour of your working time. That’s 12.5% of your 8 hour work day!

 

11| Take Proper Breaks During Work + Weekends

 Finally, I think it’s super important to mention how you manage your time outside of work to be more productive.

I’m sure at this point you’ve heard that we are more productive when we give ourselves proper breaks from work. That the 40-hour work week is a concept that we’ve outgrown for maximum productivity. So why are we just ignoring this information?!

Several companies provide breaks, are you “just finishing up something” on yours?

Are you in control of your schedule and think you can’t afford to take breaks while growing your biz?

No matter what the excuse, you’re not going to achieve good time management for work-life balance if you never give yourself a break.

Shocking concept, I know!

So do yourself and your business a favor, and take that 15 minute afternoon walk away from your phone. Have a hiatus day away from social media and business brainstorming during the weekend. Put down the phone while having dinner with your family. You’ll find the time you are at work, is so much more productive when you’re not playing the energizer bunny.

 

 

Last thoughts on Time Management for Work-Life Balance

I feel like I should caution (perhaps a little late in this post) that achieving work-life balance shouldn’t be a balance at all. Throughout this post we’ve been going over time management tips to stay productive at work and take breaks away during home time.

However, that isn’t the end goal.

Think of this, why do you want these two to be in balance? Personally, I’d rather have more life than work as my end goal!

Am I alone in this?

So, while these time management tips for work-life balance are a great place to start, I urge you to keep going. Keep finding more ways to enjoy your life, experience the adventures around you, and be happy with how you’ve lived!

If you have additional time management tips, I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful in the comments below!

And please share with anyone who might be overwhelmed with a skewed work-life balance.

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