Yet how often does it stick?
How often do you feel like you actually achieve this most mystical of acts?
We’re no strangers to the struggle. Despite all the freedom of our #laptoplifestyle (yes, we’re using the hashtag ironically), we grapple with the balancing act as much as the next person. Most of the lessons we’ve learnt the hard way:
By getting it totally wrong.
But we lost sight of the bigger picture – living our lives.
By the end of 2017, we were burnt out, demotivated, and on the brink of packing it all in. It sucked.
We reached a crossroads – let things continue the way they were and run ourselves into the ground. Or take a stand and start living our life more.
We Chose Life
Fast forward to now, and life is pretty rockin’.
After 5 years engaged, we finally got married. We took our longest holiday since starting the business. Chilling on the beach with friends and family in Thailand before heading to Maui for our honeymoon. We relocated to Mexico, and now spend our days off (‘cause we actually take them) exploring nature reserves, ancient ruins, and local taquerias.
None of this happened by accident.
The good news is that achieving work life balance is actually kinda simple. Once you know what to focus on.
But it does require you to go beyond making vague sweeping statements such as, “We need to achieve better work life balance” (‘cause yeah, how’s that working out?).
You gotta make some actual commitments, and action them.
So to help you out, here’s six ready-to-go changes to focus on. Six tips that when implemented, will help you achieve work life balance. Straight from our life to yours.
achieve work life balance #1:
Stop Walking The Tightrope
OK. Before we go any further, let’s clear one thing up:
The idea of achieving work life balance often conjures up this idea of a well-oiled machine working in perfect harmony.
Unfortunately, life is not so straight-forward.
In the real world, ‘balance’ often looks like tipping wildly from one side to the other. Or at the very least, swaying gently back and forth.
Because the truth is this:
‘Perfect’ work life balance doesn’t actually exist.
And it’s not a state of equilibrium.
So let’s discard the notion that balance is ‘static’. Let’s release the goal of getting everything working ’exactly right’. ‘Cause that’s perfectionism, and it’s impossible to attain.
To put it another way: don’t be using ‘balance’ as a measuring stick to beat yourself up with.
There’ll be times when you hustle your face off – and that’s OK. Just make sure that it’s the exception, not the rule. And that it’s followed up with a healthy dose of chilling-the-fuck-out.
When you are in those times of hustle, embrace ‘Sustainable Madness’.
This is a concept we learned from our real-life fairy godmother – Nicole Cody.
Basically, if you know things are about to get crazy: it’s product launch time, taxes are due, or that deadline is coming up – then think about ways you can mitigate the damage:
- Bulk-cook some nourishing meals so you’re not eating pizza, or starving, 24/7. (Or get onto those ready-to-cook delivery things so you’ve at least got the prep sorted).
- Book in a massage and make it non-negotiable.
- Make time for a 15 min walk each morning so you’re still exercising and getting some ‘rays.
There’ll be times when achieving work life balance feels waaaay off. But with a bit of creativity, you can come out the other side feeling like you crushed it. Instead of it crushing you.
achieve work life balance #2:
Plan & Save For The Big, Important Stuff
The ‘gonna-do’s’. The ‘one day’s’. The bucket list stuff. The experiences that you’ve always dreamed of having, but keep putting off. You know – the things that’ll bring real meaning and joy to your life.
They can be anything from skydiving to learning a new language. For many people, it’s travel. Whatever it is, they’re the things you’ll regret not doing when you’re lying on your deathbed.
When we say “this is shit is important”, it’s kinda impossible to overstate the case.
So pick four things that you’re ready to make happen. Like, decide, right now.
Next, create a realistic timeline and get planning. Research all the steps you need to take to make your Big Thing happen. Then start chipping away at them. Put together a budget, create a savings plan and stick to it.
If fiiiinally getting married and moving overseas has taught us anything about how to achieve work life balance, it’s this:
Make the plan. Work the plan.
Adjust as obstacles arise, but make sure you Keep. Going.
achieve work life balance #3:
Eat The Frog
On the days you wake up and get shit done, you feel like a total boss.
On the days you wake up, check your email, flange around and scroll Social Media, you feel like a loser.
And when you feel like a loser, that’s when things spiral out of control:
In an effort to feel more productive, you turn to ‘busy work’. And that ‘busy work’ never ends. Your day gets hijacked by other people’s agenda, instead of what’s truly important to you. You’re stuck on that Work Treadmill. Going nowhere fast and completely exhausting yourself in the process.
So as the saying goes: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.”
In other words – if you’ve got something important (and most likely challenging) to do, don’t put it off. Get it out of the way first thing, and you win.
Don’t get caught up in the busy-work. Don’t let everyone else decide your schedule. The emails and phone calls can wait. At least for a little bit. Spend the first hour of your day working on ‘the thing’ that’s going to make a difference.
There’ll always be more tasks. The to-do list never actually ends. To achieve work life balance, prioritise and do what truly matters, and do it first.
That way, when end of work time rolls around, you can pack up your things and walk away. The rest can wait. Living your life shouldn’t.
achieve work life balance #4:
Non-Negotiable Time Off
Speaking of living your life… Get protective about your days off. Like lioness-defending-her-cub kinda protective.
Plenty of people argue that work shouldn’t feel like work. That you should find something you love so much that you want to do it in your spare time. That you should be living your purpose, and not just living for your weekends.
Sure. We’re all for that. If you’ve found a way to combine your passion with work, go rock the hell out of that.
AND, if you do it all the time you’re gonna burn the fuck out. Even if you completely LOVE what you do, you still need to switch off.
We’re speaking from experience here.
Purpose and drive are great. But there’s more to life than work. You need clear ON time, and clear OFF time. Be productive and focused when it’s time for work. Switch off when it’s not. Blur those boundaries and EVERYTHING starts to feel like work.
Two things we do that help: meditation, and clearly defined work hours.
The first one speaks for itself. Meditate, and meditate often. Even if it’s only 5 minutes a day.
The next one is all about forward thinking. It’s so simple, but it’s been game-changing for us. Decide beforehand what time you’re going to finish work. Decide when you’re going to take days off. Decide when you’re going to have holidays.
And then? Stop. Working.
Put reminders in your calendar if you have to. Just make sure you do it.
Which brings us to one of the simplest ways to achieve work life balance….
achieve work life balance #5:
There’s no point having time off work if it doesn’t feel quality or replenishing.
One of the best ways to truly ‘switch off’ is to actually switch off.
Yep. Ain’t nothing ground-breaking here folks. Yet how often do you do it?
We’re talking no email. No social media. No screen time. Put all that shit on airplane mode. Or off altogether.
And the best thing to do with all that tech-free time? Get out into nature. Go for a walk. Play some sport. Read a book (Kindle tech-exception allowed). Even just lying around being bored is good for you.
So what’s the recommended tech-free dose?
Start with an hour a day, and anchor it to something that’s already in your routine to make it stick. To achieve work life balance, we like to make the first hour of our day tech-free. This means our mornings are spent on our terms and not someone else’s. Tech-free time after dinner works well too. Or the last hour before bed as you wind down for the day.
Tech-free weekends at least once a quarter also function like a wonderful ‘reset button’ too.
achieve work life balance #6:
Face to Face Connection
The real goal here isn’t just balancing hours in the work / life columns. It’s about increasing the joy and fulfilment in your life.
And one of the most soul-enriching, quality-of-life things you can do is to simply be with the people you love. Making time for your relationships is pretty much the ultimate way to achieve work life balance.
Whether it’s your bestie, your partner, your children, your parents, your siblings or your mastermind peeps – time spent with people who matter to you (for reals, not just online) is what counts.
‘Cause here’s the uncomfortable truth: when your life is out of balance, it’s your relationships that suffer the most. It ends friendships. It tears families apart. It ruins marriages.
We’ve seen it time and time again in our coaching practice: at the core of so much relationship dissatisfaction is the heart-breaking feeling that you’re not important to the person you love.
- Don’t let work be the reason you drift apart from the people who matter most to you.
- Don’t let your biggest regret be the moments you missed because you were too caught up at work.
- And don’t be one of those people that moans about another year having flown past while you continue going through the motions.
If you want to achieve work life balance, it boils down to this: are you making time to do what truly matters?
If the answer is no, it’s time to get real with yourself. Dedicate yourself to making life worthwhile and doing the things that matter most to you.
‘Cause life is happening now, and no one knows for sure if you’ll get another shot at it.
Reece Stockhausen & Jodie Milton have made improving people’s lives and relationships both their passion, and their career. With over 25 years experience in the Personal Development industry, and 8 years coaching singles and couples, their no-BS advice has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bustle, and HuffPost.
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