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Tricks on how to maximize your time and achieve work-life balance

It's no secret—managing all the things you have to do as an adult is a challenge. From doing your best on the job to taking care of yourself (and, if you have them, your kids), trying to see friends and stay sane, we know you've got a lot on your plate.

And while it's up for debate whether you can "have it all," you certainly ought to be able to balance everything you've got and live a happy, fulfilling life. To help you out in that pursuit, read the tips below and start implementing some of them today!


 Managing Your Time 

The most game-changing advice we’ve gotten is this: ‘If you’re truly going to act on your priorities, you need to dedicate time to them’. Try to create a calendar and mapped out your priorities. With time dedicated to each of your priorities: family time, exercise, work, and so forth. Start with the “BIG ROCKS” - the most important and least flexible responsibilities.

One of the biggest struggles is fitting it all in to 24 hours. To make time for hobbies, passions, and relationships outside of work, make sure to have a short version of what you ideally love to do for busy weeks. For example, have a nice long dinner with a friend, or during a busy week, try to catch a 45-minute coffee break with a friend during the day.

We need to elongate the time frame upon which we judge the balance in our life, but we need to elongate it without falling into the trap of the "I'll have a life after all of these, when my kids have left home, when my health is failing, I've got no mates or interests left." A day is too short; "after all of these, When?" is too long. There's got to be a middle way or a concrete plan.


 Taking Time for You 

It is important to remember that free time doesn't have to be available time. In other words, just because Wednesday night is empty on your calendar, doesn't mean you have to say "yes" when your co-worker asks you to go to an event with them. It’s important to remind yourself that you can turn invitations down for no other reason than you want that time to yourself, that your free time can be just that—free.

When we have a good chunk of time for ourselves,  We sometimes feel obligated to use it to get other things done, like errands or phone calls—but let us also learn that we use that time to truly reduce our stress level and do something totally for you “ME TIME”. A quick burst of exercise is a good method to calm your spinning head, or enjoy some light-hearted TV or an ice cream or coffee date with a friend. You could also spend an hour playing with your pets, indulging in the total silence of a library, or browsing for random treasures at a thrift store.


 Having a Social Life 

While you usually reserve fun things for the weekends, plan at least one enjoyable activity during the week. You'll be able to head into your work week with something to look forward to and have a way to blow off some steam if the week starts off too strong.

Schedule recurring social activities like a monthly book club or weekly dinner with your best friends. By having regular activities like this written into your calendar, you'll be able to plan around them (instead of planning your social life around work).


 Managing Work 

You’ll be hard pressed to find a boss who will object too much to you working on your off hours (unless she’s required to by law), but that same boss will be just as impressed if you can do the work in the eight (OK, 10) hours each day you’re there already. Make the most of the time you have in the office, and leave the rest for tomorrow.

If you start telling people you need to leave at a certain time, you’ll be much more likely to do so. Make the commitment to yourself, and then share it with others: As you discuss plans and assignments throughout the day, tell your colleagues, “I’ve got to be out of here on time tonight, so if you need something, let me know by 3 PM.” Try this method one day, then another, and then the next. Eventually, you’ll retrain your colleagues to expect you to leave on time every day.

Sometimes when you feel surrounded by work, it’s because, well, you’re surrounding yourself with work. So, be deliberate about taking time before work, after work, or on your lunch break to step away from the office. Call your significant other, your mom, or your best friend, and ask what’s going on with them, avoiding the temptation to discuss anything even remotely work-related. Your job may be your focus for the rest of the day, but for a few minutes, move it to the back burner and focus on something (anything) else.

Consider some highlights of your perfect day. What would you really enjoy doing? What’s absolutely necessary for you to get done? Identify what tools or extras would make the mandatory work easier to complete. Aromatherapy while you grade papers? A powerful run? Figure out what can help you, and build it into your day.


 Enjoying Weekends and Vacation 

Instead of saving all of your life chores for Sunday, get them out of the way as soon as possible, either by doing them first thing Saturday morning or dispersing them throughout the week. That way, instead of spending your last few hours of free time on Sunday night washing your dirty clothes, you'll be able to fill it with something fun and relaxing.

The nature of many jobs is that there will never be an easy time to take time off, no matter how well you plan for it in advance. But that's no reason to not go at all. It's in your employer's best interests to have well-rested and recharged employees, and vacation time is a benefit that you've earned, just like salary, so you should use it. So instead of waiting for the perfect time—which may never come along—decide that you will use your vacation time this year, and make the question one of what accommodations should be made, rather than whether accommodations can be made.

If you don't have enough Paid Time Off or Personal Time Off to take a full vacation, try taking a day off here and there for a stay-cation or long weekend. It may not seem like much, but taking just a day or two to break out of the 9-to-5 grind can do wonders.


 Getting Chores Done 

Make your grocery run as efficient as possible by making a list coordinated to aisles or store sections. And if the whole family has to come along, get everyone involved: If you can walk, you can shop.

By doing the least favorite chore at the beginning of each week, it feels entirely more manageable. The feeling of work burnout tends to increase as the week moves forward, so by frontloading your work week evenings with your least favorite tasks, you can reserve the more enjoyable work night activities for the end of the week. Monday is for laundry, Tuesday is for vacuuming and bills, Wednesday is for dry cleaning, Thursday is for a "Favorite Series" marathon. And so on.

Get creative with what chores you can outsource (and therefore avoid!). There are plenty of services out there that will take care of your least favorite tasks for you, from cleaning and cooking to laundry and shopping.