“Work-life balance” is like the flossing of life skills. Everyone talks about how incredibly important it is, but pretty much nobody’s doing it. But, like good oral hygiene, it really comes down to a few simple changes that absolutely anyone can make. Want to crush your procrastination habit, get ahead at work, and get home early? Of course you do, and so did we. Here are our 15 tips that will help you change your career!
1. Get specific about your goals and keep them visible
Write down what you want to achieve and keep it somewhere visible, so you’ll always be reminded of what you’re really working toward. It can be a phrase or a symbol or a Post-It on your computer. Doesn’t matter what the goal is, as long as it matters to you.
2. Check your email a certain number of times per day and give it your full attention
You see this on every list of productivity tips, and it seems absolutely impossible. But, there’s a reason career gurus stress the importance of blocking off email time. First, it helps to keep your day on schedule, and second, it forces you to focus.
Email is the world’s most insidious, convenient procrastination device. People get very overwhelmed with their to-do list or a tough project or a hard phone call and they think, ‘Let me go online or check my email.’ Furthermore, when email is the constant background noise in your day, things can easily slip through the cracks. (How many times have you flagged something to respond to later, then forgotten it for a week?) When you process email give it your full focus.
3. Block off time for social media
Look, everyone’s going on Facebook at work. As with email, social media has become a vital tool in many of our workplaces — not to mention personal lives. There’s no avoiding it, so don’t! But, do be sure to set up a safety net so you don’t fall down the rabbit hole. Building social media into your day reframes the experience in your mind, and effectively neutralizes it as a distraction.
4. Know the difference between an interruption and an emergency
This one’s tricky. But, just because someone types “EMERGENCY” in an email doesn’t mean you should call the fire department. This is where thinking ahead saves you again. Take a second and think about the last few interruptions you dealt with at work. Now, ask yourself: Which were truly time-sensitive emergencies?
Whenever someone drops a last-minute request in your lap or tries to yank you out of a meeting, think before you act. What is your real priority? How can you be of the most help?
5. Create your own deadlines
This habit will save you in every area of life. Many people really do work better under pressure and if you can adopt a habit of setting and holding to your own personal deadlines, your efficiency will skyrocket and your stress levels will plunge.
For people who always get things done at the last minute, consistently setting advance deadlines will gradually break this habit. After a while, they discover how liberating it is to have things done a few days in advance.
A great app that will help you get organised is ‘Wunderlist’, free from the App Store.