As I talked about in How I Made $979,321 in 2016, my top goal for 2017 is to have a better work life balance. I am by no means complaining about anything at the moment, but I know that I could do better.
As a full-time blogger, taking a break from blogging can be quite difficult. It's easy to work 24/7, and as your own boss, you know that every minute is an opportunity to improve your business.
Plus, it's can be very difficult to disconnect because as a blogger, you can work from your phone, laptop, on vacation, and more.
If you’re like me, it is even more difficult to unplug when you love what you're doing.
But, that doesn't mean it's healthy.
Finding a good work life balance means taking breaks from work to enjoy life, and it’s important that you aren’t glued to a screen 24/7.
You need to enjoy what's going on around you, be present in the moment, and have a life outside of work.
Even if you are enjoying your work, a break is good. A bad work life balance can make you irritable, stressed, impact your relationships, and affect your health.
I know that I'm not alone in needing a better work life balance because, according to Monster.com:
- Around 50% of workers feel overwhelmed by work.
- 88% of workers have a difficult time managing a work life balance.
- One-third of Americans work 10 hours a day or longer.
- One in five spend another 10 hours per week working from home.
Running a business and being able to travel probably sounds great to the average person, and trust me, it is.
But, like I mentioned earlier, managing a good work life balance is important as it can be easy to let your business or job take over your life.
Here is how I plan on managing a better work life balance.
As some of my long-time readers may know, one of my main focuses has always been working ahead. For Making Sense of Cents, I am usually around 2-3 months ahead in content, which makes full-time traveling much more enjoyable.
Planning and working ahead are what keeps me sane and helps me manage a good work life balance.
So, if I come across an area with no internet, if I really love where I’m visiting, or if I am unable to work for some other reason, then I can still have fun and not feel as stressed out.
Working ahead on blog content means that I am not frantically trying to get writing work done. It allows me to enjoy our time exploring new areas because I am not working on a strict deadline.
This also makes writing much more enjoyable because I only write an article when I am really in love with the topic. I used to feel rushed with my writing when I had something scheduled for the following day.
It can take a little effort to start working ahead, but it’s important if you are looking for a better work life balance.
Take time off.
Even though I've been running this blogging business full-time for almost four years (I started this blog six years ago, but I began while working another job full-time), I don't think I've ever taken a full day off from my blog.
I'm always answering emails, thinking of new ideas, handling social media, writing, and more. While I love everything about blogging, a day off is always a good idea!
So, to work towards a better work life balance, I'm going to start by taking a full day off at least a few times a month. It may not sound like much, but I have to start somewhere, haha!
I've tried taking a day off in the past, but it was very difficult because the emails were piling up. On average, I receive well over a few hundred emails per day from people who want answers to something. You can throw in a few hundred spam emails too.
Be okay with emails building up.
Like I just said, taking time off means the emails will pile up. Don’t get me wrong, I love answering emails from my readers, and it's something that I'll do for at least the foreseeable future.
But, I also love seeing my inbox in the single digits.
I’m good about answering emails quite quickly, as some of you know. However, that can be bad when trying to manage a good work life balance.
It also means that my eyes are almost always glued to my inbox. And, that constant multitasking means I may be losing focus on a more important task.
To fix this problem, I am going to start by only checking emails three times a day, instead of what feels like 1,000 times per day. Eventually, I would like to check my inbox just once a day. Whatever the email is, I'm sure it could wait 24 hours in order to be answered.
Be more efficient with my time.
I’ll be honest with you, I'm not the most efficient with my time. Although I hardly ever watch TV, I am constantly switching back and forth between work and social media. As a blogger, being on social media is critical, but I'm mainly just wasting time.
By switching back and forth, I am losing focus, which means it takes me longer to complete a task because I keep stopping and starting over and over again.
Social media can be a huge time waste for more than just bloggers, and the average person spends many, many hours on social media each week.
Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others, it can be quite easy to waste your entire day.
If you find that you are spending too much time on social media and that it is negatively impacting you, you may want to shut down the social media accounts that you are spending too much time on. You can even create a time block so you cannot access your accounts during certain periods of the day, and so on.
By spending less time on social media, you won’t have as many time wasting distractions that make it difficult to stay focused.
Just think about what you could do with a few extra hours a day if you stopped spending as much time on social media!
To work towards a better work life balance, I am going to completely close out of social media while I am completing a task. I also won't be glued to my phone before bed or right after I wake up.
Related: How To Find Time To Make More Money
Have a clear schedule and to-do list.
This is one area that I actually do quite well in. However, it's always great to bring it up because I really believe that it will help others manage a good work life balance.
I don't know where I would be without my schedule and to-do list. I have a fairly bad memory and forget things almost immediately. Without my to-do list, I would be completely lost and would spend way too much time trying to remember what I'm supposed to do.
My to-do list and schedule keep me on track and motivated. I really love crossing items off my to-do list because I am a huge nerd.
If I know I won’t remember an upcoming task or event, I will create a reminder and add it to my to-do list. This makes managing my life easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things, missing payments, etc.
I create reminders for all sorts of things, such as:
- Business tasks and to-do lists.
- When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments.
- Renewing license plate tags for our cars.
- Paying semiannual bills, like car insurance.
This ensures that I am always on top of exactly what I need to do, and nothing is ever forgotten. I don't even spend time wondering if I forgot something, which gives me more time to stay focused on what truly matters.
Stop multitasking everything.
As you’ve noticed, there's a common theme in today's article – stop multitasking.
Some people are good at multitasking, whereas most are not. There is proof out there that multitasking can actually result in wasted time. This is because it takes time to re situate yourself every time you stop and start a task.
I recently read something that said whenever you start and stop a task, you are wasting at least 25 minutes.
That wasted time can really add up.
Instead of multitasking, choose a task and stick to it for a certain amount of time. Don't try to work while talking on the phone, watching TV, doing dishes, and also Facebook stalking someone in the background.
Some people can multitask successfully, but with the large amount of time it takes to refocus on a new task, many people cannot.
Think about your strengths and weaknesses to understand whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time. For the most part, focusing on a single task will allow you to simplify your life and focus better.
Focusing on one thing at a time is exactly what I will be working towards. If I have multiple tasks that can be done at the same time, I just need to take my time and do them one at a time.
The hardest thing for me about traveling full-time is unplugging from my work.
Being location independent means that you are able to bring your work wherever you go. It also means that it can be hard to separate your work from the rest of your life. This does not make for a good work life balance.
Technology makes it easy to work 24/7, and it makes it very easy to work while traveling. But having time away from your phone, laptop, etc. will allow you time to yourself and to enjoy life a little more.
Whether you work at an office or work for yourself at home, having a set schedule is very important. If you work from home, it can be especially hard to leave work. I often find myself working all morning and all night long.
Setting a schedule that allows you to step away from work is important. And, it might mean that you have to turn off your phone and leave it at home or in a completely different room.
It’s important to find a way to unplug that works for you. Lately, I've been going on very long hikes so that I can unplug without any chance of having an internet connection.
An eight hour hike does the mind and body well!
I outsource some tasks, but I could definitely be outsourcing more.
When I tell people that I run Making Sense of Cents 95% on my own, they are shocked. After all, I regularly earn over $100,000 a month and made $979,000 in 2016 alone.
You'd think that there would be a team of people running this business.
But, nope, it's just me, my editor, and my tech person – and those last two people are part-time.
In order to have a better work life balance, I need to work on outsourcing tasks. I need to find a way to value each task to see if my time is better spent elsewhere.
If you find yourself low on time, then you might want to consider hiring someone to help you out. There are virtual assistants, personal assistants, and everything else out there. You can designate certain tasks that don't exactly need YOU in order to function.
Plus, you may find that outsourcing certain tasks will give you more time and energy to reach your other goals.
This might mean doing something like hiring someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, or do car repairs. This will give you more time to start your business on the side or whatever your goal might be.
In order to outsource effectively and to make sure that it’s worthwhile, you will want to think about a few things, such as:
- Could you earn more in that time by outsourcing, or would you be better off doing the work yourself?
- Do you feel comfortable doing the task, or would you be better off leaving it to an expert?
- Would outsourcing the task help you focus on your goal?
Start saying “no.”
I have a problem with saying “yes” to everyone. I have gotten better, but it still doesn’t come easy.
If you always say “yes” to everything and find yourself with little time for your own tasks, then you might want to learn how to say “no.” Having fewer items on your to-do list will obviously free up some time.
You're probably thinking “But I HAVE to do that.”
Actually, you probably don't. You should start by determining the value of the task in terms of how it will affect your work life balance. Could you possibly find someone else to do the task instead? Is the task worth your time?
If you say “yes” to everything but are ready to pull your hair out, then you may want to start saying “no.”
Limiting your accountability can help you stay focused on one thing at a time. It will also simplify your life by allowing you to focus on what’s really important to you.
What do you do in order to manage a better work life balance? Do you have any apps that help you manage it?
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