As an interior designer, I work closely with my clients, often for extended amounts of time. It’s a special bond that develops and allows me personal insight into their lives, their families, their lifestyles, their professions and their plans for the future. More often than not, these clients are busy professionals. Professionals who are time-poor, whether that be because of their career, family commitments or other personal endeavors.
What I’ve discovered is that clients ultimately strive to have a healthy work/life balance, but it doesn’t always go to plan. For this reason, I wanted to put together a list of 13 easy tips to help you get the most out of your life, without the important aspects of your life suffering. What we need to start understanding is that there does not need to be a tradeoff between ‘work’ and ‘life’ when you start realising what your priorities and passions truly are and how to utilise your time in the most productive way.
You can have it all. You just have to know how.
Build downtime into your schedule:
When you plan your week, make it a priority to schedule time with your family, friends and yourself- doing activities that will help you recharge. It could be a home cooked meal, date night, yoga class – whatever you like. This way, you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time more effectively throughout the day.
If it’s not on your calendar, it doesn’t exist:
Calendars are not just for work. You need to block out specific times and schedule in your own personal activities (fun and not-so-fun) to make sure they actually get done. If it’s truly important to you, get it on your calendar in black and white.
“Inner chaos creates outer chaos”:
One of Marie Forleo’s mantras. Meaning- Get Organised. Personal and professional errands/tasks should be on the same 'To Do' list. The way you view and plan your time should encompass ALL the things you need/want to achieve, regardless of what category they fall into. If it’s on the list, you will prioritise it and it’ll feel good to start remembering birthdays, anniversaries and remembering to pick up the milk and dry cleaning.
Streamline your Life:
Do you think your boss who works 60+ hours, competes in triathlons and takes weekend breaks away with the family does it all himself? I don’t think so! Outsourcing your personal tasks and errands is not just for the wealthy anymore. If you are running around trying to keep up with your growing to-do list, start delegating and start outsourcing. Your buyer’s agent has you covered when it comes to finding a home or investment property- but there is a myriad of other service providers that can help alleviate the pressures in your personal life.
Start saying ‘No!’:
You can’t be everything to everyone. When people start putting demands on your time, either personally or professionally, feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to appointments/events that don’t serve you. Don’t sacrifice your own health and wellbeing by squeezing in everyone else’s demands. On a professional level, it may feel uncomfortable to say 'no', but you can’t reach your full potential if you are always feeling depleted. If you don’t establish boundaries, for example, after-hours emails/calls/tweets, co-workers and others will continue to eat up your personal time until you have nothing left to give.
Stop making excuses:
Everyone has the same amount of time in each day. It’s easy to blame the innocent passing of time as to why you’re not making the most out of your life, but the only person you’re cheating is yourself. Here is your challenge: For ONE week, write down everything you do in a day, to the minute – eating, sleeping, working, watching TV. At the end of the week, tally up how much time you have spent on the couch, on social media, trawling the internet or doing other things that you don’t enjoy or that don’t enhance your life. You might be surprised to find you actually do have a few extra hours up your sleeve the next week.
Arrive early or stay late – but do NOT do both:
If you’re a workaholic and frustrated there’s not enough time for the gym/friends/family/leisure – I’m afraid you are the only one that can fix this. Start owning your power. If you get to the office early, leave bang on time. If you push back your start time so you can squeeze in a morning workout, stay 30 minutes later. But do not do both. Ditch the guilt, prioritise yourself.
Remember your Passions:
It’s easy to get caught up on the treadmill of life, one foot in front of the other, on autopilot, over and over again. When was the last time you felt truly passionate about something? Where you felt excitement and butterflies in your stomach? Do you even know what your passions would be anymore? It could be as simple as reading a book, learning a language, travel or changing the world! Whatever it is, find it, hold onto it, and start taking action to create something with meaning and purpose in your life.
Slow down and Check-In:
And no, I don’t mean on Facebook. Next time you get home, don’t turn on the TV, put your phone in your bedroom out of sight, or at a minimum, turn OFF all the incessant notifications and alerts coming through, engage with your partner, be present with your kids in the moment, cook a delicious and nutritious meal. Stop worrying what is going on outside your world for a moment, and just be at ease and peace with yourself and/or your family. Start realizing it’s not about QUANTITY of time spent with loved ones, but QUALITY of time.
When you walk away from Social Media, it no longer exists:
This was a revelation for me. Think for a moment, how many times you check your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Linked In… Think how many times you click on the colourful social media icons on your phone/tablet/laptop while you’re on the train, at work, at home, wherever! If you’re at a restaurant and your date goes to the bathroom, do you reach for your phone to ‘fill the void’? It’s getting to breaking point. And it needs to stop. Dedicate time to social media, and stay off it the rest. Look around, open your eyes and stop being a slave to company's mass marketing, or the highlight reels of other people’s lives. When you walk away, it no longer exists and trust me, if you haven’t tried it, it is incredibly liberating!
To all things that no longer serve you, and all things that suck your time. Spend an hour going through your Inbox and unsubscribing from all the crap/junk/advertising that sucks your time and zaps your concentration. You don’t need it. Keep what you love, keep what serves your and delete the rest. De-cluttering your life, and your inbox, feels great!
Stop hitting ‘Snooze!’:
First Alarm. Covers Off. Stand up. That’s all you need to do. This is tough but I know you’re up for the challenge and I know you want to put your health and wellbeing as a top priority. This is your challenge: Alarm goes off. Throw the covers off and stand up. Just stand up. Get in the shower or put your runners on, whatever you need to do, but don’t get back into bed. Try this every day for a week. Just do it, and see how much better you feel and how much more you can accomplish in that otherwise wasted, precious block of time.
Mindfulness over Madness:
Relaxation goes a long way. 15 minutes of mindfulness practice and/or meditation works wonders for alleviating stress, anxiety and allowing you to focus, prioritise and be more productive in your daily life. Don’t try to figure out how or why it works, and don’t stress if you don’t think you’re ‘doing it right’. Just start. Set aside the time, download an app like ‘Headspace’ or ‘Smiling Mind’ and commit to giving yourself that time each day, to do nothing but be still. You will be happier and more balanced for it.
That's it. Sound simple? Give it a shot and let me know how you go, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain...
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