For the longest time I admitted to being a self-proclaimed “workaholic” like it was a badge of honor. But after seeing my health and mental state suffer, after years and years of working myself to death, I knew there had to be a better way. If you’re hoping to find a good work-life balance, here’s how you can work less and still get ahead.
Prioritize time for breaks
Studies have shown that working without stopping to take breaks, even short ones, can ultimately make you less productive. It may sound counterintuitive to take a break and recharge, but it’s just what the doctor ordered if you want to get more work done in less time. Stand up from your desk, or go for a short walk around the neighborhood. Just 10-15 minutes can help your brain feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your to-do list.
Work odd hours of the day
Find your best productivity times of the day and rearrange your schedule to match them. If you work best during the evenings, after everyone else has gone to bed, then aim to get work done then. If you have a job that offers early-morning or late-night shifts, consider changing your work schedule. You may even get a small raise as a lot of odd-hour shifts offer more benefits or money for employees. You’ll be doing the same amount of hours but getting paid more.
Avoid overly demanding projects
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Let’s face it, all jobs require a good amount of work. That’s why it’s called a “job”, but that doesn't mean you have to work for people, or on projects, that are super stressful or overly demanding. Look for work that’s easier to manage, or ask to be placed under a different supervisor. Sometimes certain personalities just don’t “click” and your job can become a pressurized environment that makes it difficult to enjoy your work.
Group similar tasks into batches
Batching is a productivity term that allows you to group similar tasks together in “batches” as a way of streamlining your to-do list. When done right, batching can make you up to 10x more productive throughout the day. For example, instead of leaving your inbox open all day, only check it at specific intervals and only open emails you’re ready to respond to. This will eliminate extra work and time wasted on emails that you’ve already opened. Plus, batching makes it easier to plan out your day since you already know what you’re going to be working on during that specific time period.
Live by the 80/20 rule
The Pareto Principle is based on the 80/20 rule whereby 80% of your results are produced from only 20% effort. In other words, find the tasks you’re already doing that are working and eliminate the ones that are wasting your time. Start by doing an audit of your to-do list and see where your efforts are paying off the most. Then work on creating a lifestyle that allows you to live by the 80/20 rule. Maximize what’s working and drop the rest, it’s only a waste of time.
Learn to ask for help
This is often one of the hardest things for workaholics to come to grips with. But from time to time, you’re going to need help, whether that’s with household chores or your to-do list at work. Be bold about saying “no” and learning to delegate work that you just can’t handle. Asking for help is not a weakness. The more overworked and overloaded you are, the less you’ll be able to get done. So do yourself a favor and hire out different tasks until you’re able to get back on top of things.
Learning to implement these tips so you can work less and still get ahead will take time. But with patience and practice you’ll be on your way to taking back your time and finding that work-life balance you crave.