top of page

Creating Life Balance: Tips to Manage Your Time Wisely

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Do you often find yourself wishing for more hours in a day? Do you feel like you're constantly juggling your personal and professional responsibilities? If so, you're not alone. Many people struggle with finding a balance between their work and personal life. The good news is that it's possible to achieve a better life balance by managing your time wisely.


Time is a precious resource that we all have in equal measure, yet we often take it for granted. To manage your time effectively, you need to understand where it goes and whether you're using it wisely. This may seem daunting, but it's a crucial step towards creating a life balance that works for you.


This article outlines my three step process for improving life balance and includes practical tips to get you started today!




In 2022, a survey by HR and payroll software provider CIPHR reported that work-life balance now ranks above pay and benefits as the number one consideration of employees. Nearly four in five (79%) of remote workers and two thirds (67%) of other workers now list life balance as their priority.


So what do people mean when they say we want 'better work-life balance’? In my experience as a wellbeing and professional development coach, what clients really mean is;

  • I want to feel more in control of my time

  • I want to have more time for myself / my family / hobbies etc.

  • I want to feel less stressed and overwhelmed by my work

  • I want to be able to switch off from work

  • I want to be able to relax and enjoy my weekends

  • I want to feel less exhausted by Friday

Any of this sound familiar?


As a coach, I've helped many clients achieve a better life balance by introducing them to three simple rules: Awareness, Acceptance, and Alignment (inspired by research conducted by Cleo Whitehead). These rules aren't about filling every second of your day with activities; they're about being mindful of how you use your time and looking for opportunities to be more efficient and productive so that you can free up time for yourself later.





Rule 1: Awareness

The first rule, Awareness, involves reviewing how you actually use your time without judgment. Take a look at your daily routines and identify pockets of time that could be put to better use. The TimeTune app can be a helpful tool for this exercise.


When I decided to study for my masters while also teaching/leading full-time, I used the TimeTune app to identify and plan opportunities for studying around my work. I found this activity invaluable and it made me realise that even though I thought I was busy before, I could actually fit in studying time around school - IF I was disciplined.


I had to accept that I was going to have to make sacrifices in order to make it work. This meant giving up some of the freedoms I had previously enjoyed, and making myself study in the evenings instead of spending time with my partner, relaxing or doing chores. It also meant I had to be disciplined at work and start saying no to some of the things I had previously said yes to without thought.


When I introduced this concept to a group of educators, they identified time spent chatting with colleagues and scrolling on mobile phones as their biggest time-suckers. While it's important to maintain good relationships with colleagues, it's crucial to balance this with effective use of time. For example, you could agree to catch up with colleagues once or twice a week, but outside of those times, respect each other's time by avoiding unnecessary chit-chat.


Try…

  • Review how you ACTUALLY use your time. Download the TimeTune app (I'm not on commission I promise!) and fill in your weekly activities to identify your spare time.This is no time for self-judgement, so be honest here. Look for pockets of time in your day that could be put to better use in order to free up time in the evenings or at weekends.

  • Once you have done this, look for opportunities to fit in 10-15 minute activities such as 'mini-chores' (which could help reduce the time spent on chores at the weekend), or spend the time doing something restful or mindful that doesn't involve your phone. Like colouring, gardening or reading a book or magazine.

  • At work, think about creating an agreement that once or twice a week you will get together for a catch up, but that you will respect each other’s time outside of this (unless someone requires urgent support, of course).




Rule 2: Acceptance

The second rule, Acceptance, involves acknowledging that things can get in the way of the best laid plans and some days you simply won’t tick everything off, and that's okay. It's important to prioritize your tasks and focus on what's most important. Don't beat yourself up if you can't get everything done in one day.


I learned that while being organised was good, making a 'To Do' list wasn't always helpful and sometimes made me feel more stressed. I have had many conversations with clients in which they too put extraordinary pressure on themselves to finish their ‘To Do’ list, increasing stress and anxiety.


Guess what? You are not a failure if you get to the end of the day and haven’t ticked a single thing off. You probably did a whole load of other things that you can’t even remember right now instead of what’s on the list, so cut yourself some slack!

Instead, I suggest you also keep a 'Ta Dah!' list on which you write down everything you have done or achieved that day, personal or professional - especially if it was something unexpected. Doing this means that instead of ending your day focused on the things you didn’t cross off your ‘To Do’ list, you can look back with pride at all the things you did accomplish instead.


But, while we're here, let's have a quick reality check. In order to use your time mindfully, you also have to be honest with yourself about whether you could have ticked them off - if you really wanted to.


Let’s face it, some jobs totally suck and you won’t want to do them, so you may (consciously or subconsciously) avoid them. Train yourself to be aware of procrastination and accept that sometimes you've just got to crack on and get it done. Plan a little reward for after you’ve ticked it off.


Try:

  • Create a ‘Ta Dah!’ list alongside your ‘To Do’ list and notice how this changes your mood, self-perception and stress levels at work.

  • Work out what you are willing to sacrifice in order to have more time for the things that energise you and lift your mood. What could you let go of? What do you need to find more time for?

  • What kind of jobs do you avoid or drag out? How could you plan to get them done more quickly? What reward would motivate you? Who would be a good accountability partner?



Rule 3: Alignment

The third rule, Alignment, involves making conscious choices that allow you to do things you enjoy outside of work. This rule is about making sure you spend your down time doing things that re-energise you and make you feel happy. It's making the time to nurture your mind, body and soul in order to 'fill your bucket'.


Not only does this generate positive emotions that feel good in the moment, but it acts as a buffer against stress and anxiety; broadening your resources and increasing your resilience.


It doesn’t mean that you can’t choose to sit semi-conscious on the sofa in front of the TV in the evening - if you find that energising, then go for it - there’s no judgement here! Just do it knowingly and not just by accident, or because you are tired. You could be tired because you aren't doing anything to nourish your soul and balance out the stress of the week.


It really helps to know your personal core values here, as it is important to do things that genuinely mean something to you, rather than things you ‘think you should do’.

Feel free to download my free Identify Your Values pdf workbook using the button below.


Personally, I’ve found that making time to be creative every week makes me happy. So a friend and I get together one evening a week to follow a YouTube watercolour tutorial. We paint, chat and drink tea (and I sigh), but I really love it and it makes me feel like I’m recharging my batteries.


I have also been planning and prepping my vegetable garden recently, which has the double benefit of helping me feel hopeful that the weather will soon feel warmer and also makes me feel more connected to nature.


Try…

  • Working out what your core values are and review how you are reflecting those values in your life. Sometimes we feel disconnected when we aren't meeting our personal values, so this is a worthwhile activity. (Download my free guide here.)

  • Once you know your core values, make sure your activities allow you to honour them, whether it's through your professional or personal life. Do you need to make time to be more creative? Or social? Or would setting yourself a learning goal help? Is it finally time to brush up on your Spanish? Or learn to throw a pot?

  • Find an activity to do at least one evening a week. Maybe it’s playing a game, listening to a podcast, or reading a chapter of a book? Or it could be having a relaxing bath, or organising one drawer or cupboard.


Managing your time wisely to create life-balance isn't about filling every second of your day; it's about being mindful of how you use your time and looking for opportunities to be more efficient and productive. It's also about creating time to do things that recharge your batteries and make you feel happy. By applying these three simple rules, you can achieve a better life balance that works for you. Until then, keep striving for balance in your life!



 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with life balance, work-stress or generally just feeling a bit 'meh' about life, please get in touch. I would love to explore whether coaching could help you rebalance your life, rediscover your joy and feel more relaxed and in control.




If you want to find out more about me and how I use positive psychology and coaching in my own life, sign up to my weekly e-newsletter 'The Key to Wellbeing'. In it I share research-based tips, strategies and resources that you can apply to your work and home life to create balance, connection, resilience and confidence. Sign up using the button below.


Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page