Let’s be honest, web developers and designers aren’t particularly known for maintaining great work/life balance. Images of hackathons and intense work sessions come to mind easily. Too often people buy into the idea that “more” means “better” when in reality there is only so much quality work a normal person can do in a day/week/month/year. Why not try to be more deliberate about your approach to finding balance?
We live such connected lives, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s important to make time to be unavailable. Cut out the noise and give your brain time to process what’s going on in your life, and ideally, be silent. People need time to recharge, and it’s hard to do when there are always little things nagging at our minds.
Have you heard of a technology sabbath? It’s a concept that is becoming more popular as people are discovering the benefits of building time into your routine to unplug from technology and focus on life around you.
Determine what is most important to you
We only have so much time in a day to work with. You need to be deliberate about how you spend that time. The “jar of rocks” analogy is a great way to visualize this. If you fill your day first with small, insignificant tasks (the sand), then you won’t have room for your important work (the large rocks). So take the time to figure out your priorities and build your day around them.
Be honest to yourself and others about your limitations
It’s hard to say “no” to people, but it’s one of the simplest ways to maintain balance in your life. You can’t do it all, and need to set boundaries for what is realistic.
You should be exercising anyway, but life gets in the way, right? Well, there are many ways exercise can impact your day-to-day life in unexpected ways, including increased productivity and memory, increased decision-making skills and focus, and faster information processing.
Get enough sleep
How can you expect to be at your best if you aren’t well rested? You may not think you have enough time to get a full night’s sleep, but you will likely make up for that “lost” hour or two by having more energy and focus. You can also try a cat nap during your lunch break for an energy boost in the afternoon.
Think about the tasks in your life that you can delegate out. Not just simple tasks at work, but at home as well. See if your spouse or roommate can help out more, or if you can swing it, splurge on a housekeeper and gardener for a few hours a month.
Get buy-in from your family and friends
This is especially important for Treehouse students who are also working. Working and studying is difficult, but hopefully temporary. Make sure that your family and friends understand your goals and what you are doing to achieve them. You might be surprised at how understanding they are, and how they are willing to help.
Don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done. Whether it’s a nice dinner or a fun day trip over the weekend, when you work hard, find a way to reward yourself. This will encourage your brain to continue to work hard and strengthen good habits.
Live by the 80/20 rule
Your time is not spent with equal results. The concept is there are certain tasks, about 20% of your work, that lead to 80% of your results. Take a look at what you do and find what tasks produce the most impact. Try to do away with as much of the tasks that don’t fall into that super-productive category.
Make it a daily habit to list out things in your life for which you are grateful. Expressing gratitude has a host of benefits, including increased happiness, improved health, and increased mental alertness. This will also help you stay focused on the important things in your life.
As life gets stressful, for some reason people tend to double down instead of finding a way to bring back a bit of joy. Laughter is good for your body and brain and I shouldn’t have to tell you to do it more . . .
Be an optimist
Thinking positively helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and when you are working hard, you need all the help you can get. Train your brain to look for the good in situations, and frame up problems as a challenge or opportunity to improve.
Which of these tips are you going to try and incorporate into your life? Are there any you’d recommend adding?