You might feel best about your work when you know you’ve given 100 percent to a task or project, but focusing all of your energy on your professional goals can be a slippery slope. With illnesses like adrenal fatigue and burnout on the rise, it’s important to be aware of how healthy you are when dedicating yourself to a job. Kate Hanley, a yoga teacher, personal development coach and the author of How to Be a Better Person, knows first-hand how common it is to feel stressed during busy times. We caught up with Kate to score six of her tried and true tips that’ll help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and focus on the things that truly matter.
Part 1: Work Harder, Not Smarter
Whether you work in an office or you are a hustling small business owner or solo-preneur, these three tips will help you save time and energy each day.
- Try using two lists to accomplish your goals. “If your to-do list includes everything single thing you ever need to get done, it will still be miles long at the end of the day—despite how hard you work,” Kate says. “That’s a recipe for frustration! Instead, keep a master list of everything in a different spot than your calendar or planner. Each morning, choose a handful of those items to put on your daily to-do list.” According to Kate, maintaining these two lists will help you feel good about your progress without worrying that you’re forgetting something.
- Step away from your inbox. Kate let us know that research has shown that checking email just three times a day can reduce stress as much as practicing relaxation techniques. Even more, checking your inbox less frequently can save you time. “Use an app (such as SelfControl) to hold you accountable and set specific times of day when you won’t check in and when you will,” Kate advises.
- Learn how to delegate. Ditching tasks that take up your time or prove to be a source of stress is a surefire way to work smarter. To do it the right way, Kate says to provide clear instructions and let whoever is owning the task manage it fully. “People who are doing something for the first time may make mistakes, so focus on appreciating the effort more than the results early on, and give positive feedback they can hear.”
Part 2: Harness the Power of Your Off Hours
Using your time away from work wisely can be a secret weapon for coming back to whatever you’re working on with excitement and energy. Even more, learning how to maximize your off-hours will help you enjoy your family, friends and the things that bring you the most joy.
- Declare an end to the work day. “Even if your job demands connectedness, try to set your own rules for when you officially end your work day,” Kate advises. “Your boss or a client might text you at odd hours, but you don’t have to be the one starting the conversations.” She reminded us that setting boundaries (and sticking to ‘em) is key for protecting yourself from burning out. Plus, its in everyone’s best interest.
- Make a smooth transition from the end of a work day to your personal time. Kate says that creating a simple ritual can help you separate your professional and personal time. “Consider something like taking the scenic way home from work, hitting the gym, taking a walk, singing on the drive home or meditating for five minutes before you get out of the car,” she suggests. “You’re short-changing yourself if you bring your work mindset into your personal time.”
- Plan your leisure time. “The thought of planning your time off may seem like an oxymoron—but if it does, you may not be making the most of your personal time,” Kate wisely notes. “Don’t leave your time to rest and recover entirely to chance; you and your loved ones want to enjoy it as best you can.” To avoid this easy trap, Kate advocates for spending time during the week thinking about how you’d like to spend your weekend; it’ll make you more likely to actually do those things. “You don’t have to plan every moment,” she explains. “You just have to give some thought to what you want to do and when you’ll do it.”