If your career ambitions are only limited by the amount of hours in the day, then perhaps work-life balance isn’t something that concerns you!  However, for the rest of us, having evenings during the week, and weekends to ourselves, is ideal, although not always achievable, especially as we take on more responsibility throughout our careers.

But here are some ways to approach maintaining a work-life balance throughout our work lives:

Don’t Let Email Run Your Life

There will always be one more email, then another, then another.  And the funny thing about email is the more you reply, the more email you get back!  Now, many emails do need a quick reply, but most, not so much.

So there’s two important points here:

One – work on understanding which emails are important, and which less so.  Perhaps mentally categorize them as urgent, not really urgent, and not important.  Or come up with your own system; whatever works for you!

And secondly – if you spend all your time responding or reacting to emails, you don’t get any other work done!  Perhaps set times when you actually go through email, and the rest of the time, focus on your actual job.  If it’s really, really, really urgent and you haven’t been responding to emails, you’ll get a call, and even an in person visit (lucky you).

Just Say No (Politely)

For much of your career, you may find you have the option of taking on more work without the equivalent increase in money coming in.  Now this is often expected so you prove yourself before a pay rise or before an official increase in responsibility, but it’s also a sure path to your hourly wage shrinking, and can lead to you being utterly burnt out.  So learn to choose which tasks to agree to based on your career goals.

Can You Work Smarter?

Working smarter is a bit of a trite phrase that gets thrown around.  So what does it really mean?  Well, it’s worth giving careful thought to whether you can get the same amount of (or even more) work done in less time. One proven approach that not everyone has the ability to take on (you might need to get some technical help with this) is automation.  If you find yourself doing a repetition task at your computer again and again, there’s a strong chance it can be automated through a macro or a script.

That’s the amazing thing about software.  It can really make you so much more productive since the computer does a lot of the heavy lifting.  Software like XCD HR can automate many aspects of a human resources department for example, saving you money while helping your business grow.

Just Because You’re Busy Doesn’t Mean You’re Working

Some people love to say they’re always “grinding” (working hard), but when you actually see what they’ve done all day, it’s a lot of reading the news and spending time on Facebook.  So it’s important to be aware that being at your computer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually working, and the day can get away from you surprisingly quickly.

Actually having a task list and working through it can help, and can help keep you focused.  Of course, actually working is harder than just thinking you’re busy, so often you actually need to stop at the end of the day to recharge your batteries, rather than logging 12 hours at the computer, looking busy, and not actually achieving much.

Plus you may want to look into the Pomodoro Technique or similar time management techniques, which help you focus on the task at hand and get through your work faster.

So these tips, as obvious as they may appear, are not always particularly easy to implement due to force of habit.  But you may find that applying them can keep you focused and productive at work, and that allows you to switch off at the end of the day and actually have fun too!

How do you achieve a better work-life balance?