11 Expert Tips to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
While we wouldn’t go as far as to call ourselves workaholics, we’re definitely guilty of letting our work life creep into our personal life (AKA we’re *always* checking our work emails in bed). But with more and more millennials picking up freelance work and pursuing their side hustles, it’s really no wonder why a healthy work-life balance eludes so many of us. So before our social lives are damaged beyond repair, we’re tapping a few girlbosses for their top tips on how to properly balance work with pleasure.
1. Kick up your feet after 6pm — even if you’re still at the office. Just because you’re staying at the office late doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to cut loose after hours. “I’m often at the office ’til 8pm, which is later than most of my peers,” notes Jennifer Bluemling, co-founder and CEO of Borrowed by Design. “We have a rule in our office that if you stay after 6pm, you have the freedom to turn up the music and crack open a beer. Working late in a startup is necessary, but it doesn’t have to suck.”
2. Take one day during the weekend for yourself. “As hard as I do work, and as thankful as I am for a dedicated team, we expect that everyone takes a full day off during the weekend,” say Bluemling. “Sunday is my family day, and everyone knows I refuse to answer emails until my baby is asleep for the night (he’s five months old). At this age, he’s growing so fast and I don’t want to miss out on seeing him grow up.”
3. If possible, be flexible with your schedule. “I give myself and my employees the flexibility to have either four 10-hour days or five eight-hour days per week,” says Bluemling. Personally, Bluemling opts for longer days instead and cherishes her extra free day. “It gives me the ability to take a pause mid-week and get some errands done for myself, clean the house, or even pop in for a mani/pedi. Clearing my head for an afternoon gets me right back on track, and I’m much more productive during those weeks without feeling burned out by Friday.”
4. Get your ish done on public transit. If you’re living in the city, it may be wise to swap your car keys for a bus pass once in a while. “Though we have a car, I take the subway to work so that I can use that time to be productive,” says Donna Garlough, Joss & Main‘s style director. “On my commute, I’m shopping for school uniforms, emailing the piano teacher, ordering groceries, refilling kids’ prescriptions, and editing images on my phone for social media — all the stuff I can’t get to during the workday.” This means that once you leave work, you can focus on quality time with your loved ones *instead* of your laundry list of personal chores.
5. Treat yo’ self on Mondays. “For me, and probably for most women with high-stress careers, Mondays are undoubtedly the most hectic day of the week,” says Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s vice president of communications and branding. “My Mondays are usually filled with back-to-back meetings and conference calls, sometimes starting as early as 7am.” So in order to keep up her productivity so she can enjoy some leisure time after work, she indulges with a treat that she knows she’ll love. “I’ve learned that the best way for me to beat the Monday blues is to give myself something to look forward to, so I take the time to treat myself to my favorite coffee, an almond milk latte from Blue Bottle, every single Monday before heading into the office, no matter how busy my morning is.”
6. Get organized early. While it may seem counterintuitive to add a little work time into your weekend, taking the time to organize your week ahead can make *all* the difference for achieving a healthy work-life balance. “When I know my day is particularly packed with calls and meetings, I find it incredibly beneficial to take 30 minutes on Sunday to think about what my top priorities are for the week, and get organized for the day ahead of me,” notes Pambakian. “It’s never fun to think about work on a Sunday, but it pays off when I wake up and already have a game plan to tackle the day.”
7. Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks. “It’s okay if you’re one of those people who has to pencil in fun,” jokes Christina Flach, celebrity makeup artist and CEO of Pretty Girl Makeup. “Whatever you have to do to get yourself to rejuvenate, do it.” If you find yourself staying at work past 6pm, take small breaks throughout the day to break things up and focus on non-work things. “I have started taking breaks that I have penciled in my calendar during the day to go to yoga, walk my dogs in the hills, or get a much-needed massage,” says Flach. “This helps me to clear my head so that I can be the best version of myself in all aspects.”
8. Don’t compromise on your sleep. “I sleep a full eight hours per night, or more if I need it,” says Sara Margulis, co-founder and CEO of Honeyfund. “By rarely compromising on sleep, it allows me to maintain positivity and happiness throughout my workday.” Plus, a solid sleep schedule also makes it easier to be more productive at the office so you can leave on time!
9. Adopt a mantra of asking for help. “I have a 16-month-old son. Since he’s been born, it’s been harder to balance work and life because I’ve been afraid to rely on family and childcare professionals,” notes Jocelyn Michels, Yahoo’s senior director of global partnerships. “Recently, I adopted a new mantra: ‘Ask for help.’ Instead of trying to do everything myself, I now ask for help babysitting or with errands. I also use delivery services to remotely order groceries, diapers, etc. These, in turn, free up time to grab some adult time with friends. Finally, I routinely ask advice from working moms who are experienced in balancing work and life.”
10. When you disconnect, disconnect. “Balancing work and life is not easy, but I am getting better at it,” says Katie Rosen Kitchens, co-founder and editor-in-chief of FabFitFun. “I used to get countless dirty looks from my husband while I would constantly check my phone at dinner, at the bar, or even just watching TV together. And it was easy to understand. He’d plan something nice and I would be 70 percent checked into the evening. These days I really try to stay in the moment, and it’s so much more satisfying. I work a lot of hours, but when I am out having fun, I try to leave the office behind. It makes me have a better time in the moment, and I’m more productive at work because I am more focused and not dwelling on missed plans or quality time.”
11. Don’t be afraid to mix business with pleasure. If going out of town is unavoidable, try adding a fun touristy stop in-between your commitments. “When I travel for work I stay an extra day or two to visit friends, [go] sightseeing, or do something fun like a wine tour or checking out a recommended restaurant in between meetings or speaking engagements,” notes Michele Romanow, the youngest Dragon on Canada’s Dragons’ Den and co-founder of Clearbanc.
Do you have any tips to achieve a healthier work-life balance? Tweet us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)