There is no such thing as achieving a perfect work/life balance. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find any time for yourself – you can, if you want to. March 16th is #MEday, a day when you should focus on the most important person in your life – YOU! We know how precious your free time is, and that’s why we decided to skip a long introduction explaining why you should work less and enjoy more. You know that already, hell, we all know it! During my procrastination episodes, I found some tips that truly worked and I tried to explain them in the most scientific way there is – by using GIFs! 🙂
Work like crazy, when you’re in the zone
Do you ever find yourself just staring at the computer screen, incapable of putting your mind to work? Yes, we’ve all been there. That’s the obvious sign telling you that you’re not in the working mode. Instead of just wasting time at doing nothing, start rebooting your system. Grab that donut you’ve been thinking of for the last two hours. Play your “getting in the work zone” song. Pour some coffee and relax. If you’re working remotely, take a walk. Have an ice cream with your kids. Did you know that a 2015 study by a team at the University of Warwick found that workers were 10% more productive after watching a comedy video than a control group that did not watch it? So, hit play on that “Friends” episode which makes you laugh out loud. It’s easy – just take a break!
Are you a morning person like me? Great, try to get the most important assignments done by the afternoon. You prefer to work while everyone’s sleeping? Create a to-do list, put your night goggles on (just a metaphor, do not spy on others!) and nail those tasks one by one!
We all have different working routines and different “productivity hours”. Write down the most important tasks for the day and try to get them done when you’re in the zone. That way, you won’t waste any of the precious time – effectivity ✅, efficiency ✅, more quality ME time ✅
One can not simply put routine and strategic tasks into the same basket
My regular day at work includes some of these activities: 5-7 unanswered emails, marketing costs report, one blog post to write and one to revise, marketing campaigns performance report for revision and conclusions, some new data ready to be put into our joint document, a meeting regarding the new project.
What do I do first? Well, I like to divide all tasks into two groups: planned and strategic ones. For example, some of the emails, revising a blog post, and new data go straight to my “planned tasks” basket. Those are assignments I do on a daily basis. And yes, they require a brain usage, but not so much as the strategic ones. Since I am a morning person, getting done strategic tasks as soon as I finish my first coffee is a natural option. After I nail them, I use the rest of my working hours for finishing planned tasks.
Of course, you can find your own way of doing this, just make sure not to put all the assignments in one big basket – it’ll be a total mess. Divide, then conquer! 🙂
“Hermione-ize” your priorities
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize… How many times have you heard that? It is not always that simple, you’ll think, except it is (once you get used to doing it). Just try asking yourself: “If I could focus just on one thing today, what would it be?” And it doesn’t have to be work-related. Your answer will be your top priority. Repeat that question a few times and you’ll have 3-5 priorities for the day.
What’s the lesson here? Figuring out what you WANT your priorities to be, not what you think they should be! First time I started doing this I was really surprised how well it worked. On the most days of the week, I manage to keep up with the work, but also to find some time for walking my dog, hitting the gym, meeting with friends. By doing so, I don’t feel unsuccessful or sad when I have to work late hours. It’s a win-win.
Brace yourselves, the break is coming!
The first thing you should acknowledge is that taking a break is perfectly okay. If you remember high-school or University days, the sessions were separated by breaks. You were supposed to breathe in fresh air, take a walk, grab something to eat… Those breaks had an important purpose. Did you know that movement breaks are essential for your physical and emotional health? If you don’t allow yourself to put your mind at ease for a short period of time, you will become too burned out to appreciate any part of your life.
A famous study on extraneous factors in judicial decisions showed that Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after their two daily breaks than after they had been working for a while. Holy Moly! 🙂
Allow yourself to take some ME time during the working hours – move around the office to stretch your legs, take a short walk, give a purpose to your imagination and dive into daydreaming. Do something that fulfills you and provides you with the energy for the rest of the working day.
Kill the deadline before it eats you
Let’s be honest, we all need a deadline, that exact date and time that will make us stop looking at puppy videos or reading about eating habits of a specific dinosaur breed. That panic mode fairy that visits us right before the deadline may give us tons of inspiration, but also lots of stress. That’s why it is crucial to set a deadline for your tasks and take it seriously!
It is not always easy to stay on the track and finish every part of the assignment exactly on time. As soon as you set a deadline, make a detailed action plan and try to incorporate all non-work activities into it. Make some room for taking breaks, time for family and friends, and of course some ME time. That way you won’t feel like you’re having a lot on your plate. And you’ll get to say goodbye to your panic mode fairy – just how awesome is that? 🙂
Disclaimer: The GIF & the headline serve only as a funny metaphor. Do not kill sharks, those smart and wonderful creatures.
Take Professor McGonagall’s course on saying NO
I took that course and it really helps. 🙂 Seriously, I’ve had a problem with saying no for a long period of time. Besides my regular job, I volunteered for an NGO. Also, I write articles for our local newspaper and have the cutest puppy in the world waiting for me to get home. 🙂 There are a lot of things on my plate on a daily basis and if I put one more, something won’t be done as well as I would like to. Or I’ll stay in the office the whole day and be very unhappy about it (so will my dog).
Try not to take every assignment. I am sorry, I don’t have enough time for that, need to put my best into the assignments I already have. But would you like some inputs that can be helpful?
The first time you say no to your supervisor, a colleague, or even yourself will be pretty hard. Don’t feel guilty – there’s a specific amount of work weight one can carry. If you grab too much, your spine will break and no one will be happy. Measure the right amount and you’ll nail it every single time. Plus, you’ll find some extra time to cuddle with your pet, see a movie with your family, go out with your friends. And those moments are truly worth putting an effort into saying NO.
Choose smart over hard
The definition of productivity doesn’t include more working hours. You can be much more efficient working 6-7 hours when in the zone, than being stuck at the office the whole day. Everyone needs a break! What should you do? Prioritize and give yourself a certain amount of time per assignment. Try avoiding less productive activities such as unstructured meetings that’ll last for hours.
The secret is in working smarter, not harder. And always leave a decent amount of time to get some quality sleep. Yes, sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck between a few tight deadlines, so the sleepless nights are guaranteed. And that’s fine, just don’t let that become a routine. (Un)fortunately, we’re not robots but humans, and we both need and deserve some ME time, or even a #MEday from time to time. Do not ever forget that!
Spice the day with some ME time – it’s obligatory!
It is not a sign of weakness to acknowledge that you need a time out – a few minutes, hours, or even days to enjoy some ME time. That shows just how self-confident you are and that you’re taking control over your work/life balance!
When was the last time you took some time just for yourself? Time to enroll in that course you always wanted, appreciate all you’ve done in the past year, pamper yourself with a spa day, or have a picnic with your family?
Well, #MEday is here to remind you to take some time to smell the roses. 🙂 We believe that we all deserve at least one day to rejuvenate, take a deep breath, and connect to what is really important to us. That is where the idea of a #MEday – a day when we all can distress, embrace our inner heroes, and take some time for ourselves, came from. Take a break, meditate, sing, call a friend, work in the garden, or climb the mountain. Do something that improves the quality of your life and that makes YOU happy. Because, as you know, #MEday is all about you!
Happy #MEday! 🙂
Photo credits: Giphy, Imgur, bootstheory, popsugar