It’s a difficult pill to swallow but, unless you’re born into one of the wealthiest families in the world, you’re probably going to have to work for a living. Some of us find great enjoyment, personal satisfaction and a reason for being alive, all from our careers. However, the vast majority of us don’t. For most, a job is a way to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads and the ability to afford ourselves some luxuries from time to time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re still making time alongside your work to enjoy yourself. If you’re struggling a little with your work-life balance, then these are some tips to help you set the scales straight.
Try The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re going to claim back some of your free time, then you’re going to need to make the hours when you are at work really count. Maximising productivity is key here and one of the most useful tools for this is the Pomodoro technique. It’s named after those little tomato timers you probably have in your kitchen, which you’ll need for this exercise (or feel free to use the timer on your phone).
Set the timer for 20 minutes and spend that whole 20 minutes focusing deeply on a work task. Don’t be distracted by coworkers, emails, phone calls or anything. Once the 20 minutes is up, you’ll have five minutes in which you can have a break and refresh, before your next 20-minute work session. During the five minute pause that you take from work, you can do whatever you like. You might want to catch up with the results of last night’s game, take five to play slots online, scroll through your newsfeed or watch a short YouTube video. Taking this break from intense work gives your brain a chance to relax and unwind so that you’re ready for another twenty-minute burst of intensity again.
This technique works because our brains are simply not wired up for concentrating for three to four hours at a time, but can manage short bursts of intense focus. You might be surprised at how well it works for you.
Start Your Day Right
One of the things that can hinder both our productivity and our get-up-and-go drive is starting and ending our day in the wrong way. Beginning your day by snoozing your alarm ten times, squeezing onto a packed commuter train and then grabbing a Starbucks before sprinting the final minute to the office is just not the path to self improvement. Whilst all of us love to sleep in, if it makes the rest of your morning a rush then it is not worth doing. Not to mention the more times that you snooze that alarm, the more difficult it is to wake up. Our brains produce a rush of hormones when we wake up that help us to actually get up and out of bed. Every time you snooze that alarm, the hormones are depleted, meaning that, when you finally get up, they’ve all been wasted on your constant snoozing. So lesson one, when your alarm goes off, get up!
Lesson two is to set your alarm earlier. In doing this you’ll not only arrive at work less stressed and with a mind that’s ready for work, you’ll also be claiming back some free time for yourself. Start your day by doing a type of exercise you enjoy; it could be a 20-minute yoga session, or taking the time to walk to work instead of taking public transport. Little acts of self love like this will put you in a better mood and leave you feeling energised once you’ve finished for the day, so you’ll be more likely to do something you enjoy in the evening.