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5 ways to achieve work/life balance (and maybe just restore your sanity in the process)

Fiona Clark, founder of BreakThrough Business Solutions, says it is, and that improving that elusive balance between working life and life away from the daily grind isn’t the impossible task many think it is.

“The best way to achieve a great work/life balance is to figure out just what that balance is for you and your family,” Clark says.

“It’s not easy juggling it all, and it is never perfect,” she adds. “I’ve heard it described as more of a mashup of work and life, rather than an ideal balance to be achieved.”

Here are Fiona’s big five for getting your particular ‘mashup’ of work and life just right.

1. Focus on what’s important (to you)

It’s easy to get caught up trying to do everything and please everyone. And it’s hard to say NO sometimes. If there’s one thing that can help bring work and life into balance, it’s focusing on what’s important. You can’t do everything, so try to look at what is important (and MUST be done by you) and what can wait or be done by someone else. We tend to put extra pressure on ourselves and it’s just not necessary.

2. Lose the guilt

How often do you feel guilty about working? Or worrying you should do more with your kids or family? Are you feeling they’re missing out, or you are missing out?

A teenage girl once gave me a great description of her working mum and what was important to her. She said: ‘I think Mum is amazing. She is so clever at what she does and while she couldn’t make it to everything, she came along to what was important. I never felt I missed out because she was there when it mattered.’

Feeling guilty doesn’t benefit anyone and doesn’t help you or your family. We need to be kinder to ourselves, and focus on all the good things we are doing.

3. Schedule time with the family

If you have kids who are also busy, then it can work well to schedule time with the family. The times don’t have to be set in stone, but simply a reminder that Sunday will be a family day and time to be together to catch up (or ‘chillax’, as my eldest daughter says).

It’s also important to have some time on the weekend for you to rest up, slow down and recharge your batteries before the next week. I’ve learnt that a good day together is not necessarily racing around the city doing a lot of things, but can be relaxing at home together watching a movie or reading books.

4. Watch your time:

Be mindful of where you spend your time, because there are only 24 hours in the day, and it can easily seem that that’s simply not enough to get everything done. Wasting time is easy and when the TO DO list keeps getting longer and longer, it can all add up until it’s overwhelming.

The secret is leveraging your time.

Make calls from the car for all the follow up bits and pieces you need to get sorted (using the hands free phone kit of course – and doing it safely!)

If you have material you need to read, have it in your bag so that when waiting for a client or appointment, you can work through it and enjoy having one less thing to do.

Use online services to make life easier, such as online banking, internet grocery shopping and delivery, or use My Food Bag which delivers the ingredients and recipes to your door.

Also, hire a cleaner if you can. It’s wonderful to come home to a clean house and you can spend the weekend with the family instead.

5. One day at a time:

When things get very busy and stressful, just remember to take things one day at a time. Focus on what needs to be done today, then tomorrow, and so on, and ‘chunk it down’ instead of thinking of the never-ending list of things that need to get done. It will help take the stress off and makes things a lot more manageable.

It also allows you to enjoy your free time and time with your family. At the end of a busy week, I find a glass of wine, takeaways and a movie with the kids is what works for us.

Recently graduated from AUT's journalism undergraduate programme, Catrin has a unhealthy love of dogs, sun, beaches, and coffee. She's also Welsh and proud to let you know it.

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