Balancing your time between your work and your personal life can seem like an impossible goal. In today’s world, communicating 24/7 is the norm and there appears to be no end in sight. Between the pressures of demanding work and our family responsibilities, finding balance can be extremely challenging. Yet, it’s still important to take the time to unplug, relax and recharge. Experts agree that if you don’t give yourself adequate care, you can face a number of health issues; including increased stress, relationship problems and burn out. With so many of us affected by this issue, you can’t help but wonder if work-life balance is really attainable or just a pipe dream.

While it’s not realistic to think you can rearrange your life overnight, it is possible to attain balance to whatever degree is available to you. This will largely depend on your current circumstances and commitments. More importantly, it’s helpful to understand that striving for balance is an ongoing process that evolves by making deliberate choices and conscious commitments every day to the best of your ability. These two essential factors and consistent action will create an environment that will support this goal.

Even though making the decision to change is sometimes not an easy thing to do, if you deliberately look for opportunities you will find them, no matter how small they may seem. It’s the little things that can make a big difference.

Five Strategies for Work-Life Balance

In working with my clients over many years, I’ve identified 5 strategies that will help you move toward a better work-life balance.

1. Identify your priorities and commitments that are non-negotiable

Most of us have things we really must do and can’t change. However, taking the time to identify what really matters to you empowers you to uncover things that may be subject to change and question whether spending time in these areas supports your desire for more balance. When you find such opportunities ask yourself “Does this energize me or drain my energy?” The idea is to identify things you can drop or perhaps give to someone else. At that point, you can decide if something is still worth your time. Also, practicing this exercise on a regular basis will enable you to consciously choose to bring more joy and balance into your life.

2. Commit to a daily schedule

This may be counter-intuitive to those you don’t like structure. However, taking the time to plan your schedule actually gives you more freedom. Organizing your time this way gives you a clear sense of your daily commitments and allows you to be more intentional with your time. In addition, you’ll see opportunities in your schedule where you can take some down time or schedule activities that you love to do, but may not have had time for previously.

3. Commit your time selectively

Most of us are faced with numerous obligations every day. However, it’s essential to recognize that in many cases, you do have a choice in where you commit your time. If you start paying attention to things that are within your control to change, you may find opportunities you hadn’t previously considered. For example, many of us over-extend ourselves by saying yes to things that are time consuming and not really important to us. These are areas of opportunity to step back and evaluate whether you have the choice to say no. In these cases, you can decline and decide to take care of yourself, rather than pleasing someone else.

4. Take time for self-care

Taking time for self-care is without question, one of the most important factors for a healthy work-life balance. It’s very easy to put yourself last if you aren’t conscious about your needs in this area. If you can’t remember the last time you did something just for yourself, you may be setting yourself up for burnout. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, it’s still possible for you to do small things to take care of yourself. It could be as simple as meditating for 5 or 10 minutes in the morning or scheduling time for breaks during your workday. The point is to make a conscious choice to unplug. These small daily practices are cumulative and will make a positive contribution to your overall quality of life in the long run.

5. Have a plan

Having a written plan identifying the changes you intend to make increases your chances of success and will help you stick with the commitments you have made to yourself. You can get started today by printing a copy of my Work-Life Balance Action Plan.

Keep in mind that even if you have tried to make changes in the past and weren’t able to stick with it, it’s never too late to start again. That being said, making small changes at first is the best approach. Once you have some successes, you can keep building from there.