Make a Clean Break from Work Mode with These Work-Life Balance Tips

With Mother’s Day behind us and Father’s Day fast approaching – not to mention a fast-fleeting summer season that beckons – this is a time of year when many of us evaluate our work/life balance, or lack thereof.

For today's professionals, work is no longer a place, but a "mode." And more workers are finding work/life balance to be an elusive ideal rather than an achievable objective. One of the drawbacks of being able to work from anywhere, at any time is the expectation, whether company or self-imposed, that we should be available to work from anywhere, at any time.

To help you strike a better balance, here are a few tips to help you reclaim the "life" part of your work/life equation.

 

Set priorities

Include your work and your private time in this activity. Setting clear priorities helps you tackle the essential tasks while in work mode while letting go of non-essential tasks in favor of time with family, friends, or just time needed to unwind.

Instead of tackling low-priority items as one-off tasks while you’re off the clock, try bundling similar tasks and doing them together while in work mode for greater efficiency. For this activity to be effective, be sure to treat your private time with the same respect you give to important meetings at work.

 

Plan a personal activity you look forward to each day

By planning an activity that can’t be replaced by work, you automatically give yourself an excuse to stay away from work.

It doesn’t need to be anything big like, “I’ll go whitewater rafting after work. No one can expect me to answer the phone while I’m bouncing through rapids.” No, it can be as simple as, “I’m planning to watch the ballgame on TV with my kids tonight.” Just plan something, anything that takes precedence over work.  

Take a true vacation

We’ve all taken a “vacation” day where we’ve received the “sorry to bother you, but…” call or email. If you’re dealing with (or even thinking about) work, then what you’re not doing is relaxing and refreshing. Small business productivity is highest when employees have a chance to recharge their batteries. All employees should try to completely disconnect for at least two weeks per year. If you absolutely must check in, set aside a small window of time each day, preferably in the morning, so that you can put the phone away and relax the rest of the day.  

Go mobile

We all have downtime. And with mobile, most everyone can knock out a few email replies when we’re waiting for a meeting to start, waiting for our turn with the stylist or waiting for an oil change to finish. But the real advantage of mobile is when you can save time by completing tasks when it makes the most sense to complete them.

Take expense reporting. Without mobile capabilities, you’d need to save the paper receipt from your Friday afternoon function, file it, and then sort it with the rest of your expense paperwork.

With a mobile app like Concur Expense, you can simply snap a photo of the receipt with your smartphone and submit it with your expense report while finishing your drink. And if your company is like most companies with automated expense management solutions, you’ll get reimbursed early-to-mid next week. There’s no need to head back to the office or have a dreaded expense reporting task hanging over your head – just get it done on the spot and make a clean break from work mode.  

Do your best Monty Hall/Wayne Brady impression

Try to make a deal with your colleagues. We all want to protect our personal time, but nobody wants to be the only one who demands it.Ask them to respect your boundaries and you’ll do the same for them. If anyone feels compelled to work at night, they can still send emails by scheduling them to arrive first thing the next morning (because some of us will never be able to resist checking).  

Keep improving

You aim to improve processes at work, right? So why not set aside a small amount of time to evaluate your work/life balance? After all, your happiness depends on it. And when you’re happy, you can be a better parent, a better child, a better friend.

What’s the first step toward improving your work/life balance?

 

Increase employee satisfaction and the productivity of your small business simultaneously. Start your free Concur test drive today.

 

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