A Doctor’s 8 Habits For Improving Work Life Balance

    As adults, we hear the word balance all the time. But truly finding a balance between work, health, relationships, and personal time can be difficult. Personally, this was the biggest challenge I faced when I started working 6 years ago. As a medical professional, my work comes with a busy schedule, and finding balance between my work and my personal life is hard. However I also knew that the key to being productive at work is to enjoy time off. Over time I found through trial and error 8 habits that can improve work life balance and as a result, the quality of my life tremendously. Today, I’d like to share with you eight of those habits.

    8 Habits That Improve The Work Life Balance

    1.  Use a timer & work with purpose

    Sometimes we won’t utilize the time we dedicate to work successfully. Instead of being focused, we are distracted. When working, it’s important to work intensively and move quickly but with awareness. Be mindful of how long it takes to complete a task, and be true to yourself about how many times you get distracted in the process.  Knowing this will help you manage your time better. Studies show that the average attention span in adults is only 20 minutes. A solution to the problem of always being distracted is using a timer.  When the timer is on, focus on the task at hand only.  Once your time is up, take a short break to do an enjoyable activity – maybe a walk, having a snack, a quick stretch or even a quick meditation. Separating work into time-chunks punctuated by a break can dramatically improve workflow.

    2.  Make a list

    Making a daily list is a true game-changer. It will help you stay focused and motivated. This list should include your non-negotiables as well as the “nice to haves”. An efficient way to craft a list is to: 

    • keep it simple
    • avoid setting yourself unrealistic expectations for the day
    • break down big tasks into smaller ones
    • cross off a task every time you finish it over
    • include one personal item on your to-do list

     I promise you this will help you feel much more accomplished and motivate you to keep going

    3.  Reward yourself

    This is a game-changer tool if like me, you can be  a procrastinator. Until we do not feel the pressure of having a time limit, we do not work as hard. But finishing work on time leaves more room to relax and enjoy. I have found that rewarding myself for finishing a job is a great way to keep me going. I am most likely to get a project done if I see some instant reward. Use this technique carefully and choose something simple as a reward, like watching a show or going out. This motivation will really allow you to be productive & improve your work life balance.

    4.  Establish a work end time

    Whether you work in an office or work from home, choosing a time to finish work is essential. It is a necessity to establish a time when work is over for the day and stick to it. One thing I recommend is keeping a simple rule: do not talk about work after working hours. This is a nice way to separate your work life with a life you would like to have after hours. 

    5.  Get it out of the way

    Not everyone has the chance to work on what they love, but once you get to do it, it does not even feel like work anymore. I will encourage you to work towards being able to have a living by doing something that you love and enjoy. Until then, finish off the things that you’re procrastinating first. Get to them as soon as you can so you can get them out of the way

    6.  When you are not working, do something that you love

    Finding a project or hobby that you enjoy will improve the quality of your free time. Spending your free time doing something that you do not care too much about sometimes is necessary (like laundry, or groceries for example, but remember to also prioritise something joyous in. Remember having free time that’s of quality is more important than quantity free time.  I guarantee that if you do an activity that you love, even for a short while, time will be filled with pleasure.

    7.  Exercise

    It is sometimes hard to find the time to take care of yourself. At first, exercising can be challenging. However, in the long run, you will find that it becomes addicting. You only have to do a few minutes every day. It will help you relax and stay healthy. Exercise is also shown to improve focus so that when you are working, you’re more productive. A study in mice and humans showed that as little as 30 minutes of exercise will improve concentration, personality expression, decision making, and social behaviour for up to 2 hours after the exercise is done. Exercising the mind is also very important. Meditation is a great tool to find a place of calm. This improves your mental health and relationships and also how well you perform at work.

    8.  Planning ahead

    It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but every minute that you spent planning will save you time. every task that you plan will take you 10 minutes less to complete. Planning ahead can save you up to two hours everyday. Plan your day the night before, by giving yourself a heads up on how your day will look like, you will be mentally prepared. planning your day will help you create a routine that will provide structure and discipline. 

    Planning also includes meal prepping. Preparing your meals in advance will save you time during the week and will guarantee that you eat healthy. Meal prepping will make you feel more productive, you will feel more accomplished by keeping healthy habits.

    Some Final Tips

    Be honest with yourself. A very demanding goal can take you to cut time on exercising, social interactions, and hobbies, but these goals are not sustainable. Goals are great, but they should be broken down into smaller sub goals that are more easy to carry out and think about. If you need to cut down something to save time,  evaluate how long you spend doing low-value activities like binge-watching shows, and cut those out first. 

    Do not forget to take a break when you feel you need one. In life, there will be times where one of the four pillars- work, health, hobbies, and relationships-  can take more of your attention, and that is ok. The key is to identify once that period is over and try to go back to balance. Remember, balance for different times of your life will look different and it always requires a dance. 

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