Published on 13 February 2019

Author: Kimberley Coehoorn
Content manager at Crossphase

I have always struggled with work-life balance. Sometimes it feels like we have to do so much at the same time, it drives us crazy. Some things give so much stress because they feel like harsh obligations, yet another thing we must do. Sounds familiar?

Al those musts

My story begins at the start of my career. With a lot going on at work, my head would often feel jam-packed with thoughts, lists, stuff. I felt I was being inefficient. By the end of the day I was already thinking about everything I had to do the next day. On top of that I had a busy social life. My work life started to spill over into my private life and vice versa.

At work I was easily distracted. As soon as an email came in I dropped everything I was doing. The same thing happened whenever someone would come up to my desk. The constant switching from one thing to the next cost me so much energy.

Time for change

After a few years of doing this, I decided it was time to make a change. I took a course that taught me how to plan my work. Through this course I found out I wasn’t the best at saying “no”, which makes sense because disappointing people is my least favourite thing to do. The course gave me a new perspective though. It made me see that it is ok to say “no” as long as you have a good reason.

What did I change?

  1. Create an overview: by creating a complete overview of all my work and tasks it became much easier to manage my time.
  2. Prioritize: by prioritizing my work I could see what needed to be done right away and what could wait. Those distracting emails were suddenly not so distracting anymore; they could wait. I blocked one moment every day to clean up my mailbox. This way I took control over my own priorities.
  3. To do lists: I love to do lists. Crossing off tasks during the day made me feel efficient and on top of my game.
  4. Task descriptions: by taking the time to write a good description of a task I knew exactly what needed to be done to complete it and how much time it would take. When tasks are unclear, I found myself losing a lot of valuable time trying to find out what exactly needed to be done. I answered questions such as: Do I need others to help me? How can I approach this task? How much time will it take me? Additionally, I always planned a little extra time for unexpected situations.
  5. Avoid distractions: I started to say “no” more often to help me stay focused. I didn’t mind switching off from noise around me to keep focus on my goal. I’d temporarily switch off my phone or turn off my email notifications to finish an important task. Headphones with good music also worked really well for me.

The world changes very rapidly and the same thing is true for your workday. It is no longer about the number of hours, it is about the output. You can’t change time, but you can change your own mindset. How do you use your time?

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