Work is an essential part of life. Working generates an income to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Workers also make massive contributions to society as a whole. They provide valuable services and products that increase the overall quality of life for everyone.

However, it’s essential to recognize that work isn’t everything. There are so many other aspects of life that are worth pursuing. Making time for hobbies, entertainment, and even simple rest is essential for a long and happy life.

The struggle is making time for these extra things when work is often so demanding. Your work-life balance can quickly become one-sided, leaning more toward work than life. You need a plan to regain and retain the balance you desire. Here are some ways that can help you to do so:

1. Work More Efficiently

Have you heard of the phrase “work smarter, not harder”? It’s important to work hard, but working more efficiently is often the smarter play. You can get more done without working harder, which can only be a win. Combine that with working hard, and the amount of work you can accomplish will be astonishing.

One way many people are working more efficiently is through automation. Through artificial intelligence, smaller tasks can be entirely automated. This frees up your time to work on larger projects and finish everything in less time. More work completed means more time for play and personal time.

For example, you can automate your billing, calendar reminders, and even the appliances in your home. Every little item you can automate is one less task on your plate to worry about. Test out everything from automated email responses to scheduled investment contributions to see what adjustments make your life easier.

2. Block Off Time

To add life into your work-life, you need to block out the time for it. Time blocking is a popular time management method that can be used here. It’s as simple as it sounds. You create blocks of time in your calendar where other activities or events cannot interfere. All of your time and attention is to be spent on that task and that task alone.

When you create a block of time in your online calendar, keep it there firmly. It doesn’t do much good if you’re going to cave and rearrange your schedule at the slightest whim. Of course, emergencies happen. You shouldn’t hold yourself to a block of time for pickleball when a family member is in dire need.

The important thing is to use time blocking to make time for everything you need and want to accomplish. In particular, it can help you set proper boundaries between your personal and professional life. If you have already committed to a family activity, ensure it happens. Ultimately, the people you love are the most important thing anyway.

3. Improve Collaboration and Delegation

An online calendar can be more than a personal tool. There are plenty of features that promote collaboration and coordination. Working with others can help everyone involved improve their work-life balance with a little teamwork. Many hands make light labor, as they say.

If you have a work calendar separate from your personal calendar, it can be shared with coworkers and associates. You can also elect to share specific events with the appropriate parties. All participants will have access to the details and important details they need to fully contribute. Your personal events can be kept private to yourself.

As a leader, you can also use delegation to lighten the load. This doesn’t mean you should force your employees on all your tasks. Rather, you should make sure that everyone is taking an equal share. This ensures that all work is getting done and everyone has an equal chance to keep their work-life balance in check.

4. Prioritize Tasks and Activities

Some items on your to-do list are simply more important than others. You may recognize that, but prioritizing these lists can still be challenging. For example, tackling the more manageable tasks is the path of least resistance. However, when time is limited, you leave the heavy lifting for the end of the day. You end up stressed, scrambling, and potentially working overtime to complete the larger, more important tasks.

Start by writing out everything you need to accomplish. This can include daily work tasks, home responsibilities, and the season’s baseball games you want to attend. Now, try to organize everything in the order they need to be completed. This will take some practice but become a more natural habit over time.

A strategy that you can follow here is the Eisenhower Matrix. This helps you prioritize your task list based on four qualifications. You organize your tasks based on what is urgent, non-urgent, important, or unimportant. It’s a simple yet effective way to decide how to start your day or what you want to do next.

5. Plan Ahead

One thing that will muddle up your work-life balance more than almost anything else is poor planning. If your calendar’s future days and weeks are blank, you won’t successfully organize them. A lack of planning may cause you to fall behind on work, miss forgotten deadlines, or procrastinate projects that come back to bite you.

Open up your calendar and change the views on it. Start by viewing the upcoming week. Have you taken the time to write out all of your responsibilities? By doing so, you can look for ways to spread out your time more efficiently and avoid accidentally double-booking yourself.

Next, zoom out to your view for the entire month. The emptiness in your calendar likely doesn’t reflect how busy you actually are. Plan for things days and weeks in advance so that you’re always prepared to tackle any challenge and make time for any family matter.

6. Utilize Every Calendar Tool Available

Your online calendar is full of a myriad of helpful tools. Take advantage of them! These aren’t just here for the aesthetic. There are real-world applications that they can be used for, including improving your work-life balance.

Something as simple as color-coding can help you strike the perfect balance. You can use one color, such as red, to designate work events and tasks. A different color, such as blue, will represent everything associated with home and family. This will help you better visualize where your balance currently stands and what adjustments need to be made.

Some online calendars have time analytic software built in so you can look at your time balance in a different way. Numbers and charts can tell you how much time you spend in meetings compared to family dinners. Concrete numbers also make it easier to set tangible work-life balancing goals that can be recorded and achieved.

A calendar is so much more than a phone widget or a stack of paper telling you what day it is. When used correctly, you can maximize the value you get out of life in many aspects. Focus on that work-life balance, which can soon become a reality, not just a far-fetched aspiration.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Darina Belonogova; Pexels; Thank you!