How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in Today's Tech-Driven World

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How the new frontier of work culture may be affecting your personal life and how you can beat burn out using these five tips.

Work, work, work. We love the challenge and process of creation, but those of us who are committed to the grind also run the risk of burning out. It seems that no matter what we do, we’ll always have to work a little harder to get ahead.

Emails and text messages go off day and night. And as society shifts away from the traditional nine to five in an office cubicle, many of us find ourselves working at all times of day from various hotspots and cafes.

This shift creates more freedom and flexibility, conducive to working mothers. But as they say, with great freedom comes great responsibility. In this case, the responsibility is to strike that ideal work-life balance.

Life cannot be all work, and we know that. Yet many of us fail to define those boundaries until it’s too late and we can no longer figure out how to redefine them. With the new frontier of work, we need new guidelines and a new rule book.

Ladies, it's okay to say no, and it's okay to not be able to do it all. To help us navigate this newfangled world together, here are a few fantastic tips on maintaining work-life balance:

Define the Day

You may not be a schedule person. Maybe your daily routine is ever-evolving and bouncing around from this to that. If so, you may need to prep for each day a little differently.

Try a standing checklist. On it are items that you need to check off everyday no matter what. Once you’ve blocked out time for these non-negotiables, you can add on the tasks that you need to complete for each specific day. Add in buffer time of 15 minutes here and there. Everything always takes longer than we expect it to. Nothing’s wrong with a varied routine, as long as you stick to the schedule you set each morning.

Know When It’s Time to Step Away

A study by John Pencavel of Stanford University explains that after 50 hours of work a week, our productivity begins to decline. And after 55, it takes a rapid nosedive. More is not better. We think that if we press on and keep working, we can get everything done, but that’s not the case. The break from work is just as important as the work itself. Understanding this key principle renews our perception of time management. If you want to work more efficiently, then sometimes the solution is to stop working.

A Zen student approached a Zen master and asked how long it would take him to achieve enlightenment if he joined the temple.

"Ten years," said the Zen master.

The student asked: "Well how about if I really work hard and double my effort?"

"Twenty years,” the Zen master replied.

Meditations and Brain Breaks

Clarity of mind is essential for high caliber productivity. Starting out the day with a meditation improves your ability to generate and execute ideas. While meditation may not be for you, taking a brain break needs to be.

An excellent study by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her colleagues at USC and MIT discovered that while the brain is in “default mode,” a state of rest associated with taking a break or daydreaming, it remains active. They found that allowing our brains to have this time increases our ability to focus, recall information and plan.

Get Social

We’re not talking about social media here; we’re talking about good, old fashioned, face-to-face socializing. Getting out and about can work wonders for your emotional well-being and overall satisfaction.

Meeting up with our lady friends to chat about our weeks reduces stress. Laughter releases endorphins, creating a cocktail of bliss in our brains.

But socializing doesn’t have to be limited to a night out with the girls. Work smarter, not harder, and cultivate professional networks. Find new pools of creatives and hard workers to mingle with. You never know when having smart, driven friends will come in handy. You can also try challenging your brain by attending a lecture or seminar, and you just might stumble across the inspiration you need to take your work to the next level.

The Power of the “Me Day!”

Everyone needs one even if it’s just a half day. Get your nails done, take a bath, read a book or just sit around and do nothing.

I know some of the mothers out there will laugh at the idea of finding time for these things, but talk to your partner about it. Maybe he’ll be willing to take the kids one night if you do the same for him on another evening.

Single mothers, consider hiring a babysitter or calling up those grandparents. By carving out time for yourself, you’ll be able to show up better for the people around you. We can’t expect to do our best for them when we’re not doing our best for ourselves first.