Mental Health · Physical Health · Workplace Health
No time for work-life balance but want to make it work, read this!
Most people who need more work-life balance don’t have time for it.
If you know you need better work-life balance but don’t have time, or are having difficulties prioritizing it, this article is for you!
One big reason consistency with self-care is so challenging is because of the self-care paradox. We’ve got too much to do already. Self-care can actually be a source of stress and make things worse. Even if self-care is good for us, where are we supposed to find the time?
Having no time for work-life balance can be a blessing in disguise. Read on to find out how.
Yes, there are many disadvantages… but here are 2 ways you can take advantage of your busy schedule to boost your energy and mental health.
No time for work-life balance, use the 80/20 rule.
Oftentimes our to-do lists are overflowing, so if we cut out time for self-care or “work-life balance” that means something else isn’t getting done. That means getting more behind… which means more stress! For some of us, we deliberately avoid working on that “balance” portion of work-life balance for that very reason. For others, it may be less of a conscious decision but intuitively we know that adding more to our plate is not good for our mental health (and so we can’t seem to stay consistently motivated).
In any case, when you’re pressed for time it becomes even more important to be selective with the activities you take on. It’s not uncommon to treat all self-care activities the same, and to try to stack on as many as possible. The thinking is, the more the better. In reality, there is diminishing returns. You’re much better off spending very little time fewer activities that make more of a difference for two reasons:
Reason 1: It will take less of your time, and therefore will add less stress to your plate and fit into your life easier.
Reason 2: You’re going to get more benefit out of the time you do spend, are more likely to enjoy it, and therefore want to do it again.
For these combined reasons, it’s worth applying the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule. Basically, 80% of your results are likely to come from 20% of your efforts. In this case, you may benefit way more from 10 minutes of art than all of: 10 minutes of jogging, meditation, breathing, and prepping meals for the week.
So – if you don’t have a lot of spare time, make sure to use it wisely. Choose something that really fills your cup and makes you feel good, and focus only on that thing. Let go of the rest. A little bit goes a long way.
Set a minimum bar if you don’t have time for work-life balance
Here’s another reason why having little time is actually a benefit to you: it can help you set lower standards.
Wait – low standards? That doesn’t sound like a good thing?
Bare with me.
Context is everything. Setting high standards for feeling good and performing optimally is a good thing. Setting high standards to celebrate and recognize success is not because it hampers the natural learning process and stunts growth.
Celebration and encouragement is so powerful for motivation and doing hard things. Imagine if when you were learning how to walk for the first time your parents didn’t celebrate you? How weird would it be to see two parents scolding their infant for standing up for the first time and “only taking two steps”?
It’s easy to be self-critical and convince ourselves that it’s necessary for achieving high levels of success. “If I’m not hard on myself I’ll be mediocre”. This is a fear-based model of motivation.
This often leads to either quitting a new habit when the going gets tough, or continuing on and hating it. Neither are great for mental health.
Because you don’t have the time to make balance you’re number one priority, you may be willing to try a different approach that works…
Try this: Set a minimum bar for success in addition to your desired “ideal” outcome. For example, if you apply the 80/20 principle you may decide that getting out in nature is what fills your cup.
From there you decide you’d like to make a point of getting out into nature for 1 hour or more 2 days per week. Great, that’s a wonderful “ideal” outcome. However, you’ve currently got barely any time, and probably have a track record of almost zero intentional nature time.
Set a minimum bar for success as an opportunity to recognize your effort.
Example: I will make sure that I get outside for fresh air (intentionally) for 5 minutes each day. That’s doable, and there is still room to stretch that 5 minutes to 20, or 60 minutes when you have time.
The more you can recognize making the effort, the better you will feel about your work-life balance. “Wow, I’m actually working on my work-life balance and improving”. It gets better though because not only will you feel more confident about your work-life balance… with that extra confidence you are more likely to take action on it and MORE time for it!
When you feel better, you will show up better in all areas of your life.
No time for work-life balance is a gift in disguise
For many of us, “no time” is a big hurdle that prevents us from the work-life balance we really want. Underneath that challenge is a secret (not anymore) benefit. The balance you seek can empower you to work harder, accomplish more, feel better about it, AND have more energy for your non-work life. That is the definition of work-life balance.
Be selective and focus on ONE aspect of balance you’re missing in your life (80/20 principle).
Set a minimum bar. It’s great to have an ideal outcome, but also make sure you’re set up for recognizing effort and daily progress!
If you’d like to get started right away, you can check out our free DIY 7 day challenge here: Master your self-care in 5 minutes or less (step by step guide).