• Advice

10 practical ways to create work-life balance

What’s this -- another work/life balance blog post? Yep. But! I promise I’m not going to try to get philosophical with you about how to juggle this and that. No thought exercises here. Instead, let’s be real: you probably have some habits that you could change to make your life a lot easier.

Here are 10 practical ways to maintain work/life balance -- and yes, you can make any or all of these changes today.

1. Stop checking your email on your phone!

Look, I know maybe no one’s told you this before, but… you look really dumb when you refresh your smartphone over and over waiting for new emails. Put that away, turn on alerts if you need to, and separate your email accounts -- you don’t need all the emails, all the time. I promise.

There. Hear that? That’s silence. Doesn’t it feel great?

2. Stop half-assing your work!

Multitasking is one thing, doing bad work is another. Stop half-assing your work and give it your complete energy -- turn off the TV, close Gchat (I know, that cuts deep), and just do the thing. Feel like you’re flagging? Just take a break. Don’t try to pretend to work and get nothing done, while not allowing yourself a chance to relax.

3. Cut out distractions

Actually, why not just cut out distractions altogether? Unplug and work longhand for a while. Or use an app like Self Control to temporarily remove your access to the internet. Yes, it hurts. But this is good medicine.

4. Use a timekeeping method to keep focused on your work

Work/life balance is really all about timekeeping. So try a timekeeping method to stay focused on your work and hold yourself accountable. The pomodoro method is a personal favorite of mine, since my attention span’s so short. You can also try an app like Toggl or RescueTime if that’s your speed.

5. Or use this time assets and debts method

“A great way to manage productivity is to adapt your life and business to-do list into a balance sheet and approach actions or choices as either time assets or time debts. A time asset is an action or choice that will ultimately save you time in the future, whereas a time debt is an action or choice that will cost you additional time.”

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**6. Use the 45-15 method to get little things done **

A constant source of annoyment: little errands. Emails, dishes, laundry, whatever. Use the 45-15 method to get all those pesky tasks done.

7. Learn how to say no

Say no in a way that gets you more projects, and you just made a whole bunch of time for yourself without lifting a finger.

8. Maximize your income without doing more work

Same reasoning here. If you can maximize your income without doing more work, you’ll automatically free up time for yourself. It’s not doing more work -- it’s working smarter. And when you work smarter, you’re a lot happier.

9. Join a coworking space or set up a home office

Sometimes work/life imbalance arises when your work and your life are in the same place. Joining a coworking space is a great step toward setting some boundaries. But if that’s not your style, instead of working in your bedroom (or god forbid, your bed), try setting up a home office in your kitchen or living room. Or if all of those are the same thing, and if you live in New York, they probably are… move things around so that you have a new designated space to work. It doesn’t take much -- just a change of location can help ease the tension between a heavy load and the need for free time.

10. Plan vacations for yourself

It sounds luxurious, but vacations are doable. And they help keep you sane. No, it doesn’t have to be a weeklong affair somewhere tropical, or even mean going out of town. Just scheduling -- this is the key word here -- a vacation from work means you’re setting aside time to chill out, recover, and gear up to get more great things done.

Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She believes in never checking your work email after midnight.