Stop trying to make work-life balance happen; it’s not going to happen. When you really consider the phraseology, true “balance” is essentially non-existent, yet we still search for answers on how to obtain and maintain it. You will find that the term “work-life integration,” which suggests marrying one’s personal life with their work life, is on the gradual incline. Or maybe, in layman’s terms, we are realizing that it is all simply better described as “a juggling act.”

Millennials are joining the workforce and influencing change at every level. Employees are increasingly taking stock in a healthier quality of life with increased flexibility. This translates into not having to sacrifice family life, marriage, mobility and creative outlets for the sake of holding down a traditional 9-to-5 job.

Given that there is no true balance, here are some general tips for making things happen that will leave people wondering how in the world you manage to do it all!

1. Get your day started early

You’re probably saying, “Define early.” By early mornings, we’re talking between 6 and 6:30 a.m. No matter your spiritual beliefs, be sure to squeeze in a few moments of quiet time upon waking just to self-care through prayer/meditation and exercise. As a mom, it’s a miracle when my children sleep past 7 a.m. I don’t consider myself to necessarily be a morning person, but once I’m up, I’m up! And to be completely honest, I do some of my best thinking in the mornings. Plus, it’s the ONLY time my house is completely silent.

work-life balance is a myth that makes us feel like we're failing if we haven't mastered it
Photo: Viktor Hanacek

You and I both feel strongly about sleep, I’m sure, but there will be times when you will need to sacrifice an hour or two in order to get important things closed out. However, log off and go to bed at a reasonable hour (i.e., on a late night, you might establish beforehand that you will not stay up working past midnight).

Establish a hard stopping or

cut-off time.

To be honest, you’ll be completely useless trying to put out a quality product when dead tired. I haven’t been about that all-nighter life since college, so NO THANKS to that! Without proper rest, you will likely be no good to yourself, much less to others.

2. Time-management and prioritization

“There are just not enough hours in the day!” This is said so often, but let’s flip the script and evaluate how you’re actually utilizing your time. It’s a fact that there is nothing you can do to add more than 24 hours to a day, so why stress over something that can’t be changed? However, what you do have control over is how you use your time.

I control how I utilize my time.

Seriously, take a look at any “down-time” or wasted time (i.e., excessively surfing social media, color-coordinating your wardrobe, etc.) and hone ways to add in some of those priority tasks to eliminate having to stress over them later in the day or week. When at work, consider the occasional “working lunches,” where you might eat at your desk and work on something on your priority list (i.e., schedule appointments, write a blog post, research, update calendar, etc.).

3. Use organizational tools

Organization will keep you from going crazy.

We have all of this advanced technology for a reason and there is literally no excuse to be crazy unorganized. Use apps, calendars, smartphones, planners, digital reminders, etc. and make the tools work on your behalf.

4. Set hard-nosed boundaries 

I have made it super clear that I will not sacrifice my family and health for a 9-to-5 job. Of course, get your work done efficiently and effectively while on the clock, but unplug at the appropriate times. If you’re super productive in the workplace, there should be no added expectation for you to continue your shift off the clock. And don’t be fooled — longer hours do not necessarily equate to productivity! Efficiency is key! When you’re off the clock, that is your time to focus on your personal life and projects. If you’re going to log extra hours, give your energy to something you absolutely love.

5. Date nights, family fun nights, and “me” time

This is self-explanatory. The best thing a person can give their significant other, children and family is TIME. And remember, quality time does not have to amount to money — Netflix, walks around the neighborhood, family exercise, window-shopping, coffee-shop talk, family game night, eating meals together…the possibilities are endless! Be present and put in the time with your loved ones; they just want you.

Time is a valuable gift that will not be returned to us when wasted.

Don’t forget to take some downtime for yourselves, complete with the things that you love and that make you happy. Whether it be reading books, exercising, shopping at Target or watching HGTV – by any means, take care of yourselves.

6. Be selfish with your time

Being a “yes” man/woman is a recipe for disaster. It is totally okay to not accept every delegated task or invitation in your mailbox and inbox. You are human and cannot be everywhere at once or everything to everybody. Unless, of course,  you have a clone and all the time in the world. There will be times where you will have to stand firm and use the power of “No.” Don’t wear yourself thin to be a people-pleaser.

“No.” Learn it. Use it.

7. Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!

As a Type A personality, it’s a bit difficult to hand over the reigns when it comes to managing some important tasks inside and outside the home. It’s common to experience burnout by trying to be a perfectionist and too proud to accept a helping hand from others. Start leaning on your support system more to fill in the gaps on your behalf. We are in this together.

Stop stressing over the small things. Care less about the dishes in the sink (for a very brief period of time, of course) or the toys scattered all over the living room. It’s ok to let things just “be” sometimes. Channel that energy elsewhere.

8. Use your sick leave and vacation time

This is earned leave folks, and statistics have shown that Americans are leaving their paid sick and vacation leave on the table every single year. It’s really sad to think that some struggle to use just five days of vacation in a given year. And listen, there is no reason why people should have 100+ hours of leave racked up! How Sway?! It’s baffling. It doesn’t have to be some exotic destination. “Staycations” and “sleepcations” are just as clutch.

How have you been managing work and life? I want to hear your thoughts…sound off!