Thankfully, I love what I do—marketing—so working hard, long hours doesn’t necessarily disrupt my work-life balance.
Even working 50-60 hours/week, I’m still able to spend plenty of time with friends and family, traveling, mountain biking, reading, writing, and occasionally binging on Netflix.
The other secret to my work-life balance is my mastery of time, productivity, and living/working efficiently.
My North Star metric is time—specifically, time spent doing what I love. Identifying time as my North Star metric has helped me use my time more wisely.
Case in point, I installed a timer in my home office that counts down the seconds, hours, and days to my forty-fifth birthday. Seeing seconds tick away has forced me to identify small, yet impactful ways to be more productive and make the most of my time—both in how I work and how I live.
Unfortunately, not everyone loves their job and not everyone thinks about time in such a finite way, so I pulled together some ways you can streamline your life and save some time on the process.
These ten tips will help you make the most of your time, free up your schedule, and hopefully afford you more time to expend doing the things you love.
- Use a password manager.
In addition to being an unnecessary waste of time, typing your password makes it more vulnerable to hacks, errors, and the likelihood it may become compromised. I recommend LastPass.
- Multitask the mundane.
Listen to a book during your morning commute, read/respond to emails while waiting in line or on an elevator, call your parents while you walk the dog, and find ways to eliminate wasted time throughout your day. Note: I don’t suggest you multitask everything—only the routines that require minimal attention.
- Reduce the frequency and length of meetings.
Most meetings should last ten minutes, some up to thirty minutes, and very few over thirty minutes. As manager, reduce the number of meetings that require your attendance. Instead, encourage, equip, and train your team to make decisions independently of your input.
- Set up a Calendly page.
Use Calendly to schedule your meetings and eliminate the back-and-forth business of “what time works best?”… Calendly also makes rescheduling effortless—unless of course, you’re the one cancelling the meeting.
- Check email less often.
Check your email no more than seven times per day and setup rules/filters to automatically archive emails you don’t need to read but do need to save. Then, unsubscribe from anything and everything you don’t actually need. I work in digital marketing and admittedly unsubscribe from every form of email marketing. Disclaimer: email marketing does work and has one of the highest ROIs vs. other marketing channels—it just doesn’t work on me.
- Use Front.
Front is by far the best email reader I’ve ever used. It treats your inbox like a task list—each email being a task—and lets you “complete” (archive) emails, schedule and snooze messages, and has a powerful set of time-saving tools: canned responses, email sequences, automated rules, and more.
- Turn off unimportant notifications.
Do you really need to know the moment someone likes, favorites, tags, or shares your selfie? No. The only notifications you really need are notifications from your calendar, phone (calls/texts), and team communication apps. Turn off all unimportant desktop and push notifications. Also, don’t be afraid to slip your phone into “Do not disturb” mode.Hint: the underlying theme of #5 and #7 is: focus and reduce/eliminate interruptions.
- Get an oversized water cup.
In addition to being a common thread for all carbon-based lifeforms, water helps you avoid headaches, rids your body of toxins, and improves brain function. Bigger cup = more water = fewer refills = less time wasted at the water cooler + a happier, healthier you.
- Always use the fastest route.
Google Maps uses traffic data to calculate and suggest the fastest route to your destination. Note: the fastest route is not always the simplest or shortest distance, so even familiar destinations may have a better route depending on the road conditions, time of day, traffic, etc.
- Automate monthly bill payments.
Automate payments for your recurring monthly bills, and review charges/debts against your account on a monthly basis.
For argument’s sake, let’s estimate that by doing all of these things, you’ll save 30 minutes each day or 3.5 hours each week.
Over the course of a year, you’ll have saved 182 hours! That’s plenty of time to pick up a new hobby, take a family vacation, learn a new language, or re-watch every episode of Mad Men…twice.
Achieving the right work-life balance is a bit tricky. But, if you apply these ten techniques and tools with practice and repetition, you’ll quickly find you have more time to do the things you love.
What tips do you have for improving work-life balance?