Advertising
Advertising

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Regain Your Work-Life Balance

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Regain Your Work-Life Balance
Flat Tire

Last night my 11-year-old came into my office (9 p.m. to be exact, foreshadow, foreshadow), and said, “Mom, can you please get off the computer and be with me?” I should know better, right? After all, achieving work-life balance is one of the staples of the coaching diet. I turned off the computer and we sat on the couch reading White Fang aloud. I’m not sure which was worse: not being with him, or scaring him to death, but that’s beside the point… I hope. Was there really anything so important that I couldn’t have shut the computer off at say, oh, 5 p.m.? Truly? No.

Advertising

So, take a look and ask yourself, “Is this me?”

Advertising

You know you’re out of balance when…

Advertising

  1. Your mail sits unopened for a week and you pay your bills late
  2. You think that the more plates you can spin, the more you can have it all
  3. You keep declining invitations with friends
  4. You can’t remember the last time you talked with your brother
  5. You forget appointments and blow off commitments (like working out, eating healthy)
  6. You stop writing your task lists for the week and fly by the seat of your pants
  7. You haven’t synched your PDA in weeks
  8. You don’t care if you’re not on track with your plan
  9. You can’t remember what’s in your plan
  10. You don’t answer your phone or you’re always on the phone

Isn’t “having it all” a hamster-wheel myth borne of fear?

Let’s stop the bloodletting and take a look. Making quality-of-life shifts is much more sustainable when the solutions come authentically and naturally from within. We achieve that by asking questions, making inquiries, and recommitting ourselves to actions that are connected to our values.

Advertising

To get yourself back on track, it’s helpful to ask yourself some big, tough questions now and then. These
10 questions will bring resonance to your choices and heart to your actions:

  1. What is it to be completely fulfilled in life?
  2. What values, qualities of being must be present for you to have a fulfilled life?
  3. How would honoring those values impact your experience of work-life balance?
  4. What are you committed to? (Not goals… goals are the doings that happen inside the field of commitments.)
  5. What actions give you the least joy?
  6. If you were committed to an organized, energetic, juicy, fulfilling experience in your work and life, how would that change your perspective about #5?
  7. What two or three actions could you take right now that would create the most impact on your wellbeing?
  8. What three things do you do in your daily life have absolutely no relevance to work or life fulfillment?
  9. What are you willing to give up?
  10. When will you commit to answering all these questions?

No, really: When will you commit to answering all these questions?

More by this author

How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward for a Happier Life How to Start a Startup Fast: 5 Essential Steps How To Be More Action-Oriented: Obstacles And Tips How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide) 9 Free Language Learning Apps That Are Fun to Use

Trending in Productivity

1 Your Night Routine Guide to Sleeping Better & Waking Up Productive 2 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life 3 How to Increase Willpower and Be Mentally Tough 4 9 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Life 5 How to Influence People and Make Them Feel Good

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

Advertising

1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

Advertising

There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

Advertising

So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

Advertising

And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next