If you have a worn copy of James Clear’s Atomic Habits on your bookshelf and a Google search history filled with terms like “how to wake up earlier,” then you’ve probably spent a lot of time in search of ways to improve your life.
Achieving work-life balance and thus happiness often feels like a never-ending endeavor. And the amount of advice on the internet — good and bad — can be overwhelming.
To save you some time (and from having 100 Twitter influencers tell you to take an ice bath), I’ve scoured the internet and rounded up the best tips for achieving a healthy work-life balance:
1. Create a Better Morning Routine
It makes sense that to change your day you’d need to start at the beginning: your morning.
Put your phone on airplane mode before going to sleep. This will allow your body to wake up in its own way, rather than with a barrage of notifications and immediate screen time
Make your bed. Accomplishing one thing a the beginning of the day sets you up for success, no matter what else happens
Do some type of movement, whether it’s 10 pushups or a yoga move
Meditate using an app or self-guided practice. This trains you for “less emotional reactivity” and helps you handle frustrating moments that might come up during the day
You know what they say about getting up on the right side of the bed — it can really make all the difference.
2. Conduct a Quarterly Self Check-In
If you’ve been on Twitter in the past year, you’ve likely seen a post from Sahil Bloom.
And that’s because he has a near-constant stream of ideas when it comes to improving your work and life.
One technique he suggests is conducting a quarterly self check-in. The process is broken down into three steps: reflect, assess, and adjust.
Reflect: Review your calendar to understand which tasks created energy and which tasks drained it. The goal is to focus on more of what fulfills you
Assess: Ask yourself what your biggest long-term goal is and whether or not your actions and processes are aligning with that goal
Adjust: Aim to make more time for energy-creating activities that are aligned with your big goals and reduce anything that stands in the way of your progress
Bloom says the process takes about 60 minutes and that it’s most helpful to write it out in pen and paper.
3. Manage Your Time Wisely
It’s hard to talk about work-life balance without talking about time itself. After all, it’s the constraints of the days, weeks, and months that leaves us striving for stability.
Eliminate half-work: Clear calls the division of your time and energy (think: answering a barrage of emails and texts while trying to get a work assignment done) half-work. He recommends devoting time to singular tasks, and removing all other distractions, in order to be fully present in your work and thus more productive.
Do the most important thing first: You’re more likely to make good decisions in the beginning of the day, says Clear. Doing the most important thing on your list first improves the odds that it will get done and helps you accomplish one important thing each day as a result.
Reduce the scope: We often find that when we have a long-term goal in mind, our daily schedules can get in the way of our progress. Clear says that you should prioritize the schedule over the scope. This means if your goal is to do one hour of yoga each day, but work goes late and you only have 20 minutes — do the 20-minute workout. Lessening the scope is fine as long as you prioritize sticking to the schedule, which in this case entails doing yoga every day.
4. Prioritize Your Happiness
The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been investigating what makes people happy since 1938, making it the longest-running study of its kind.
And longitudinal research means lots of data: Robert Waldinger, the director of the study, published an entire book called The Good Life on the results.
If you don’t have time to read the book, the short answer is that two things surfaced as being the most important factors for a long, happy life:
Taking care of your physical health (don’t smoke or use drugs, exercise regularly, eat well, stay on top of preventive care, etc.)
Building warm, connected relationships
Even subjects who did have health issues as they aged were bothered less if they also had caring relationships in their lives and people whom they felt close to.
The study is the ultimate argument for the importance of work-life balance and fostering meaningful relationships in and out of the office.
5. Optimize Your Workplace
Some of his tips to boost productivity and focus include:
Alternate sitting and standing at your desk
Get your work done during the most opportune time — not all times of the day are created equal, so pay attention to the time to maximize productivity
Place your screen in the right location — elevating your screen can actually make you feel more alert
Use background sounds to boost focus — white, pink, or brown noise can help focus
Get a bigger space, when possible — there’s a direct correlation between your physical space and your mental capacity
Working from home can be a blessing for many, but it also introduces unique challenges. Implementing some of these light-lift tips could make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day routine.