By Eleanor Mirembe

The importance of working hard and getting stuff done was drilled into me from a very early age. We all know that heady feeling you get when you are told how great of a job you have done. Whether you are in school, formally employed or running your own hustle; being branded as a high-quality worker is the ultimate compliment.

I have been taking a professional development course and our class decided to explore what makes a healthy work-life balance. In general, many of us go through the daily motions of life, never actually stopping to ask ourselves vital questions like “Is this the best I can offer?” or “Is this the best I will ever be?” We’re too caught up in an unhealthy work-life balance to see the forest from the trees.

I have come to define a healthy work-life balance as the ability to set realistic deadlines in the workplace that allow you to be effective and productive while taking time for yourself to explore the things that interest you.

Work is important, but staying sane and healthy is even more so. So if you’ve been searching for ways to achieve a favorable balance between the realities of work and life, here are a few of my golden tips:

/1/. It is an individual choice

You are the only person that can make the separation between work and life. Work comes and goes, but you are responsible for monitoring your needs. Scheduling some time to yourself, whether it is taking a few breaks throughout the day or following through with weekly Spa Day Saturdays, is vital, and your body will thank you for it later. Commit to your personal time as you would a professional or school event.

/2/. Leave work at the office & life at home

Many of us have the tendency of treating after business hours and weekends as extensions of the workday. Worse still, some of us do not take days off and, when we do, we leave an open invitation to be contacted by the office in case of an “emergency”, i.e. anything. This cuts down on your de-stress time which may negatively impact your productivity at work.

In the same way, do not let life get the best of you and distract you in the work place. It might sound hard, but respecting time allocations for each space is necessary and will create a healthy balance between the two.

/3/. Prioritizing is key

When I first got my current job, I always thought that staying longer at the office meant I was working harder than my colleagues; until my line manager opened my eyes. Staying at the office after hours meant  that I was not good at prioritizing my tasks or planning my time wisely.

Oftentimes we think that setting priorities only applies to work situations, but it’s just as important (if not more so) in our personal lives. To start prioritizing, create tasks to accomplish and realistic timelines in which they can be completed. All my mornings start with me writing out a compartmentalized to-do list which includes: “running tasks” (things I need to follow up on), “short-term tasks”, “long term tasks” and, lastly, “nice to get done tasks” (these are tasks that need to be accomplished but have no deadline). By doing so, I am able to know what I need to prioritize, rank as urgent and tick off my list.

/4/. Make time to workout

This might not be everybody’s cup of tea but  low-impact activities, like walking and swimming, are ways to workout too. When schedules get busy at the office, it is easy to forget and compromise your physical activity time; however, making your workout a priority is important for the body and mind.

A workout is an effective stress-reducer. It not only releases endorphins into the body, which inhibit the transmission of pain signals throughout the body, but it also boosts your mood; working out can motivate you to be more productive.

/5/. Switch off

In this day and age, we are addicted to our electronic devices. But at least once a week, whether it be for a couple of hours or an entire day, take it back to the old school. Switch off your phones and laptops, log out of your social media accounts and read a book or hang out with friends. Being connected shows the outside world that you are always available and open to being reached.

To reiterate, work will always be there. But the moments and memories you make will not. A day spent today will never be regained. I hope these golden tips will help you find a healthy balance between life and work.