How to Win the Work-Life Balance Battle

No matter the work, the idea is always put your best foot forward and maintain a level of excellence. It is pretty standard knowledge that those who make their way to the top of their profession have made it there for a number of reasons; but tremendous effort is what seems to be the greatest factor. The flipside of this, of course, is that many of those who are at the top of their “office game” are cellar-dwellers when it comes to an even bigger game – their personal lives.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of those out there who spend way too much time with their personal stuff and not enough time on the professional stuff. Those people are content with where they’re at – but also can be in danger of falling from where they’re at into a much less desirable place: the unemployment line. On the plus side, they’ll have no need for balance at all if they hit that mark…

Most of us, however, find themselves mired in the never-ending struggle to achieve a “work-life” balance. There are so many things coming at us from all sides both professionally and personally that is tough to know what to do and when to do it. Well, I’m hoping these few tips will help you do just that.

Decide to Decide

It’s important to be decisive if you want to win the work-life balance battle. I’m not suggesting you make snap decisions (at least not all the time), but to make timely ones. The longer you delay without progress – meaning you’re simply delaying without deliberating your next move – the harder it will be to find that balance. You’ll be swimming upstream in most cases rather than going with the flow…never a good thing in my books.

Be Okay with Saying “No Way.”

Well, maybe not “no way.” A plain “no” will do just fine.

It’s key to know your limits on both sides of the equation. If you take on more work than you’re capable of doing while still taking care of yourself personally (this includes family and friends, of course), then that aspect of your life will suffer as a result. The same rule applies if you go out and party too much with the gang or keep tabs on social networks at the expense of a work project that simply has to get done. Expect to pay the price on that when it comes to your professional life.

So turn down karaoke night if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Turn down an offer for a sideline if you feel it will take away from your focus more than it will help your long-term career aspirations. You’ll see more positive results by saying “no” sometimes than you will by saying “yes.”

Keep Track

I keep a two planners. One is for work stuff at the office, while the other is for stuff I do outside the office. Most people only have one – and they try to cram everything into it. Good luck with that if you’ve got a lot going on in your life.

I know that this doesn’t work for me…I tried it for years. I felt so overwhelmed by everything that was in my one planner that I felt as if I was failing by not accomplishing everything in the allotted time. I didn’t give myself enough credit for what I was getting done – I was too obsessed with what I wasn’t seeing through to the end. Then I decided that I really led two lives, work and home. My home life includes all of the stuff I do for my family and around the house, as well as my freelance sideline. I keep that stuff in the one planner because much of the stuff I did at home really didn’t require a lot of thought as it was routine (mow the lawn, do the dishes, etc.) and we have a family calendar as well that my wife maintains. So by putting my freelance planning in it I was keeping it separate from my office workload and getting it done. If it was in my work planner I’d see the list of tasks and projects I had going on in a day and would simply run out of gas. I’m also setting myself up for a better chance of success as a result of this method.

(Anything I think of at the office that may pertain to freelance or home stuff I simply jot down in my home planner or Hipster PDA for transfer later. Then I put it away and forget about it until my day at the office is done. It’s a handy trick to have at my disposal.)

The work-life balance is achievable…you just have to want to achieve it. As a wise 1980’s cartoon once said:

“Now you know…and knowing is half the battle.” – GI Joe

I think you know what the other half is.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Sarah Lynn on the 20th January

    Keeping a healthy balance between work and personal life is tough, especially in the web world. I am a web designer trying to balance freelance and a full-time job. It’s tough some days when all you want to do is go home and not work more! But, when you involved with technology there is nothing worse than calling it quits after work is done. Technology changes SO fast that without keeping up and learning new ways to do things, you’ll fall behind and not be at the top of your game. I guess it depends what your end goals are, career and/or social life. Thanks for the post!

  2. Rondal on the 20th January

    Excellent article and I couldn’t agree more. The word “no” just seems to emanate this stigma like it’s some sort of death nail when in fact, when used wisely, it can be a very valuable tool in keeping your sanity.

  3. Anne on the 27th January

    I’ve started to say no more at work and am finding I’m doing a much better job for my clients, the one’s who my focus should be while at work. Good thing for everyone to try.

  4. Jens P. Berget on the 8th February

    This is a constant struggle. For years now, I’ve been working and working, days and nights. I’ve been doing it, because I have believed that no one could do the job I was doing. Now, I know that this isn’t true. People knew that I would do the extra, and therefore, they gave me the extra. I didn’t even get extra paid.

    My wife wasn’t happy about that 🙂

    I’ve started to say no, and focus on my life online and time with the family. The times are changing, and it’s for the better.

  5. Vaughn on the 27th July

    I’m just beginning my career (a little over 1 year out of school) and I’ve noticed that many times when I hear gripes and complaints about achieving “Work-Life Balance” pertain to the fact that the people involved are just too set in thier ways, and too deeply embedded in their lives to make the types of changes necessary. My hope is that by keeping a keen eye on the strategies that lead to success in terms of Work-Life Balance will allow me to successfully achieve my goals…we shall see.

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