I’m Ambitious and I Want to Show it, But What About My Time?

November 07, 2019

A man is writing about the balance between work and life
Carolyn Young

Whether you work at an office or other workplace, or you work at home, balancing your work ambition and your personal time can be a challenge.  Yes, you need to do what you have to do in order to reach your professional goals, but you can’t stop caring for your own personal needs.  

There are ways to create the right balance for your life.  Here are 4 strategies for you to get the most out of your work and personal time.

Plan Your Time and Prioritize

Plan, plan, plan.  Yes, you’ve heard it before, but are you doing it right?  You undoubtedly have a calendar for appointments and other scheduled events, but you can do more.

  • Prioritize your work tasks.  What are the most important items for you to accomplish?  You need to determine this every day.  Group tasks into “must do”, “want to do”, and “want to do, but it can wait until tomorrow.”
  • Prioritize your personal tasks the same way.  Include everything that is important (bills, other personal business), but also include the things that are necessary to you personally – family time, things that de-stress you, comfort you, and make you healthy and happy.  If your “fix” is a bath, or binge watching something on Netflix, or having a family dinner, put it on your priority list.
  • Create a schedule – Put more on your calendar than appointments.  Schedule first things first, and put everything in a time slot, including your personal tasks.  Your calendar should reflect when work stops and personal time begins.  You may have a “work, personal, work, personal” rotation of your time, but keep those times in their own compartments.  Of course, things are always going to come up that alter your plan, but having a schedule (for everything) gives you a psychological prompt to do what you need to do, both personally and professionally.

Work Smart, Not Long

Efficiency is everything when you’re trying to meet your goals and take care of yourself at the same time.  Learn to work more efficiently – planning will help you tremendously with this – but also look for other ways to make all your time more productive.  Can you be more organized at work or in your home office?  Can the rest of your home be more organized?  Can you prepare for things ahead of time?  Can you ask for help to take some of the burden off your shoulders?

All of us can find ways to utilize our time more efficiently by examining what we’re really doing with our time.  Look for ways to eliminate the unnecessary – searching for something because you’re not organized enough, doing things that someone else could do, scrambling to get ready for a meeting when you should have been prepared before.  And news sites or social media?  Schedule them so they don’t interfere with your priorities.

Keep Your Energy Up

Not coffee!  There’s nothing wrong with coffee, but it’s not going to provide you with sustainable energy.  You’re going to crash.  Focus on your health instead (a must-have priority).  Eat well, drink beverages that are nutrient-rich, and don’t do things in excess that are bad for you.  

Exercise is important too, so prioritize it and schedule it.  You can even do this at work.  Get up periodically and talk a 2-minute walk, or a 10-minute walk at lunch time.  Stretch.  Keep moving.  

You might even consider a standing desk riser at work or in your home office. There is evidence that standing desk converters increase energy and productivity and have other health benefits.  You can even combine exercise and standing desk benefits with an exercise bike designed to fit under a standing desk riser.  Yes, you can work and exercise at the same time, and drink a smoothie to boot!

Yes, You Can Take Time Off

Everybody needs it.  No one at work is going to judge you for taking a vacation.  You need time to re-charge your body and mind, and to be as unplugged as possible.  Don’t make yourself available for work – out-of-office auto replies exist for a reason.  You also don’t need to pack your vacation with bucket list activities.  Sit by the pool or on the beach, and just be.  Read.  Watch the waves. Relax.

It’s All About You

You can’t do anything effectively if you are not taking time for yourself and caring for yourself.  You’re not a work machine, you’re a human being with personal needs.  If you take the time to prioritize and plan your time strategy every day, without leaving out your personal needs, all parts of your life will benefit.  You can be successful, and not just at work.

Summary – A work-life balance can be difficult when you’re ambitious and you want to show it.  There are strategies you can employ to help you get ahead at work, while still taking time for yourself.  Simple things like planning, keeping your work or home office organized, and keeping up your energy level can have a tremendous impact on your well-being.

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