Man looking stressed at his desk.

Sometimes losing yourself in your work is exactly what you need, but not all the time. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will keep you happy, and your work will be better for it. Today, we’re discussing 7 simple ways you can improve your own work-life balance. The best part? The advice below can be used before, during and after work. So start implementing them this week!

1. Meal Prep

One of the best ways to save some time (and money) at work is to prepare your lunch for the week ahead of time. On Sunday, consider preparing a few meals for the next week. It’s cheaper to prepare them all at once, and you won’t have to scramble each night or morning to throw something together. Best of all, you won’t have to run out and buy something everyday. This will give you back some time! That time can be spent getting other errands out of the way, or just relaxing and taking a break.

2. Choosing Outfits

Figuring out what you want to wear to work can be quite a time sink in the morning. By picking an outfit the night before and sticking to it, you will have back some of your morning. You’ll likely find yourself rushing out the door less, and may even have time for some breakfast! Picking out one outfit a night is helpful, but if you’re feeling bold, try planning out an entire week! Obviously you will have to take weather into account, but you should find yourself saving a lot of that crucial time in the morning before work.

3. Manage  Your Time Wisely at Work

When you’re actually at work, managing that time is just as important. Spending all day on a project that could wait may mean staying late, and keep you from your own time. At the beginning of each day prioritize your tasks and understand what absolutely needs to get done today. Finishing those tasks first allows you to work on projects that have more breathing room. By getting these responsibilities out of the way first, it’s less likely you will have to stay late.

4. Take Breaks

It may seem odd to suggest taking breaks, when the problem is not having enough time in the day. However, taking periodic breaks has been shown to increase productivity and reduce fatigue. Taking a break results in you being more focused, and productive. So although the break isn’t spent working, it pays off considering how much better you work after it. You can also break up long periods of time spent working on the same thing. If you get frustrated with a project, you’re probably not to be as productive as you should be. Take a quick break and work on something else. You’ll be surprised how big of a difference coming back to a project can make. You’ll likely be much less frustrated, and might even have some new ideas!

5. Unplug

There’s nothing quite like getting home, changing out of work clothes, and relaxing. Making sure that time belongs to you is very important. Do your best to disconnect from work when you are outside of the office. Even if you are required to check e-mail at home, don’t drive yourself crazy constantly checking it. If you allow your work to carry into your whole day, it will be hard to find any downtime to enjoy. This is commonly one of the biggest barriers to work-life balance. Wanting your own time to enjoy in the day isn’t selfish, so don’t feel bad about it!

6. Plan Something Fun

Working day in and day out, it’s easy to be pushed not to plan anything during the week. It’s easy to feel like you want to just go home after a long day of work. However, planning things during the week gives you something to look forward to. Part of the reason a work-life balance disconnect exists is because you don’t spend your free time doing things you may want to. Do your best to overcome the post work sluggishness and make fun plans with family and friends. Even if it’s once a week, that’s great! If you’re not sold on the idea, try it once and see if you regret it afterwards- the answer will likely be no.

7. Get Sleep

Some workers who feel like they’ve lost their evenings decide to stay up later to have some of their ‘own time’. However, there is a huge problem with this approach. Being tired at work means being less productive. In turn, this means less gets done and you either have to stay late, or work in off hours. The vicious cycle repeats, and worsens. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. It will help you be more productive at work, and enjoy the time you do have to yourself!

That’s it for our seven tips to help your work-life balance! None of them require major changes to your work or relaxation habits, but they could payoff in a big way. We hope these tips help you be more productive at work, and enjoy your time when you’re not!