No matter how old we get, the sounds and sights of summer can always tempt us to embrace our inner child.
You might have the urge to pack up your car for a road trip, head to the beach or a national park with your loved ones, fire up some hot dogs, or enjoy your favorite outdoor sports. But, unfortunately, you likely have adult responsibilities like emails and project deadlines ordering you back to your desk. How do you balance seasonal fun with everyday demands and financial responsibility?
Take a few moments today to reassess your work-life balance. With the following tips, you can make the most of the season without shirking your responsibilities.
Rolling through your day-to-day demands can send you into autopilot mode, causing you to skip from work task to errand to social obligation to family time without taking a moment to reflect. After all, the average American spends more time per week working than relaxing, so it’s common to tackle what you need to accomplish and forget your appetite for recreation.
Take a moment to reconnect with yourself and visualize what your ideal summer looks like. Find at least five minutes today to go on a brief walk or close your eyes and sit in silence. Reflect on your daily life: Where do you find happiness? Contrarily, where are you building up stress? Decide which recreational activities and work responsibilities are truly important to you, then take these steps to prioritize them.
Assess your daily demands
It’s time for some summer housekeeping. Think about how you can rearrange your schedule to optimize your time. Your goal should be to make space for what matters most in the two major realms of your life—professional and personal.
List your most prominent workday duties. Are you pursuing a major deal, possible promotion, or engaging project? Try to determine which tasks are truly important, evaluating which ones you can delegate to others, set aside, or even eliminate entirely. (Plan a quick meeting with your supervisors, if necessary, when considering the latter.) You may even discover that you’re prolonging your workdays unnecessarily by getting further ahead of deadlines than needed or taking on too many tasks.
Next, examine your social schedule. Set aside more time for valuable moments like game nights with your family and meetups with old friends at your favorite joint. Make it a priority to spend quality time with your children, especially if they are on summer vacation. In exchange, spend less time on unfulfilling activities and relationships—for example, you may be a member of a book club that is using up more of your free time than you’d like.
Write up a schedule
In a season so full of opportunities for fun, every moment matters. With a calendar or other scheduling tool, you can ensure your daily activities reflect your priorities. Even momentous events like your child’s first baseball game can get away from you if workplace tasks steal your focus. Install a calendar app on your smartphone and any other devices you use throughout the day. Google Calendar is shareable, easy to implement across platforms, and can even automatically track events like concerts as soon as you purchase your tickets. If you prefer a more interactive interface, Any.do is popular for its simple drag-and-drop feature, which allows you to move tasks between custom tables and even share them with other users. You can make dedicated lists for each family member and then track their tasks. For example, Any.do can help you remind your daughter to turn in her summer camp permission slip.
If you work in a seasonal business that demands you go full throttle during summer, a calendar or task list will be especially valuable. With their assistance, you can embrace opportunities with your loved ones whenever possible—even if you only plan one meaningful event per week, such as a weekend day trip to visit relatives. Then plan a vacation when work slows down after Labor Day.
Productivity apps can help you free up time, visualize what’s really consuming your daylight hours, and identify space to make fun plans in advance. For example, maybe you could take your partner on a surprise picnic. When you reassess your work-life schedules, you can unleash new opportunities both on and off the clock.
A union of life and work
Finally, remember that your work life and personal life don’t have to conflict with one another. Many people enjoy the work they do and take pride in their accomplishments, as should you. So when the clock strikes five and you shut off your computer or pull into your driveway, pat yourself on the back for a hard day’s work. Let that sense of accomplishment carry you as you rejoin your family.
Then turn your attention to what matters most: how the summer sun shines on your loved ones or how the sound of wind rustling in your backyard makes your daily stresses slip away. Sit back and enjoy these moments as often as you can, and you’ll have a summer worth remembering.