One of the most crucial elements in attaining work/life balance is making sure you maintain clear boundaries, so your job doesn’t spill over and eat up the rest of your life. And with smartphones, home offices, flex time, and all the other “conveniences” (yup, that’s mild sarcasm) of the modern workplace, it often feels like we’re working 18 hours a day.
The difficulty factor is greater for people who work in communications industries, such as advertising, marketing, and design. The deadlines! Clients in other time zones! A work environment that already has a lot of fuzziness between where work stops and your personal life begins!
Thankfully, we have a few foolproof tips for keeping work at work so you can feel like you have a life. Even better, many of these tips will also help you be more productive.
1. Start out each day with a to-do list.
After you’ve fired up your computer and looked at your email (but before you start doing any work), make a list of priorities. What do you absolutely, positively have to get done today? The first step to work/life balance is making a list and keeping it somewhere you can see it; it’s great if you can check off tasks as you do them, but if you can’t, check in with the list during lunch and then before you leave. Since so many of us worry about keeping productive, this gives you a record of just how much you accomplish each day. And if you check all of these “gotta do it today!” items off your list, you can start over tomorrow.
You can find plenty of software out there to assist you with to-do list management. Some examples include: Google Keep, Evernote, LifeRPG (available on the Google Play Store), and Wunderlist (for iPhone).
2. Manage your creative time.
If you’re an art director, designer, or writer, getting to be creative for an assignment is the best part of your job. It’s the part you’ll indulge in, pushing everything else onto the back burner until it comes back to haunt you.
Try breaking your ideation tasks down into chunks — for example, look through magazines and annuals for inspiration, brainstorming, evaluating and choosing ideas to keep pushing. Then give yourself a time budget, and stick to it. Initially, you may feel like you’re abandoning your children, but you’ll be surprised at how fast your brain adapts to the technique.
If you don’t already have one, start a swipe file or collection of great work you’ve ripped out of magazines and saved for future reference. Doing so can help you fire up your creativity at a moment’s notice.