Everyone is given the same amount of hours per day. A lot of people think that working longer hours is the key to getting more done, and therefore getting ahead in their careers. In fact, a lot of companies encourage that kind of culture, even rewarding it. But for most of us, this isn’t a sustainable approach long-term. Whether it’s a busy family life, or other activities outside of work that require time and attention, there comes a time where it feels impossible to do it all.

Without proper planning, you will feel like you are constantly putting out fires, chasing after the tasks that you need to get done, rather than having any sense of control.

So, is work/ life balance a myth? Or is it possible, with a bit of planning to strike a balance that is sustainable long-term?

Depending on where you are in your career, and in your personal life, this could be a big issue for you. The temptation to overwork is strong, especially in a culture that rewards it.

The best way to get back a sense of control, and make the most efficient use of the time you have is to:

  1. Create a Default Diary- a default diary takes into consideration all the non negotiables for you. This might be exercise, family time, or a specific hobby or commitment. It will also include any work events or meetings that you know of in advance. At the beginning of the week, when you sit down to plan, creating a default diary will help you get a clear overview of what your week looks like.
  2. Time-block- Cal Newport suggests that accounting for every minute of your work day can increase your productivity by more than 30%.
  3. Share your schedule- sharing your work week with your loved ones, colleagues and managers will help them to understand when you are available for meetings and what commitments you might have during the week. Communication is key when it comes to the default diary.
  4. Allow margin for error- no work week ever goes exactly according to plan. As important as it is to have a clear and detailed plan for the week, it’s equally as important to be flexible when things change last minute.
  5. Make time for rest – it’s impossible to consistently give your best, both to your family and your work, when you aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s also important in order to avoid burnout. Plan it in advance and make rest a part of your default diary.

By intentionally planning out your activities using a default diary, you can regain control of your time and increase your productivity.