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Wellbeing

Published November 8th 2021

How I Finally Perfected The Work-Life Balance

Creating the perfect work-life balance before you burnout is the new self-care. 

It is preventative medicine keeping you healthy, happy, and productive. 

Back when we were hunter-gatherers it was normal to enjoy a two-day work week or a four-hour work day. 

The industrial revolution changed that, increasing the average hours per week.

Where did the working day come from?

In 1926, Henry Ford reduced working hours from nearly 100 to our current standard of 40 hours per week.

It had nothing to do with the moving assembly line like you might be assuming.

Rather he claimed that his workers needed leisure time.

As benevolent as it sounds, his intentions were to sell more automobiles.

However, this did change society's perceptions and got people talking about work-life balance.

We're taking back control of our work day

Once again we are upon a change.

The shift to work from home (WFH), working remotely, and the gig economy has put many of us in the driver's seat to our work schedule.

This can be a challenge to separate work from everything else.

The good news is that I have some tips to share with you...

Research and innovations in work-life balance around the world

To start our discussion about how to perfect your own work-life balance, let's take a look at the data, and how some countries and companies are redefining the work week as we know it.

The OECD created the Better Life Index which examines 11 areas of our lives that contribute to our quality of life and wellbeing – one of those areas covered is work-life balance.

I was curious if more people working long hours contributed positively to the GDP per hour worked.

As you can see in the chart above, there is a downward trend for GDP per hour work as percent of employees working long hours increases.

OECD have noted that long work hours affects personal health, safety, and stress.

Reiterating that point, researchers found that decreasing work hours actually increases productivity and happiness.

Today many companies and countries are shifting their perceptions and taking action to improve the lives of their employees:

  • Many companies are now offering four-day work weeks with a combination of in office and work from home.
  • The Netherlands reduced their work week to just four days. [Source]
  • France has had the right to disconnect since 2001, allowing employees to not respond to work messages or calls after hours. [Source]
  • Companies like Google, DuckDuckGo, and Dell allow their staff to work whenever, wherever as long as they complete their tasks.
  • Some companies are offering "mental health days" to their employees.
  • Shorter work weeks were experimented with and successful in Iceland. [Source]
  • Australia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are working towards six-hour work days. [Source]

"Decreasing work hours actually increases productivity and happiness."

One more piece of research until we dive into the fun part.

This BuzzSumo chart shows work-life balance content published this year (in blue) compared with the previous (in gray).

The dotted line = engagement last year

The solid line = engagement this year

There has been a steady increase in content, but what is more interesting is the sharp rise in engagement.

What does this mean?

People are ready to engage in this topic more than ever.

The past year and a half reminded us what is truly important in life and this will begin to reflect in

"Being a freelancer means that you have to create the systems and boundaries to support a healthy balance."

Actionable tips for achieving a good work-life balance

Previously, I was finding myself dealing with frequent burnout, exhaustion, writer's block, and somehow having no free time.

I naively assumed that working for yourself means automatic work-life balance.

Oh, I was so wrong.

Being a freelancer means that you have to create the systems and boundaries to support a healthy balance.

After freelancing for nine years, I learned a few tricks which I will share with you now.

1. Create a schedule and stick to it

I don't work evenings or weekends.

I know that isn't the norm for many freelancers, but hear me out.

Previously, I would pull 12-hour days finding myself sleeping in and throwing off my routine and schedule.

I would waste entire weekends at the computer attempting to work, but not realizing why I lacked the motivation or inspiration.

You need a break. Plain and simple.

I stop working by 6pm every weekday and avoid the computer on Saturday and Sunday.

After I created these boundaries something incredible happened.

My productivity skyrocketed, I was in a better mood come Monday morning, and my mind was fresh with creative ideas.

If you find yourself bending the rules for one client or another then I suggest using something like Calendly.

I set my schedule in the system, and when someone wants a meeting I send my personal link.

No more repeating your schedule in emails and calculating time zones.

It also helps you to stick to your word and respect your boundaries.

2. Keep a detailed calendar and to do list

A detailed calendar and to-do list can go a long way.

I keep all of my scheduled appointments in my Google Calendar and my daily tasks in Notion.

Each Monday I review both to see what I have coming up and what might be missing.

This gives me a clear vision of what I have to achieve that week to set my expectations.

I know that it will take me a certain amount of days to complete a project, so I break it down into pieces, and add those to my daily tasks.

Being able to check off those things from my list gives me a blast of dopamine to keep me going and motivated.

3. Weekly mastermind calls

Weekly mastermind calls are a game changer.

Yes, it is one more meeting to have each week, but it can help you to focus on the things that matter.

I have regular video calls with colleagues in my industry where we discuss what we have been working on, any issues we are encountering, share possible solutions, and just offer moral support.

These calls help me to prioritize my schedule while also removing my imposter syndrome anxiety demons.

I also like to see it as the digital water cooler chat since I spend my work day with a cat that never responds to me.

4. Automate, automate, and automate

With so many options for automation there is no need to worry when you step away from the desk.

Almost every program out there offers some sort of automation for their services.

BuzzSumo offers a range of incredibly useful tools that continue to work even when you are off enjoying life or fast asleep in bed.

There’s custom alerts, mentions, and viral content in your niche straight to your inbox so you can hit the ground running next time you are ready to work.

I couldn't choose just one so here are some of my favorite ways to achieve work-life balance with BuzzSumo...

4 ways I use BuzzSumo to save time and improve my work-life balance

1. I set up tracking for mentions of my brand, keywords, or competitors

Setting up tracking for mentions of my brand, focus keywords, or competitors is my favorite way to save time from scanning websites, and using the search function over and over to find variations of my target keywords.

While these mentions can come straight to my inbox an hour or two after the piece was published, or integrated in a RSS feed or Slack, I prefer once a day emails each morning.

That way I can add relevant things to my to-do list before I start my day.

I also do this to minimize distractions or getting pulled into work when I should be relaxing.

How to set up brand alerts to snag those links!

  • Select Monitoring and click Create New Alert.
  • Then you will be prompted to add brands, competitors, backlinks, content, keywords, or even authors.
  • You can also narrow your search so that it must include or must not include specific phrases.
  • There is also the option to select the country, how much engagement, and how often you want to be alerted.

2. I track questions being asked about my brand or competitor

This is not an automated feature, but it doesn't change how much time it saves me.

I used to spend an hour or so each week combing through Quora, Reddit, and other forums to find people asking questions in my niche so that I could respond.

BuzzSumo takes this concept even further by tracking questions in over 100,000 forums and offers you a direct link to the discussion.

It is a powerful way to engage directly with potential customers, and this feature saves me so much time that I can then use on more important tasks.

3. I have created a trending news feed

Newsjacking is all the rage right now.

I use it to jump on the trend bandwagon, when I feel like I barely have time to add another task.

There are curated feeds available on major topics, but also the ability to create your own trending feed to see the top stories in your niche.

This simply helps by reducing the time I need to browse the internet for relevant content.

Everything is in one place, with all of the relevant information.

I have opted-in to receive Top Stories Email Digest straight to my inbox once a day, and have created a feed in Slack, by driving specific keywords and mentions to a designated channel.

4. I save and instantly regenerate my searches

Maybe you are interested in watching a topic, but you don't need to be notified of updates daily.

BuzzSumo gives me the ability to save searches.

This is useful when you find yourself searching specific parameters repeatedly, or as mentioned before, you want a soft reminder of a topic you are monitoring.

Share your own work-life balance tips

The good news is that governments and large companies are talking about perfecting the work-life balance and seeing the returns of happy and healthy employees.

For those who are self-employed, like myself, we need to take a hint and start making changes.

I hope that this article helped to shift your perception and to reconsider how taking time off can actually improve your productivity.

If you have any tips or tricks that you use to improve balance between work and personal time, I would love to hear more.

You can test-drive all of the BuzzSumo tools in this guide completely free for 30-days with a free trial.

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