When I was first started my career as a marketer, I was so excited to have a job and was super motivated to work all hours to go above and beyond my responsibilities.
It went well for a couple of months.
And then, as you can predict, I burnt out (hard!).
And it turns out; I am not alone. According to research, 75% of workers have experienced burnout, with 40% saying they've experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic.
So, how do you make sure you remain healthy, have a good personal and social life while doing your job to the best of your abilities? Through work-life balance!
Practical Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance may sound like a myth for marketers, but with some (strong) self-discipline and prioritizing your tasks properly, you can achieve it.
But before we dig into what those steps are, you have to remember that work-life balance is something you have to work at constantly. The steps detailed below are a starting point that will help you prioritize your life, but you have to consistently be at it to achieve a work-life balance.
1. Set hard stops for each workday
It might be tempting to work after hours or on weekends to get more done. But it's important to set hard stops for your day, after which you turn off your laptop, mute your notifications and stop thinking about work.
It might be hard for remote workers or freelancers to stop working, and it can be common to work late into the night to complete a project.
Lakshmi Padmanaban, a Tech Copywriter, shares her approach to achieving work-life balance, "Have clear boundaries. I have this policy of no work and not checking the emails on weekends. I also make it clear to my clients from early on about the hours and days I'll be available and make it completely non-negotiable."
If you find it hard to stop working after a particular time (let's say 6 pm), have set rituals to indicate work start and stop.
Masooma Memon, a freelance writer for B2B SaaS, shares her rituals, "I end my day by making the next day's to-do list. For starting, I need quiet, and I immediately tackle the biggest task on the list — if I don't follow this, I have a hard time being productive."
2. Take breaks and prioritize self-care
One of the best ways to prioritize yourself during work is by taking small breaks for short self-care activities. You can schedule personal things in your calendar like taking a short walk, coffee breaks, lunch, or phone calls with family or friends.
Melanie Deziel, Co-Founder & VP of Marketing for The Convoy, focuses on categorizing tasks on urgency and importance. She says, "It's easy to feel like every task is both — and end up overworking yourself — when that's rarely the case."
Make sure to honor these commitments as they will provide a much-needed break in your workday and help you feel refreshed and recharged.
Meg Sharpley, PR Manager, talks about her ongoing battle with work-life balance and says, "I add personal appointments or dinners to my work calendar and set them as private and OOO (out of office). This way, my team sees I am OOO and doesn't expect an instant response on messages."
3. Put time blocks in your calendar
The day I started time-blocking, my entire work pattern changed, and I haven't looked back ever since.
Time-blocking is a method for dividing your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task and only that specific task.
One example can be, from 9 to 10 am, you will reply to emails in your inbox, from 10 am to 2 pm, you will write a blog, 2 to 3 pm is your lunch break, and so forth.
Amalia Fowler, Owner of Good AF Consulting, shares her top best ways to prioritize work-life balance, “Time blocking, keeping work email and slack off your phone, and putting the phone away.”
4. Set clear objectives
Setting clear goals with your manager or client is also important. Be transparent about the time required to complete a task, and don't try to cut the time short to look more efficient. It will result in you working later in the night or on weekends to complete a project.
Michael Micacchi, Digital Marketing Strategist, says, "Setting clear objectives and timelines at the start of a project eliminates most surprises. When we don't do this, chaos, late nights, and burnout follow."
5. Keep work email and slack off your phone
This one is a little tricky at first.
When I was working remotely during the pandemic, I was so scared of missing a Slack text from my manager or not responding quickly enough.
And now that I don't have Slack on my phone anymore, it's a game-changer. I don't get notifications about emails or messages when I am not ready to see them.
Christine Johnson, a Marketing Strategist, advises, “Be very guarded with your inbox. It's a way to protect your time.”
Remove Slack and work email from your phone and only check work communication during your set work hours. It also helps you be in the present moment.
"Be in the moment, wherever you are," says Nicole Tabak, a Freelance Copywriter. "Being fully present wherever I am and not feeling guilty about working more or taking longer breaks helped me immensely," she concludes.
6. Stick to your to-do list
Along with establishing clear boundaries, you should also prioritize your tasks for the day and audit your to-do list to make sure you are working effectively.
Focus on high-impact activities and reduce the ones that aren't important. Morgan Ulrich, Digital Marketing Campaign Strategist, advises, "Set a realistic to-do list for the day. There will always be more work tomorrow, but once you get done with your tasks for the day, you can feel accomplished and sign off."
7. Automate as much as possible
Can I just say what a life-saver automation is — especially for marketers?
With tools like DirectLync, you can automate your social media and email marketing campaigns to help you save time and schedule posts well in advance.
Automation also lessens the stress of not responding to emails immediately, especially if you are booked for the day or OOO.
Joe Ray, Marketing Manager, emphasizes on automation to achieve work-life balance and says, "Automate a reply message if you're on a deadline, if you're booked for a full day of meetings, or if it's just a day when response times will be longer than normal."
Keep striving for it!
No one is saying work-life balance is a piece of cake (although I wish it were). It's something you have to work at and prioritize consistently.
So, set clear boundaries, prioritize your daily tasks accordingly, schedule regular breaks, and automate as many of your tasks as possible.