Maintaining a work life balance is tough for anyone with a full-time career.

Here are 5 secrets to restoring your precious work life balance – without sacrificing your career opportunities or harming your business.

Secret 1: Meditation Is Good 

I’d been told about the benefits of meditation for many years – by my parents, colleagues, friends and for a long time I stoically ignored their advice. Why? I don’t know, it just sounded flakey.

When I finally gave real meditation a shot I realised what all the fuss is about. After a few weeks I found that regular mantra meditation (20 minute sessions, 1-2 times a day) made a huge difference to my overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. I approached each task with more patience and concentration.

There are also apps which make meditation more accessible for beginners. Headspace plays meditation and mindfulness sessions you can use at work.

Secret 2: Work Smarter, Not Harder

There’s a dangerous corporate mentality, which says that working longer hours and being more productive are the same thing. They’re not. Sometimes we think we’re achieving more because we’ve worked for longer, when actually we’re just dragging out tasks to fill the day.

There are 3x main types of productivity hack you need to master:

  • Delegation. Spend your time on the specialised tasks that only you can do. Don’t be afraid to delegate more generic jobs to those who have time (unless they can be automated).
  • Use productivity tools. Project management software and time tracking apps can streamline all of your work processes.
  • Communicate effectively. Team project tools like Slack, Trello and Hangouts can eliminate the need for time consuming meetings. They also allow remote working, which can boost efficiency.

Secret 3: Meal Prep Isn’t Just For Bodybuilders

For most of us, food takes up a significant chunk of our lives. But what if all your food was prepped in advance? Try setting aside one afternoon a week and doing all your cooking at once. Freeze reheatable dinners and lunches in serving size containers, ready to grab and go. Not only does this save time in the mornings and evenings, it also means you’re less likely to waste time on ‘emergency’ shopping trips. By creating a comprehensive meal plan for the whole week you know exactly what ingredients to purchase – saving precious time and money.

Secret 4: Learn to Say No

Like they always say on airplanes – you need to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. If you don’t put your own work priorities first, everyone else’s demands can easily start to suck up your time. Before you know it you’re doing everyone’s job except your own.

To avoid this you need to become an expert at saying ‘no’. It’s one of the hardest words in the English language to get comfortable saying. This is especially true when it’s your boss, a client, or a colleague who’s helped you in the past. But with practice saying ‘no’ gets easier.

Secret 5: Take Breaks Religiously

During a busy working day it’s easy to forget about your entitled breaks. Some of us even forget to eat lunch. But taking a few moments of rest each day is crucial for preventing burnout and exhaustion, no matter how busy you are.

If you know you’re the type to forget, schedule short breaks into your calendar like you would any meeting or appointment. Make sure you’re marked as busy so everyone knows not to interrupt you. Find a quiet room or take a walk outside. Even short 10 minute breaks a few times a day can do wonders for your mental health.