By Kelsey Goforth

The dichotomy of work and play has been a long-standing dilemma in daily life. After two hours of commuting plus the eight-hour workday, it becomes difficult to get all “essentials” done, let alone squeeze in “me time.” Employees are working longer hours and daily errands or responsibilities are demanding an ever increasing amount of time. As tasks pile up, people quickly become overwhelmed. However, there are ways to juggle work responsibilities and still have time to yourself. Here are some tips for finding that balance in your life:

1. Take advantage of Sundays

• Take this day to prepare for the week. Make meal plans and go shopping to avoid mid-week, time-consuming runs to the grocery store. Divide snack foods into single serving containers so preparing meals or throwing together lunches is a simple task.

2. Schedule “me-time”

• When life gets hectic, taking time for yourself often gets put on the back burner. Plan blocks of time to do whatever makes you happy. Whether it’s 20 minutes to read your favourite novel or a full afternoon of browsing an art museum, make sure you have time to clear your head.

• Exercise, as important as it is, is often neglected. Join a gym or fitness class close to your workplace so you can go before or after work or even on your lunch break. Not only will this improve your health but your overall well-being will get a boost too.

3. Make meals easy

• Spend a weekend afternoon making food to last throughout the week. Soups, stews and chili can all be frozen in small portions, ensuring days of lunches and quick dinners.

• Prepare produce as soon as it’s purchased. Slicing up your vegetables not only saves time during the week, but also saves room in your fridge. As an added bonus, having pre-cut produce readily available leads to healthier snacking options.

• When cooking, clean up your mess as you make it. Wipe down cutting boards once you’re done chopping and wash pans as soon as you’re finished with them so that when you’re done eating, all that’s left to be cleaned are plates and cutlery.

4. Nurture relationships

• After an eight-hour day, it is tempting to go home, do what needs to be done and go straight to bed. To maintain happiness and balance in your life, however, it’s important to ensure that you sustain bonds with family and friends. Schedule enjoyable events and activities such as family hockey games, dinners with friends or trips to museums.

5. Set boundaries

• Don’t take work home with you. Avoid checking emails after work hours or staying up to work on reports or presentations. At the beginning of the week, prioritize your tasks and prepare a timeline so there are no late nights at the office.

Although it is difficult to brush our responsibilities aside, shortcuts can help keep them manageable. Upholding the importance of family, friends and personal time ensures that life is balanced and stable.

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