While we all desperately hope to find that perfect balance between our personal and professional life, many of us struggle to maintain that healthy work-life balance most of the time. We all have a lot on our plates, and oftentimes financial stress forces us to choose work over pleasure. Does it really need to be that way, though?

It turns out we don’t need to spend all of our energy on work (and, honestly, we really shouldn’t). In fact, we can all implement a few small yet vital tips to help us achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Set Attainable Goals

When our responsibilities increase or we take on more tasks, we often lose sight of the big picture. However, experts say that we maintain a better work-life balance when we set realistic, achievable goals for both our professional and personal life. This will help you structure your time more efficiently, which will ultimately help you net more time for your personal life.

When it comes to work, make a daily and weekly to-do list and prioritize items that are time-sensitive or important. You can do this with old fashioned pen and paper or by using one of the many project management apps now available. Also, identify when you are most productive during the work day and dedicate that time to your most important tasks. 

Create Your Workspace

Did you know that the average American spends nearly one-third of their life at work? Because of this, it’s important that we have workspaces that are inviting and encourage healthy habits. If possible, you should fill your workspace with items that provide you with joy but avoid doing things that create excessive clutter. Also, plants and sunshine can boost your mood, which can help with productivity and overall mental wellness.

While it’s easy to maintain a dedicated workspace when you’re in the office, this can become more difficult for those of us who work remotely. However, you can establish a dedicated space for work purposes both while in the office and while working from home. This not only helps your brain recognize that it’s time for work, but it also helps alleviate distractions.

Take Regular Breaks

Although many of us now work straight through our lunch and coffee breaks, a recent study actually showed that this mentality led to less productivity during the work day. Employees who take advantage of lunch breaks and a few 15-minute breaks during the work day are not only more efficient workers, but they also experience increased creativity and more positive feelings about their employer. Most importantly, though, mindful breaks during the work day allow us the opportunity to practice self-care and help our overall physical and mental health.

These breaks become even more important when working from home, though. This is because a lack of breaks minimizes your psychological detachment from work, which in turn increases the likelihood that you will continue to work at home after the typical work day is done. So, even when working remotely, take regular breaks to maintain that space between work and leisure.

Unplug After Hours

While we all love the benefits modern technology provides in our everyday life, the always-on nature of business in our connected world can quickly wear us down. To avoid burnout and stress, it’s important to unplug as much as possible once your work day ends. If possible, set limits on your work email and avoid checking any work-related communication channels after you leave the office. For those who work in education or similar industries, don’t take work home (yes, that includes student work that you should grade). Also, writing a daily exit list will help you mentally set aside work and leave it at work.

When you get home or end your work day, turn your attention to things at home instead. Prepare a homemade dinner or play a board game with your family — anything that will distract you from work and improve your overall well being. The more you do this, the easier it will become — and the more you’ll feel at ease.

Use Mass Transit to Commute

Although we may not all find ourselves commuting to the office every single day, we can all benefit from mass transit on the days when we do head to the office. In fact, the experts at Zoma recently completed a study about daily commutes and they discovered that people who use mass transit enjoyed numerous benefits in both their personal and professional lives as a result of this commute style.

For starters, people who use mass transit seem more satisfied with their nightly sleep, and some even used the commute to catch up on rest. Additionally, nearly half of the people who participated in Zoma’s study used the commute to start on some work. More than 57 percent of these people said that working during their commute saved them time at the office, and 49.4 percent shared that working during the commute allowed them to get ahead on work. Finally, using mass transit alleviates the stress many of us experience from driving to work, which helps you feel less frazzled and more productive once you reach the office.

It might be impossible to ever find that perfect balance between our personal and professional life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! By taking these steps towards a healthier life, your work and home will ultimately benefit.