The days of a hard-line boundary between work and home life ended with the laptop. Rather than trying to keep work and life packed away in separate little Marie Kondo style boxes, I’ve found the key is having the two co-exist harmoniously. You don’t need to go quite as far in integrating the two as working with your significant other (though it works for me!), but here are my 5 best tips to achieving a healthy work-life integration:

1.Choose work that gives you energy rather than drains it

It’s not the number of hours you work that determines your work life balance. It’s whether your job gives you energy or drains it away.  Find a job that feels meaningful and inspiring to you. Work with a diverse set of people who help you learn new things every day. Ensure that the company’s values match your own. At Proper Food we’ve build out a series of core values that are instilled in our every day. It empowers me to lead a company with values, and in return empowers our team to know they’re working for values they also believe in and respect. When you come home from work energized rather than exhausted, it’s almost like your work is giving you extra hours in the day.

2. Block out your time

You won’t actually have extra hours in the day – we all get the same 24. So, use them wisely! The key is to prioritize and plan in advance:

  • Spend 20 minutes every Sunday evening preparing for the week. Create a to-do list for the week ahead and highlight your top 3-5 priorities. Be realistic – move things you won’t get done that coming week to a separate list for the following weeks. Pro-tip: I love using Evernote so that my priorities are easily accessible, synched on my laptop and phone. 
  • Block out time on your calendar to get everything done – work items, personal to-do’s, exercise, etc – they all go onto the calendar. You’ll realize right away if you’re being over-ambitious about what you can get done this week. Bonus Tip: I color-code work vs. personal time as a great visual to check if my time allocation aligns with my priorities.  
  • Repeat every night for the next day – look at your priorities for the week, determine the most important ‘to-do’s’ for the next day and ensure time is blocked on the calendar to get them done.

3. Be honest and direct

Transparent and direct communication is simply more efficient – at work and at home. It saves so much wasted energy! With work colleagues, being candid is actually more caring than beating around the bush. For example, one of our core values at Proper Food is to “Keep it Real,” ensuring that our employees are open, honest and straightforward – a team that works together with trust and respect. It strengthens relationships by being open and honest. Would also recommend checking out “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott for a great book on the topic.  The same concepts apply with family and friends.

4. Master the juggling act

Early in your career, you achieve success by never dropping a ball. As you climb the ladder, and especially if you start a family in the meantime, the juggling act gets more and more intense until suddenly there are too many balls to keep them all in the air.  Rather than trying to catch them all, the trick is to know which ones are rubber and will bounce vs. which ones are glass and will break. This goes for both work and home. My son having to wear the same pajamas multiple nights because I haven’t had a chance to laundry: Rubber ball. Being there for his school performance: Glass ball. I often picture myself surrounded by hundreds of bouncing rubber balls. As long as I’m catching the glass ones, I’m winning.

5. Give yourself grace

I’m writing the article on work-life integration, but do I get this right every day? Absolutely not. The goal is ‘most days’ not ‘every day’.  Give yourself grace. Progress, not perfection.