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Do you want more free time and less work?

This is the dream: less work and more reward.
Who isn’t interested? We want to spend more time with our families, on our hobbies, and with each other. It seems like an impossible goal. How can we make it possible? What is the secret?

I wish, after all that build up, that the truth was something unexpected. Truly, however, it is so logical that it’s baffling.

The fastest way I can possibly express it is by saying ‘work at work and live at home’. But that doesn’t quite explain the magic.

So, to help you can live a fuller life, be happier, work smarter and not harder- I’ve broken the big secret into parts. And when you’ve read through them, you will understand how truly productive people produce results without putting in extra time.

Leave work at work

I know; this seems obvious. But it is alarming how many of us do not do it.

If you want a full weekend, then disconnect. Put your work phone away. Ignore your emails. If you are available to contact 24/7 then you are at work even when you’re not.

If disconnecting for the whole weekend terrifies you (or just isn’t possible), schedule your work into small chunks.

What time are your children out of the house? When is soccer practice? Designate those times for emails and phone calls.

That way, you can enjoy spending time with your friends and family when they are available, and you won’t have to sacrifice work availability.

Your laundry is now work

The other day a lady tried to talk me into her pyramid scheme. ‘As women,’ she told me, ‘we work seven days. The weekday is spent at work and the weekend cleaning’.

While I did decline her offer of infinite income for only 100 euro upfront, she did strike a chord in me.

I live in a house with three other people and on weekends, we clean. We shouldn’t be cleaning though; we should be enjoying the weekend.

Here’s the solution: schedule your chores with the same seriousness as meetings and emails. And schedule them during the week.

No excuses

You might have to work a little harder Monday to Friday to make this work, but it’ll mean a big pay off at the end of the week.

Sundays should be for adventures. Not laundry.

Adventure

You might be feeling tricked at this point. ‘Lena,’ you might say (that’s my name), ‘you promised less work and you’re just moving work around’.

Let me give you a fun fact. Doing chores and work only from Monday to Friday isn’t just relocating them; it’s winning weekends.

Once you have free weekends you can hike, go to concerts, try out new bars and spend quality time with loved ones. Your weekends will become refreshing and exciting. They’ll improve your mood for the whole week.

The most exciting part of this is that a better mood makes for better focus. And better focus decreases work time!

So, in a way, quality free time can end up creating more free time (I told you this was good).

Make plans and stick to them

This article isn’t just about moving tasks around to open weekends.

It is about scheduling the important things for weekdays and cutting out the rest. A great way to do just that is by planning each week.

Make a list of necessary tasks (if you are struggling to decide what is necessary, read our article on the four D’s of time management here) and just tick it off as you go along. Not only will ticking off items give you a feeling of satisfaction, it will help you focus and move cleanly from one task to another.

Planning your week will boost your productivity and reduce your stress. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, all you will need to do is cross off one item after another.

Plans give you oversight, prevent you from becoming side tracked, and motivate you to stay on task. Smarter working means less hours wasted in the office, and more time at home.

Planning your week will boost your productivity and reduce your stress. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, all you will need to do is cross off one item after another.

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Develop a morning routine

If you want to be productive at work come Monday, don’t sleep in on the weekends. It can be tempting to catch up on sleep by turning off your alarm, but sleep ins only disturb your circadian rhythm.

If you want to be truly productive at work without spending extra hours working, simply forgo sleeping until noon on a Saturday (heartbreaking, I know).

Lastly, go for a run

So far I’ve given you a few really effective tools.

Sleeping until the same time every day will mean you’ll wake up focused and alert, scheduling chores for weekdays will mean free weekends, and making plans will stop you from side-tracking.

None of these things mean additional work for you (they’ll even maximize your time and make work easier), and they all mean a better work-life balance.

The last piece of wisdom I want to impart is that of exercise.

I find most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to exercise. Either they already prioritize it, or they just don’t have time for it. It could be that a week is too busy, or they are just not interested.

But exercising doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Just ten minutes of moving can reduce stress! Often I have my best ideas when I’m exercising. Being outside sparks creativity.

If you want to improve your work life balance, trust me and make time for exercise. The quality of your sleep and mood will improve, and you’ll be able to make the most of your newfound free time.

So, what are your plans for the weekend?

- Lena Klein

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