This time of year is when we start sharing our 2023 goals and ambitious New Year's resolutions. Maybe they involve getting fit or eating healthier—or maybe they're focused on work-life balance. But even if you've never been particularly good at keeping your resolutions, there are some tricks that can help you make them stick. Here are five tips for finding those elusive moments when work ends and life begins.

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Hey! I'm Marissa Brassfield, founder of Ridiculously Efficient and an entrepreneurial mom. I experiment with artificial intelligence tools to see which ones can help me save time creating content for my business, so I have more "sky time" with my family. This article was generated by an AI tool I'm testing as part of a content experiment. These call-out boxes are for human-curated wisdom. If you're curious about how AI can save you time, consider subscribing to Ridiculously Efficient to learn how I'm using these tools and what's working right now.

Set your boundaries, and stick to them.

It’s important to set boundaries early on, before the pressure and expectations start mounting.

The goal is not to be more stressed out than you already are—the goal is to have a life outside of work. It’s okay if it means saying no sometimes, or even all the time. Don’t be afraid to change your mind later when circumstances change or you discover that what seemed like an exciting opportunity at first isn't quite as enticing in reality (or vice versa).

It’s also important to be realistic about what your schedule can accommodate. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new opportunity, but if it means cutting back on the time you spend with your family or doing something that doesn't interest you as much, then maybe it's not worth it.

In the end, it is up to you to decide when and how much work you can handle. You can’t please everyone all the time, so don't feel guilty if you have to say no at times.

Give yourself a cut-off time each day.

Set a cut off time for the day, and stick to it.

It's not uncommon for people to set themselves up with a pattern of working late into the night and then waking up early to keep going. If our work is important enough, we tell ourselves that we can't possibly leave until our project is completed or all of our emails are answered. But this isn't sustainable—and it's certainly not healthy!

If you don't have an obligation on your schedule that forces you out of the office at a certain time each day, set yourself up with one by scheduling a meeting with someone who will be expecting your call (or email) at a certain time.

Create a "done" list.

In the past, you may have used a checklist to help you organize your tasks. Now, it's time to move on from that method and start using an effective "done" list instead. A done list is simply a way of documenting what you have completed each hour (or day). This might seem like a lot of work—but actually it can be quite simple once you get in the habit!

You can also layer on attractive incentives and motivators for achieving goals! Maybe offer yourself something special if there are no zero days—meaning no days where nothing got done! Or perhaps reward yourself with some extra self-care every time an item gets crossed off. It's up to you how much motivation works best for getting stuff done efficiently.

Define and prioritize your tasks to get done each week, each day, and each hour.

If you want to stay focused and have more time for yourself, it's important to figure out what tasks are most important, necessary and interesting.

This is where the concept of "importance," "urgency" and "interest" comes into play. To get a sense of prioritization in your life, think about which tasks have these three qualities:

  • High importance: These are things that make a significant difference in your life or move your business forward. This includes things like paying bills or filing taxes (if you're self employed). These should take up more time than other tasks because they're essential to running your business or keeping things together at home.
  • Medium importance: These are things that keep life running smoothly but don't push business forward as much as high-priority items do; examples include cleaning up around the house or scheduling appointments for regular clients (if you're self employed). Again, medium priority items should take up more time than other tasks because they keep daily life running smoothly but don't necessarily help grow the business much at all...
  • Low importance: These are tasks that take up little to no time at all; examples include checking Facebook or Twitter, texting friends and posting to Instagram (all of which are common distractions for entrepreneurs). Keep these items out of your schedule so that they don't interfere with more important things.
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Me again. If you have a limited time window to work – which is almost always these days – prioritization is key. If you keep a daily to-do list, revisit it at the halfway point of your workday to reorder your remaining to-dos based on priority and urgency.

You can have it all, but you have to set boundaries first.

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For years, I've heard successful leaders – men and women – say things like, "You can't have it all," or, "Career, family, health: you can only pick two at a time." Says who? I believe there's a way toward your dream life and livelihood, provided you release expectations or control over exactly how it has to unfold. 

You can have an amazing career that fulfills your purpose and passion, a happy marriage or committed relationship with family members and friends (or both), a great social life that includes time for hobbies—you get the picture. The only way for this to happen is if we commit ourselves to protecting our own boundaries so we can protect our mental health by setting limits on our time commitments.

We’ve all made commitments that we can’t keep, and experienced the guilt or disappointment when these situations happen. The problem is that we don’t realize that setting boundaries is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health and your ability to create results.

Conclusion

So there you have it—five ways to achieve work-life balance in the New Year. We hope that these tips will help you to be more productive, more organized and less stressed at work, so that you can have some fun when you’re not working!

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