One of the terms we hear a lot is “work life balance.” But what does that actually mean? How do you manage a work life balance as you try to start a business or change careers?

It’s not always easy. Plus, like so many things in life, it comes down to your individual preferences and what you want your life to look like. I’ve been trying to strike a work life balance, but it looks different for me than it might look to someone else.

Here’s how to figure out what this balance might look like for you:

Start with Your Priorities

The first thing to do is decide what you want your life to look like. What are your priorities? What do you prefer to do with your time? I like to be involved in the community and I like time for travel. However, I also like spending time with my son and learning new things. That’s a lot to cram into my life.

I know that my son comes first, so I make sure he has the opportunities he wants, and I make an effort to include him in some of my own passions. We travel together, and he helps me with some of my community service. This is one way to combine my priorities in a way that they are met without overwhelming me too much.

In some cases, I know that I will have to wait on some items. I can’t do everything all the time without running myself ragged.

Cut Out Time Wasters

A lot of the time, when we talk about work life balance, we talk about being able to do the things we love, or spend time with family, on top of working. But we often find ourselves wondering where the time went. Part of this is due to the fact that we waste time. Every so often, I realize my Facebook usage is creeping up on me. Once I see that happening, I cut back again. Time wasters are things that don’t add value to life, but that you do anyway. I try to cut back on these items because they ruin my work life balance. I have to work extra to make up for them, or I realize I’m not living my life because I’m spending too much time on YouTube.

Ask for Flexibility

Finally, ask for flexibility. Look for ways that you can add more flexibility to your work schedule. Many jobs now don’t need to be done at the office all the time. I know people who telecommute once or twice a week, and others who are allowed to have flexible hours, coming in an hour or two later or earlier and leaving on a different schedule. In some cases, companies are getting rid of the divisions between sick leave and vacation time, and just combining it all into personal time — and allowing more people to take unpaid time if they want.

Ask for flexibility, and you might get it. If you don’t, you can start looking for a job that provides you with a little more flexibility.

I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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