5 Tips for Staying Focused and Leading a Balanced Life

As a 21st Century female, we are expected to be successful, be driven, stay fit, eat healthy, be a friend, have a family, the list goes on. Needless to say, it can get difficult and overwhelming to think about all your responsibilities and how you will juggle them all. Below are some tips I’ve taken up over the years that help me achieve both personal and professional goals, as well as stay focused and interested in the work I am doing, no matter what that is.

1. Take mental and physical breaks

We all have those days: deadline is coming up and you are in a time crunch, so many meetings your head is spinning, constantly stressed about how much work is still remaining, etc. When you have a day like that, it’s important to remember to take breaks. Breaks not only give your brain and body a chance to breathe, but can actually help improve your mental acuity and overall health. Stuck on a problem? Take a walk, have a conversation with a coworker. Sometimes its in those moments that you step away from the problem that the solution becomes more clear. Set a timer, step away from the keyboard, take a breather, and come back recharged and revitalized with a fresh perspective.

2. Add to-do’s to your calendar

Source: timdecker.com

When I have a lot to do and not a lot time to do everything in, I block off time on my calendar to achieve specific tasks. Having a to-do list works, but as a Product Manager, my schedule is constantly changing and interruptions can arise from every angle, so if I don’t block off time on my calendar to actually do work, I won’t ever find the time to do so. Look at your to-do’s and try to slot in work that can be done in gaps between meetings. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can sometimes be helpful to slot in a quick break on your calendar too to clear your head, get organized, and come back to it (see #1).

3. Plan ahead

Source: vanderbilt.edu

When you have a lot of commitments, it’s important to plan ahead. This will come easier for some and not so much for others. On Sundays (or sometimes Mondays), I like to look at the week ahead to see what social commitments I may have on my calendar so I know I won’t be able to do other activities on those nights and how much food I will need over the week for lunch and dinner. Then I think about the meals I can make over the week with the ingredients I have. I also take a look at the class schedule at my gym so I know which classes I am able to attend. Now that I’ve gotten most of my non-work activities out of the way, I know how much evening time I have left to either organize music, practice DJing, or catch up on TV. Even though this is pretty subtle planning, just laying out all the things I want to accomplish for the week can help get me closer to actually achieving those goals. If there’s something you absolutely need to do but have trouble finding the time or motivation to, put that on your calendar. Having that time already set aside can be the extra boost you needed to get that dreaded chore done (see #2).

4. Keep (or Start) a Hobby

Working all the time and getting stuck in work problems can get me in a rut. I’m lucky to have a hobby I love and a skill I want to continue to craft. If you have a hobby, something you’re really passionate about, you should absolutely make time to continue to pursue this hobby. For me, it’s music. I’ve played an instrument for as long as I can remember, and a few year ago I picked up DJing as new hobby. Using my hands and turntables to manipulate records is really just another instrument, and having this hobby has given me an outlet to express myself, but also help lift me up when I need that boost. DJing has also enabled me to meet many new people I wouldn’t normally otherwise meet, and I’ve made a lot of friendships and connections I will treasure for a long time coming. To prevent yourself from being burnt out, it’s also a good idea to plan ahead and schedule some practice sessions in the week ahead, so you can make sure to hit all your goals for the upcoming week (see #3).

5. Get a good night’s sleep

This one is self-explanatory. Some people need less sleep than others, I am not one of those people. Always get a good night of sleep and get the right amount of hours for you. When you are able to get into a rhythm of good sleep habits, tackling all the challenges in the coming day becomes so much easier.

These tips may seem self-evident, but they are difficult to put into practice. Start slow and try implementing one at a time to avoid being overwhelmed. Please share any additional tips you have that work well for you!




DanwenI am originally from China and grew up in the Greater Boston Area. After graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I spent 2 years in educational publishing then moved to NYC to pursue a career in Marketing. While doing so, I discovered my love for technology and business, and found the perfect intersection in Product Management. When I am not busy building great software for today’s marketers, I am rocking parties as Element of Chaos. Follow me to hear random news about SEO, technology, Boston sports, and music.

Twitter: @danwenchen

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/elementofchaosmusic

Read more about and from the author: Danwen’s WiLab Profile