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5 Healthy Habits For Balancing Your Life And Career

Heidi Zak

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how to set healthy habits

We all have little daily routines that keep us sane.

Whether it’s a cup of coffee at 8 a.m. sharp or a walk during lunch, it’s easy to feel stressed, anxious, and irritable when your schedule gets scrambled.

I hate getting out of my routines. I’m a creature of habit, so when I’m forced out of my groove it really affects my energy level. Just recently, my children’s nanny took a few days off, which meant my husband and I were coordinating and managing the day-to-day like she usually does.

Everything you do in a day takes up mental space and energy. Your habits exist to cut down on the amount of energy you expend each day, so the way you structure your routine is incredibly important.

These are five healthy habits I’ve incorporated to get the most out of my days:

1: Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.

There’s really nothing better than falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day. Your body gets used to it and wants to keep doing it, just like any other routine.

My normal sleep schedule is to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. and wake up around 6:30 a.m. I say “around” because I don’t use an alarm clock. My routine is so ingrained at this point that I wake up at almost the same time every morning without an alarm.

Yes, I try for eight hours of sleep a night. And many times that doesn’t happen with sending out late-night emails or being woken up by one of my kids in the middle of the night. Life happens. But if you’re able to aim for a consistent sleep routine, I’ve found it helps prevent stress and sickness.

2: Avoiding red-eye flights whenever possible.

Speaking of stress and a lack of sleep, I don’t take red-eyes anymore.

I know people will point out that it’s the most “efficient” flight, but any gains in time are off-set when I feel like a zombie for the next two days.

Instead, I try to take daytime flights. I actually love flying during the day because it gives me a chance to catch up on work. There are no meetings or distractions in the air, so I’m able to go through my email and make up the reading I haven’t had time to get to.

3: Sticking to a short commute.

I’ve never had a lengthy commute.

For a long time, that meant living in apartments and neighborhoods I wasn’t crazy about. But the trade-off was worth it. Any gripes I had with my square footage, amenities, or neighborhood were always balanced by the fact I could walk to work in fifteen minutes, rather than spending an hour or more in traffic or on the train.

I realize not everyone has the option of living a few blocks away from work, but I think the real takeaway here is the principle behind a short commute:

  1. Identify the things that drive you crazy.
  2. Do whatever it takes to avoid them.

Even if you have to change your lifestyle in some way, it’s totally worth it if you’re less stressed and tired at the end of your day.

4: Leaving your cellphone in your bag before and after work.

Not long ago, I realized that my phone was distracting me during family time with my kids. I’d be playing a card game with my daughter, but then I’d feel a buzz and reach for my phone.

To combat that, I’ve started putting my phone in my bag before my kids go to school and leaving it there when I get home in the evening. Once they’re all tucked in, I get it out to check my email, texts, or calls.

Getting in the habit of purposefully engaging with the people you’re with is one of the most important healthy habits you can cultivate.

5: Scanning your email inbox quickly in the morning.

I’d be lying if I said I left all my work at the office. The reality is, that’s not an option when running a company.

But I do try to compartmentalize work and family life into different periods of time. So, when I get up in the morning, before the kids are awake, I scan through my email to make sure nothing urgent has come up.

It works well for me because if something does immediately need my attention, I handle it right then and there. When nothing is pressing, I go through the rest of my morning routine with a clear head and a focus on being present with my family.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

Heidi Zak is the co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove. Prior to ThirdLove, Zak cut her teeth in retail at Aeropostale where she quickly rose to Director of the retail giant, launching and running the International Division, before becoming a marketing executive at Google. Zak holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from Duke University and an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her free time she loves spending time with her two kids. Heidi has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People, Goldman Sachs 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, Business Insider's 30 Female-Founded Startups to Watch, and SF Business Times 40 Under 40. Follow her on Instagram: @Heidi.

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