Often, work takes precedence over everything else in our lives. Our desire to succeed professionally can push us to set aside our own well-being. Creating a harmonious work-life balance or work-life integration is critical, though, to improve not only our physical, emotional and mental well-being, but it’s also important for our career.
Work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.
A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being. This not only benefits employees but employers, too.
Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce. Work life balance options often include telecommuting or flexible work schedules.
Work-life balance is less about dividing the hours in your day evenly between work and personal life and, instead, is more about having the flexibility to get things done in your professional life while still having time and energy to enjoy your personal life. There may be some days where you work longer hours so you have time later in the week to enjoy other activities.
Below are eight ways to create a better work-life balance:
1. There is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance.
Don’t strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one. Some days, you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not each day.
2. Find a job that you love and are passionate about.
Although work is an expected societal norm, your career shouldn’t be restraining. If your job is draining you, and you are finding it difficult to do the things you love outside of work, something is wrong. You may be working in a toxic environment, for a toxic person, or doing a job that you truly don’t love. If this is the case, it is time to move on.
3. Prioritize your health.
Prioritizing your health doesn’t have to consist of radical or extreme activities. It can be as simple as daily meditation or exercise. Your health first and foremost will make you a better employee and person and you will miss less work, and when you are there, you will be happier and more productive. Your overall physical, emotional and mental health should be your main concern.
4. Don’t be afraid to unplug.
Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Unplugging can mean something simple like practicing transit mediation on your daily commute, instead of checking work mails. Taking that time to unwind is critical to success and will help you feel more energized when you’re on the clock.
5. Take a vacation.
Sometimes, truly unplugging means taking vacation time and shutting work completely off for a while. Whether your vacation consists of a one-day staycation or a two-week trip to Bali, it’s important to take time off to physically and mentally recharge. The truth is, there is no nobility in not taking well-deserved time away from work; the benefits of taking a day off far outweigh the downsides. With proper planning, you can take time away without worrying about burdening your colleagues or contending with a huge workload when you return.
6. Make time for yourself and your loved ones.
While your job is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position, and you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that make you happy. If you do not firmly plan for personal time, you will never have time to do other things outside of work. Everyone is replaceable at work, and no matter how important you think your job is, the company will not miss a beat tomorrow if you are gone.
7. Set boundaries and work hours.
Set boundaries for yourself and your colleagues to avoid burnout. When you leave the office, avoid thinking about upcoming projects or answering company emails. Consider having a separate computer or phone for work, so you can shut it off when you clock out. If that isn’t possible, use separate browsers, emails or filters for your work and personal platforms.
Set specific work hours. Whether you work away from home or at home, it is important to determine when you will work and when you will stop working; otherwise, you might find yourself answering work-related emails late at night, during vacations or on weekends off. Notifying team members and your manager about boundaries beyond which you cannot be accessible because you are engaged in personal activities. This will help to ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations.
8. Set goals and priorities.
Think about what tasks are most important for achieving a healthy work-life balance and prioritize them. Make your workday as productive as possible by implementing time-management strategies, analyzing your to-do list and cutting out tasks that have little to no value.
Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and block that time off for your most important work-related activities. Avoid checking your emails and phone every few minutes, as those are major time-wasting tasks that derail your attention and productivity. Structuring your day can increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work.
Flexibility can pay off for employers in the long run. It is becoming increasingly clear that in order to remain competitive, employers must find ways to offer flexible work options if they want to attract and retain top talent.