Balancing your professional and personal life can be challenging, but it’s essential. Here’s how to improve your work-life balance today.
The Importance of Work-Life Balance
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 also our career.
Understanding Work-Life Balance
In short, 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. Some common reasons that lead to a poor work-life balance include:
- Increased responsibilities at work
- Working longer hours
- Increased responsibilities at home
- Having children
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 as well.
“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,” says Chris Chancey, a career expert, and CEO of Amplio Recruiting. Employers that offer options such as telecommuting or flexible work schedules can help employees have a better work-life balance.
Strategies for Improving Work-Life Balance
When creating a schedule that works for you, think about the best way to achieve balance at work and in your personal life. Chancey said that 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.
Here are eight ways to create a better work-life balance, as well as how to be a supportive manager:
1. Accept Imperfection
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.
“It is important to remain fluid and constantly assess where you are [versus] your goals and priorities,” says Heather Monahan, founder of the career mentoring group, #BossinHeels. “Allowing yourself to remain open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day is key in finding balance.”
2. Find a Job You Love
Your career should be exciting enough that you don’t dread getting out of bed every morning. If you hate what you do, consider finding a job that you are so passionate about you would do it for free. “If your job is draining you and you are finding it difficult to do the things you love outside of work, something is wrong,” says Monahan. “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 find a new job.”
3. Prioritise Your Health
Your physical, emotional, and mental health should be your main concern. Prioritizing your health doesn’t have to consist of radical activities. It can be as simple as daily meditation or exercise. “Prioritizing your health first and foremost will make you a better employee and person,” says Monahan. “You will miss less work, and when you are there, you will be happier and more productive.”
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Unplug
Unplugging from work allows you to recover from weekly stress and gives space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Monahan emphasizes the importance of taking that time to unwind to be more energized when you’re on the clock.
5. Take a Vacation
Truly unplugging means taking vacation time and shutting work off for a while. 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. Plan time with your loved ones and prioritize activities that make you happy. “Realize that no one at your company is going to love you or appreciate you the way your loved ones do,” says Monahan.
7. Set Boundaries and Work Hours
Set boundaries for yourself and your colleagues to avoid burnout. Avoid thinking about work outside of office hours and consider having a separate computer or phone for work to shut it off when you clock out. Notify team members and your manager about your boundaries to ensure they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations.
8. Set Goals and Priorities
Implement time-management strategies and analyze your to-do list to prioritize tasks that have value. Structure your day to increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work.
Improving your work-life balance requires deliberate action and continuous assessment of your needs and priorities. By taking steps to create a healthier balance between your professional and personal life, you can enhance your overall well-being and career satisfaction.