Thousands of working professionals struggle with balancing their work lives and their personal lives. When we focus too much time and energy into one area, the other will undoubtedly suffer in some way, shape, or form. Instead of choosing one over the other, we should choose balance. Below, we discuss 5 tips for improved work-life balance.
Once upon a time, there were clear boundaries between work life and home life. The technology of today – however fortunate we are to possess it – keeps us constantly connected to our work life even when we are eating a relaxing dinner at home with our family.
Our work life can eat away at precious time with our loved ones, especially when we feel the immense pressure to please clients, chase promotions, and find success.
Fear of job loss is another incentive that keeps us working long hours. In a Harvard Business School survey, 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week with nearly half reporting more than 65 hours per week.
Our drive for success might have gotten us where we are now, but it can also blur the lines between personal life and professional life.
When you have poor work-life balance, it is important to consider the costs:
Chronic fatigue can end up negatively affecting your work life and home life. When you are overly tired, you are unable to think clearly and accomplish all that you need to.
Lost time with loved ones
Relationships with your friends and family may suffer when you prioritize work over them. This can lead to loneliness or depression.
Overworking can lead to increased amounts of stress, which is a known cause of many health concerns, such as a weakened immune system.
Increased workload and responsibilities
Overcommitting to work responsibilities may lead to more responsibilities and an increased workload. There will be higher expectations placed on you which may present more challenges and struggles.
Work-life balance looks different on everyone
Achieving work-life balance may look different on you than it does on your friend or colleague. Letting go of comparison and expectation will help you find what works best for you in your life.
Finding work-life balance may be challenging, but it is not impossible.
5 Tips for Improved Work-Life Balance
1. Put the phone down
While this may seem impossible because our phones have become extensions of our arms, this is an effective tip for work-life balance. Putting your phone away instead of constantly checking social media notifications or texting allows us to be fully present with our loved ones. It also gives our minds a break from stressing about what we have going on at work and frees us to find peace in the moment.
2. Learn how to say no
Establishing a boundary between work life and home life begins with the word no. This includes saying no to perceived obligations at work and outside of it. Saying yes to every request is putting far too much on your plate and can steal from your peace of mind. People pleasing is a tendency of perfectionists, yet we forget that we must put our own needs first if we want to show up at work and at home as the best possible version of ourselves.
3. Limit email access
Just because we have an app on our phone that allows us access to our emails does not mean that we are required to stay connected to our work email 24/7. Checking our emails every once in a while throughout the day is fine, however if it is robbing us of our home life, then we need to take some measures. Scheduling a time in the morning, afternoon, and evening to sit down and read over or respond to emails is a great way to reduce email access. Another great way is by removing your work email from your phone and limiting your access to your computer or laptop.
4. Exercise and meditate
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”Zen Proverb
We make time in our lives for the crucial things even if we are always busy. For many people, exercise and meditation are not considered crucial and are easily swept aside. It is important to incorporate both of these things into our daily routine to improve work-life balance. Both tasks are effective stress reducers in that they release endorphins and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. We operate under a constant state of stress when we are overloaded with work responsibilities and our sympathetic nervous system (our body’s stress response) takes over and tends to run things. The parasympathetic nervous system is our body’s rest and digest response and calms down our bodies if we are under stress. Simple breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are all activators of the parasympathetic nervous system. When we begin incorporating these practices in our lives, we notice an increase in our physical and mental health and a reduction in stress over time.
5. Schedule family time
We schedule meetings, calls, lunches with clients, and office time. Achieving work-life balance should include scheduling family time as well. Putting lunch with your spouse, your kid’s soccer game, or family time in the evenings on your schedule will bring about the balance you crave in your life. Your family will also notice your attempts to prioritize your time with them and appreciate it..