Guest article from smartbusinessfunder.com by Kenison Fatal
How often do you check your phone or email for messages from work throughout the day? If you work in a demanding fast-paced environment, then you probably check pretty often. And even if you don’t, do you often find yourself feeling irritable, stressed, or too tired to spend time with others? If so, chances are you’re suffering from a poor work-life balance and you’re not alone.
In a recent study conducted by Sleep Junkie, about 60 percent of American employees working 50 or more hours per week feel overworked. What’s more, overworked workers are prone to be actually less productive, more hostile and at risk for health concerns like mental health issues, heart disease, and even death.
Scary right? But what is work-life balance? A work-life balance basically describes one’s ability to manage their time between their career and their personal life. A good work-life balance can offer many benefits other than decent health to an individual. Workers who have good work-life balance tend to be more productive, highly motivated, and less likely to leave a company. At an organizational level, a steady work-life balance can improve customer service, reduce absenteeism, increase engagement, and lower healthcare costs.
With all of this in mind, one might ask what’s keeping people from achieving a steady work-life balance? Some of the reasons for this include long hours, heavy workloads, pressure from management and in some cases, problems stemming from one’s personal life. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough but not impossible to achieve. To help, here are five things you can do to improve your work-life balance.
Prioritize Your Time
Sometimes, it may feel like we’re juggling a million different things throughout the day. The problem is that there’s only so much that one can do in a day, meaning that your time is very limited. Instead, write down your biggest responsibilities and rank them in terms of how important they are to you. After you do this, devote your energy to getting only the most critical tasks done when you have the time. Creating a closed to-do list is a good place to start when it comes to managing your daily tasks. Prioritizing your time also means minimizing how much time you spend on other activities that don’t add value to your professional or personal life.
Don’t Overcommit Yourself
When you overcommit to doing something, you put yourself at risk for stretching yourself too thin. Now, being committed to taking on more responsibility is not always a bad thing for those who can handle it. Still, it’s best that you limit yourself to how much more work you can take on so you don’t burn yourself out. This means learning how to say “no” when needed. Saying “no” to a friend, family, or coworker can be hard, and to your boss it may seem impossible. To help, set boundaries, delegate tasks, or when someone asks, be upfront and politely say that you can’t help at this time. When it comes to saying “no” to your boss, this could be tricky. Instead, try to explain that you take any new assignments immediately because of your commitment to other projects. This will lighten your workload so that you can have more time for yourself.
Setting goals and sticking to them can be hard when you don’t know where to start. To get you started, ask yourself why having work-life balance is important to you. Finding that deep connection between your work-life balance goals and the reasons why you want to achieve it will help motivate you to stay committed to that goal. When you’ve found that reason, write down your goals so that you can keep track and see how you’re doing. If you can, get a partner who shares the same goals as you so that you can both be accountable for each other’s progress. When it comes to reaching your goals, start small, stay consistent, and celebrate your big wins.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re busy working day in and day out, it’s easy to take your physical health for granted. If you’re looking for a fun way to de-stress and stimulate yourself, there’s no better activities than exercising and meditating. Working out can help you uplift your mood, boost energy, improve cognitive function, and prevent or manage some of the health problems mentioned above. Other activities like yoga and meditation can improve your physical health as well as improve your mental well-being too. Of course personal care doesn’t end with these two activities. Taking time off to rejuvenate, starting a new hobby, and spending quality time with family and friends are all a part of personal care too. Whatever you choose to do outside of work, make sure it is something that you’re very passionate about. A strong body and mind is key to creating balance in your life.
Change Your View
This might sound contradictory, but in some cases achieving a work-life balance can be impossible. Some might even say that attaining a real work-life balance is unrealistic. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about that. If you feel that achieving a work-life balance is out of reach for you, try changing your perspective of it instead. Some experts say that embracing a work-life blend is a more practical approach. If you can, try to find ways to make your work-life as convenient to you as possible. You can start by asking your employer if they offer flex time which would allow you to work the same hours but at different times. You could also invest your time and energy into producing quality work as opposed to meaningless work that would put you at risk for burn-out. Talking with other coworkers or professionals in your industry through networking or joining forums could also help.
Achieving balance in your life isn’t always going to be easy. Many of us struggle to fit time in the day to meet the demands of our professional lives while trying to squeeze in time for others and ourselves. When it comes to having a balanced work-life, there is no one size fits all answer. Creating a healthy work-life is a continuous process that at times, isn’t going to always work. But instead of giving up, take the time to pinpoint the biggest priorities in your life and decide what changes you think should be made to keep them. Keep your well-being in mind and find what works for you so that you can tip the scales in your favor.
Photo via Pixabay
People who hold high-powered positions or are required to work substantial overtime often struggle to find the time to pursue personal goals or devote the attention to their families that they deserve. The stress that comes from trying to provide for your family while still being present is all too real. Here are a few tips to get the best of both worlds.
Be Mindful About Social and Work-Related Drinking
Some professionals enjoy grabbing a drink with coworkers after a long day at the office, and for many people, it’s a harmless way to blow off steam. Just be conscious of how often you go and how much you drink while you’re out. Limit yourself to a drink or two, and be sure you’re drinking water at the same time. Post-work drinks can be a great way to bond with your colleagues, but too many can lead to some unprofessional antics you might regret later. Plus, the longer and more often you’re out, the less time you have to spend with your family.
You might even discover you prefer to have a soda or iced tea instead of an alcoholic drink. That way, you can still reap the benefits of spending off-hours time with your coworkers without running the risk of overindulging.
Define What Balance Means to You
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving harmony between work and home, because success looks different to everyone. The first step in working toward greater harmony is to define specifically what that looks like to you. Does it mean attending every Little League game or sitting down for a family meal every evening? Perhaps it means being able to unplug and devote your undivided attention to your family one day each week.
The key to achieving the ideal balance is to know precisely what it means to you. Only then can you set realistic, actionable goals and work toward making your vision a reality.
Make Deliberate Choices
To avoid feeling overworked and overwhelmed, people faced with these circumstances must master the art of making deliberate choices. You may find that it’s sometimes necessary to tell your boss that you’re not able to work overtime so that you can attend your daughter’s dance recital. Or, you might decide to turn down an opportunity that’s likely to take more time away from your family, perhaps requiring you to work out of town during the week. Whatever choices you’re faced with, evaluate the pros and cons carefully, and make deliberate decisions in your and your family’s best interests.
Schedule Time for Everything
Some busy professionals swear by a running to-do list, while others find the never-ending nature of such lists overwhelming. Whether you’re a list-maker or a roll-with-the-punches type of person, scheduling can help you stay on task and better balance the demands of work and home.
Scheduling blocks of time for work tasks, meetings, and appointments as well as baseball games, dance recitals, and events at your child’s school will help you avoid overlap and enable you to better manage your time. Lists are great for outlining what you need to do, but schedules will increase the odds that you’ll actually get it done.
Prioritize Taking Care of You
If you tend to sacrifice your own needs to be there for others, you might actually be setting yourself up for failure. While it may seem like you have no choice when there are simply not enough hours in the day, the truth is that prioritizing self-care is the best way to be present and be your best self when you are serving others.
How can you prioritize self-care for better harmony between work and home? Make sure that you get enough sleep each night, eat a well-balanced diet, and take time to exercise regularly. When you’re well-rested and your body is getting the right mix of vital nutrients, you’ll perform better and be more productive at both work and home. Productivity, of course, means that you’ll progress through work tasks with greater ease, reducing the odds that you’ll fall behind and end up missing out on quality family time to catch up.
When you learn how to make deliberate choices, schedule your time effectively, monitor work-related drinking, and take care of your body and mind, you might just find that making the transition back home is more within reach than you think.