How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today
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.
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 of the common reasons that lead to a poor work-life balance include:
A good work-life balance, said Chris Chancey, career expert and CEO of Amplio Recruiting, 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,” said Chancey. Employers that offer options as telecommuting or flexible work schedules can help employees have a better 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.
1. Accept that there is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance.
When you hear “work-life balance,” you probably imagine having an extremely productive day at work, and leaving early to spend the other half of the day with friends and family. While this may seem ideal, it is not always possible.
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,” said Heather Monahan, founder of the career mentoring group, #BossinHeels. “At times, your children may need you, and other times, you may need to travel for work, but allowing yourself to remain open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day is key in finding balance.”
2. Find a job that you love.
Although work is an expected societal norm, your career shouldn’t be restraining. If you hate what you do, you aren’t going to be happy, plain and simple. You don’t need to love every aspect of your job, but it needs to be exciting enough that you don’t dread getting out of bed every morning.
Monahan recommended 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,” said 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. Prioritize your health.
Your overall physical, emotional and mental health should be your main concern. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you, fit those sessions into your schedule, even if you have to leave work early or ditch your evening spin class. If you are battling a chronic illness, don’t be afraid to call in sick on rough days. Overworking yourself prevents you from getting better, possibly causing you to take more days off in the future.
“Prioritizing your health first and foremost will make you a better employee and person,” said 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.
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 meditation on your daily commute, instead of checking work emails.
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.
According to the State of American Vacation 2018 study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days left over at the end of the year. Employees are often worried that taking time off will disrupt the workflow, and they will be met with a backlog of work when they return. This fear should not restrict you from taking a much-needed break.
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What can you do then…?
If we can make every minute count as much as possible, we should find that the day to day “stuff” doesn’t take over too much and we can have more time for what we really want to be doing.
#1 – Group similar tasks together
If you can group things together into your weekly schedule (errands, phone calls, paying bills etc…) then you’ll get them done much faster than if you did each one as and when it cropped up.
#2 – Meal plan
Meal plans save time because you don’t have to open the cupboards each day and work out what to cook, and you don’t have to take extra trips to the shops to get food because you will have bought your food shop knowing what meals you are cooking for.
#3 – Put things back after you’ve used them
#4 – Make every outing count
TIP – Have a basket by the front door with things that need to go out of the house. You can just grab them when you leave! This works really well for things like library books, dry cleaning, post, borrowed items etc…)
#5 – Double up whenever you can
I spend a lot of my life sitting down writing articles for this site, and as such I wanted to start walking a little more. I also wanted to spend time with my friends each week but we tended to sit and have a coffee.
#6 – Wear the same each day
I don’t literally mean you wear the same clothes every day, but having a type of outfit that is your go-to style can make choosing what you wear so much easier and quicker (there’s science behind it as well!)
#7 – Turn off social media
#8 – Focus, Focus, Focus
#9 – Multitask when it works to do so
#10 – Read using audiobooks
#11 – Food shop online
Most supermarkets now offer this service for a small fee (which I feel is worth paying for the time saved) – and you can even save time deciding what to buy as they will save your favourites in a list so you don’t need to search through every time either.
#12 – Wipe down the shower
#13 – Use waiting time
There are so many times each week that we find ourselves in a queue of some sort. Waiting at the doctors, in a shop, waiting for someone to pick up the phone etc… – so why not use this otherwise wasted time to get some stuff done?
#14 – Cook in bulk
It takes the same amount of time to cook double or even triple for a meal, but if you can get into the habit of cooking more than you need you can save all the prep time another day!
#15 – Delegate
Whether you get the family more involved, or hire some help (even a couple of hours a month can make a massive difference) – there are plenty of ways to save time in this way, in fact, you can get some much needed time back for yourself pretty easily.
#16 – Automate
#17 – Declutter your schedule
#18 – Plan clothes the night before
#19 – Plan your day
#20 – Say ‘NO’ more
#21 – Share lifts for the kids
#22 – Set a timer
#23 – Shop online
#24 – Question what you’re doing
#25 – Cook One pot meals
#26 – Group friends together
It’s always so nice to meet up with friends, but meeting each one takes time. As such, why not go out with a group of friends instead – it saves time as you get to see everyone at once, and you may have even more fun!
#27 – Buy presents when you see them
#28 – Avoid rush hour
#29 – Create a morning routine
#30 – Create an evening routine
#31 – Declutter
One of the most easy things to miss as a time saver is decluttering. When you have less in your home – you have less to clean, less to maintain, less to shop for etc…. – saving masses of time each week!
#32 – Minimise TV time
#33 – Create the perfect layout for your home (for you!)
If you can make sure the layout of your home works well for you then you can save time. Having things in the right room means less time walking around to get things, having the perfect kitchen layout means you don’t have to spend extra time putting things away – every little bit really does help!