For a lot of people, maintaining and improving work-life balance requires cutting out or removing a few activities from their usual schedule. Of course, keeping your schedule as simple as possible, setting priorities, and managing your time well are all vital components of work-life balance.
Such steps and components may require you to lessen the work portion so the life component will obtain a more balanced role. Note, though, that even if you have a heavy workload that you can’t easily eliminate, it is still possible to maintain a convenient level of work-life balance.
You just have to commit to attaining to balancing work hours with personal matters. No matter how busy you are with personal matters, family, and work, balancing these vital areas is still possible. How to achieve that is what we are going to tackle in this article.
What Does It Mean to Have a Better Work-Life Balance?
A better and healthy work-life balance can be defined as having boundaries separating your personal affairs and career. It gives you the opportunity to handle both your personal and professional responsibilities well.
Basically, it means that you are enjoying life since you get to balance your personal and professional aspects. This means that one area does not recklessly impede or outweigh the other.
Creating this specific boundary contributes to genuine happiness. It can also keep your stress levels low. In terms of your career, it is the key to improving your job satisfaction and employee morale.
It means you get to leave work in your workspace, which makes it possible for you to utilize your personal time to rest, relax, and take care of yourself and your family members. The problem is that nowadays, it is not that easy to achieve a healthy and better work-life balance.
This concept is not a standard in each workplace and business. In fact, around 52 percent of the workforce does not have a solid work-life balance. This means that not a lot of people get the chance to enjoy the benefits of having this balance.
Important Components of Healthy Work-Life Balance
If you are seriously wondering how to improve work-life balance, then it is crucial to focus on understanding the vital components of a healthy one. Train to attain a healthy work-life balance by focusing on the following components:
This is all about managing yourself adequately, especially in terms of supplying your body with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest/sleep (around eight hours) – With self-management, you have to recognize the fact that you need to use the spaces in your life effectively and that the time and resources available to you are only limited.
Stress is a common occurrence in daily living and your career. There are several tasks and problems that need your attention all the time. The increase in noise, distractions and people around you will require you to improve your adeptness in maintaining calm and tranquility, so you can still work despite being in situations filled with pressure.
In that case, it would be much better to focus on one task or thing at a time, rather than multitasking, which may only aggravate your stress. It helps you avoid burnout, too. This is a good approach for balancing work with your personal concerns.
Another essential component of work-life balance is time management. You need to use your time wisely and effectively, so you won’t end up having to juggle your commitments both in your personal and professional aspects. Use your time optimally as well as the supporting resources available to you.
It is also crucial to improve your time management skills by setting appropriate work-life balance goals. Be more discerning of the things that are truly urgent and important. It requires a full understanding of the things you can do best, when you should do it, and how to assemble the right tools to accomplish certain tasks.
The fact that changes are inevitable in the fast-paced world we have means that you also have to improve your ability to manage changes. This helps to improve your work-life balance based on your desired level.
You have to continuously adopt new methods and re-adapt the others, so you can develop a more successful, happier, and more flourishing work life integration.
Change management will be more effective for you if you make concerted and periodic efforts to make sure that the level and volume of change, both at home and at work, are not too overwhelming for you. It should not also defeat you.
Leisure management is another crucial component of work-life balance. Many people know that attaining a balance between personal/home life and career requires having a clear division or boundary between time for leisure and time for work.
Of course, one of the most crucial areas of living and enjoying a balanced life is taking some quality time off. You need to manage leisure and recreation, too. You need to rest, relax, do activities you love, and hone and practice your passions. All of them contribute to building a more balanced lifestyle that can give you genuine happiness.
If you focus on honing these mentioned components, having a more balanced and happier life is a great possibility.
What Causes Poor Work-Life Balance?
In addition to understanding the major components of a healthy and balanced personal/home life and career, you also have to learn the common causes of having poor balance in such vital areas. That way, you will be able to pinpoint what causes your poor work-life balance and address them directly.
Balance corresponds to self-discipline, which is a vital trait to maintain and restore life balance. Essentially, you need to discipline yourself so you can keep having a more balanced approach to living.
It would be much better if you know how to avoid making the emergency of others your own so it won’t end up giving you additional work.
Poor use of time
This means not having excellent time management skills. If that is your case, there is a high chance that you will face trouble when it comes to finding balance frequently.
Procrastination will become your biggest enemy as it steals your time because of your poor and unwise use of it.
Your fears may also be the ones that are holding you back, causing you to have a hard time attaining the right balance between your personal life and career. It could be that you are afraid of change, failure, or not being good enough. You have to address this fear if you want to finally enjoy having a more balanced life and career.
Prioritizing other’s needs instead of your own
It could be because you have a hard time saying no or you are someone who cares too much about what others think of you in case you put yourself ahead of others. If you constantly put the needs of others ahead of your own, you will end up losing the balance in your life. You may even lose time for yourself.
Lack of structure
Remember that you need a hierarchy of your goals so you won’t end up creating a mess in your personal life and career. Learn your top-level priorities and values and what you can do to connect primary areas of your life, including work and relationships.
Ensure that you do not end up lacking sufficient structure as it may negatively affect your work productivity and balance.
Regardless of the cause of your poor work-life balance, you have to do something about it. Your goal should be to improve the balance in your life to avoid the consequences of an unhealthy one, including high stress levels, poor productivity, unhealthy and toxic relationships with others, and poor performance at work.
Working on achieving a work-life balance can also contribute to optimal physical wellbeing and good mental health.
Top 12 Tips in Achieving Work-Life Balance
Now that you know what a healthy work-life balance is, its primary components, and the possible causes of having poor balance, it is time to take action. If you feel like there is a lack of balance in your personal life and career, then here are the top 12 tips and tricks to finally achieve your much-aspired good work-life balance:
#1 – Know when and how to say “no”
In other words, you should start politely declining and rejecting favors or requests from people if you feel like you already have too much on your plate. Remember that you don’t have to please everyone so it is okay to say no every now and then.
By doing this great tip, there is a low chance that you will overwork yourself or spend longer hours than necessary at work, causing you to lose time for your personal affairs. If you know how to say no, you can avoid unpleasant situations, like losing time for your family and yourself. It can also prevent poor quality of work and strained relationships.
To make this possible, assess your workload and your usual daily demands. Learn how to prioritize and articulate your already existing tasks. The goal here is to find out whether you still have the time and capacity to take on more tasks and responsibilities.
Once you start to say no to things with the least priority, you will feel a lot lighter. The reason is that it frees up your energy and time, so you can say yes to things that are of more importance to you and attend to them.
#2 – Develop a productive and supportive workspace
You also have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance if you ensure that you are at the peak of your productivity during your work hours. You can heighten your productivity by ensuring that your workspace is conducive to it.
Never make the mistake of working in an unproductive work environment. If you do, then you will be at risk of feeling pressured and stressed while keeping your productivity low.
Arrange your workspace in such a way that it can inspire you to be productive. For instance, you have to organize the things you need for work in such a way that you can easily access them. Having your work essentials within easy reach will surely motivate you to work.
Ensuring that you are in a productive work environment also means that you can lessen the stress brought on by being overworked, thereby preventing you from bringing that stress home and releasing it to your loved ones.
It can improve your happiness at work, thereby making you feel a greater sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, both of which are important factors for success and for attaining good professional reputation.
#3 – Build boundaries
Work-life balance can also be improved if you establish boundaries between your work and personal matters. This means it is time for you to stop responding to work-related concerns and questions beyond work hours and especially once you have already reached home.
You have to set boundaries to avoid mixing work-related stuff with personal stuff. Once your workday is over, stop entertaining anything related to work. Yes, there may still be instances when urgent matters pop up.
For instance, there may be something urgent that may require you to take a personal call during your work schedule. Or it could be the other way around – you have to fix a problem at work when you are already at home.
It is okay to do that but only occasionally. Avoid making it a norm. When it comes to setting boundaries to achieve work-life balance, take note that it is not only for people. It could also be boundaries you need to establish for yourself, such as making your weekends exclusive for yourself and loved ones or not logging in to social media at work.
#4 – Do not forget to take breaks
Note that even half a minute of microbreak is important in boosting your focus and concentration, making you feel engaged, and lowering your stress level. It can also improve the level of your enjoyment and satisfaction in the workplace.
You have to be more mindful of spending some time for a quick break if you are working remotely or from home. As much as possible, take a 15-minute break every after seventy-five to ninety minutes of work. This should be enough to refresh your brain, ensuring that it continues to retain and consolidate learning.
Also, note that your focus will dwindle every ninety minutes, so it would be best to take a quick break after that period to avoid physiological fatigue. Use your lunch break, too, instead of eating at your desk and spending your free time during lunch to work still.
A wise advice is to use your lunch break to be mindful of and enjoy your meals. Feel free to use this time to do a quick breathing exercise or meditation session. This is particularly helpful if you have an extremely high level of stress.
#5 – Give importance to your health
Make sure that you still put your mental, physical and emotional health on top of your priorities. It is one solution to improve your work-life balance. You have to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape as such will help you become a more effective and productive employee and person.
One thing to note is that your decision to prioritize your health does not require you to do extreme or radical activities. You can do things as simple as incorporating a few minutes of exercise or meditation session into your daily routines.
Are you dealing with depression or anxiety disorder? Then make sure that you include think therapy in your regular schedule if you feel like it is the one that will help you recover.
In case you are ill, do not hesitate to use your sick leaves. Do not force yourself to work if you don’t feel good and use your paid time off, instead. Stop overworking yourself, too, as it may only put your health at risk, further increasing the number of your days off in case you develop some medical conditions.
#6 – Care for yourself
Remember that the key to coping with stress and properly balancing your career and personal stuff is a healthy lifestyle. It is time to watch out what you eat. Eat only healthy foods, get enough rest and sleep, and ensure that your daily routines include exercise or physical activity.
Your goal should be to keep your body fit and healthy so you can avoid certain health issues and make your body strong enough to work. Note, though, that self-care is not just limited to the ones mentioned. It should also include the following crucial things:
Rest and relax
Make it a regular habit to set some time doing the activities you love and enjoy. It could be yoga, reading, or gardening. These are relaxing and enjoyable hobbies that can take your mind away from work, thereby letting you recharge.
You may also want to start discovering some enjoyable activities you can do with others. It could be hiking, a cooking class, or dancing that you can take and do together with your partner, friends, or family.
Volunteering is also one way to care for yourself. Yes, it involves helping others but you can also benefit from it. It can enhance your social connections plus make you feel better because it can improve your satisfaction while keeping your psychological distress low.
Build a support system
Spend time building a solid support network, too. In the workplace, for instance, it helps to build a strong support system composed of co-workers who will act as your friends in case you are dealing with personal issues or family conflicts.
You can also build strong relationships at home. Your support network may include your trusted loved ones or friends whom you can enlist to help with household responsibilities or child care in case there is a need for you to work late.
All these activities can help you focus on caring for yourself and ensuring that you won’t get completely stressed out by either work or personal stuff.
#7 – Learn how to detach yourself from work
If you work from home or have this habit of using technology often so you can connect yourself to work even at home, there is a high chance that you will feel like you are on the job all the time. The problem with this is that it can result in chronic stress.
It is time to get yourself detached from work once your shift is already over. If necessary, seek the help or guidance of your superior or manager regarding expectations as to when you should disconnect.
In case you are in a work-from-home setup or working remotely, make it a point to dress for work. Ensure to set aside a quiet and dedicated workspace in your home, too. That way, once you have completed your workday, you can easily detach from your job.
You can then transition to your living arrangements at home by changing your attire. Make sure that you truly feel that you have already ended your shift by doing things that are no longer part of work. Some examples are taking a walk or drive and playing with your kids.
#8 – Stop being a perfectionist
Note that some people find it hard to attain a proper balance between work and personal life because of their perfectionism. If you are one of them, then it is time to limit your tendency to become a perfectionist.
Ensure that you know how to distinguish perfectionism from working hard. Keep in mind that you have a much higher likelihood of attaining work excellence while attending to the needs of yourself, family, and home than attaining perfection.
Do not force yourself to meet unrealistic work goals as it is only counterproductive. It also makes it even harder to beat and meet deadlines and remain productive in your working hours.
#9 – Choose a career you love
If you are truly passionate about your career and you genuinely love it, there is a high chance that you will feel completely satisfied and happy about it. Pick a job that you are truly passionate about so you will always be motivated to fulfill your duties and responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.
Take some time to assess whether you love and enjoy the position and field you are presently in. If you feel unsatisfied, reflect on the things you can do to improve your level of happiness in your chosen field.
If possible, take your present transferrable skills and experience as well as personal hobbies into consideration. You should then determine how to use them to encourage a kind of transition to a job or career you truly enjoy.
#10 – Determine your productivity peaks
This is important as knowing the time when your productivity is at its peak will help you schedule your most important tasks there. Note that productivity peaks differ from one person to another.
There are those who are more creative and productive early in the morning while others tend to start their day slower since they feel like they can work better in the afternoons. As an employee, you have to find out what particular time of day your productivity peaks, so you can structure your to-do list based on that.
The goal here is for you to play to your strengths and structure your workloads in such a way that they are in your most productive periods. By doing that, you can lower the risk of procrastination. You can also avoid the frustration that may result from being less productive.
Scheduling your priority tasks on the hours you are most productive will let you finish a lot of tasks in a short amount of time. This is good if you want to have more than enough free time to do the things you love and attend to your personal concerns.
#11 – Develop a long-term plan
Your plan should consist of the goals you intend to attain both in the short-term and long-term. You can actually manage deadline stress if you make a long-term plan composed of completion dates for every upcoming task or project.
Another advantage of building a long-term plan is that your workload will be spread more evenly and realistically. It also gives you the opportunity to identify the goals you have to achieve or the project you should work on right now with just a glance.
#12 – Do not hesitate to ask for help
Another secret to balancing work, personal aspect, and family time is to ask for help. Do not allow yourself to suffer in silence. Never let work pressures escalate to a certain level that you can no longer manage, too.
Remember that there are people around you whom you can ask for help. You don’t have to do it alone all the time. You can always seek the help of your trusted friends, family, colleagues, and superiors if you feel like your job and responsibilities are already too much.
They will be more than willing to share the load with you. Just tell them that you need help as they will be left unaware if you don’t inform them about your struggles. Do not be afraid to seek professional help, too.
If you are one of those workers who need professional help, then use the mental health support, like counseling, that many employers now offer to their workforce. Not everyone takes advantage of this service but it is truly important if you are already having poor health both mentally and physically.
As you can see, achieving a work-life balance does not just depend on a single factor. You can’t expect it to be all about the number of days or weeks you take for vacation time or the number of your work hours.
As an employee who also has your own personal matters to attend to, you need unique support to survive at work while maintaining a fulfilling, happy, and healthy life. By doing the tips mentioned in this article, achieving optimal work-life balance is possible.
Just remember that when you are still trying to balance work and personal affairs, comparing yourself to others and your own self during various situations is not a good idea. Continue reminding yourself that work-life balance means differently to different people.
It also looks different at various times and periods of your life. That said, you have to work on attaining the perfect work-life balance based on what works for you exactly, so you can spend time on what truly matters to you.