Having a great work-life balance is hard, but also possible when taking the right steps. Do you work too much? Have no time for your family or yourself? Are you constantly stressed out and unhappy with the way things are going in your life?
If you feel like the demands of life are wearing you out, it’s time to make some changes. There are several things you can do to improve your work-life balance and regain control over your life.
In this article, we look at some common causes of work-life balance problems and how to fix them. We also take a look at the many positive benefits that could potentially result from improving your work-life balance.
Why is Work-life Balance Important?
Work-life balance is something that has been talked about a lot in recent years. A lot of people these days are finding it harder and harder to manage their work, family, and social lives.
This isn’t anything new – work-life balance issues have been around for a long time. It’s just that now there are more demands on our time than ever before. This is particularly true for people who work.
People who are tired after a long day at work, and then need to pick up kids from school, help them with their homework, cook dinner and spend some quality time with the family can often end up cutting back on their personal time.
This may involve going to bed later, or just being too tired to do the things they used to enjoy. The problem with cutting back on your time is that it can lead to a reduction in happiness, as well as health problems.
This is why work-life balance is important. If you are unhappy with how much free time you have or how stressful your life is, then you should consider ways to improve your work-life balance.
This can give you more joy in your life and lead to a reduction in health problems.
What Does a Good Work-life Balance Look Like?
A good work-life balance looks like having a healthy work-life and personal life.
In practical terms, the top 10 ways you know you have a good balance are:
- You get more sleep on weekdays than on weekends.
- Your social life is just as busy as your work schedule.
- You look forward to getting home from work each day, so you can spend time with the family.
- When it comes to food, you eat more home-cooked meals than takeout or restaurant food.
- You have enough time to do the things you want on your weekends off.
- When you’re at home, you’re able to completely let go of work concerns.
- You are not stressed or worried about work when you are with your family or friends.
- Your spouse/partner agrees that your work-life balance is good.
- You do not feel guilty for taking time off work.
- You have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues.
How to Regain Control over Work-life Balance
There are various steps you can take to improve your work-life balance. They all have different impacts, so you might want to try a couple of them to see how they work for you.
Let’s have a look at a few of them.
Pause and denormalize
Sometimes a pause is all you need to regain control over your work-life balance. If you schedule a pause, then this can give you time to stop and think about what’s important in your life at the moment.
It forces you to step back from the busyness of daily pressures and think about how you are spending your time. You may find that once you’ve paused for a while, things seem clearer and easier to handle.
To maximize the benefits of pausing, try doing something physical – such as going outside for a walk – during a pause.
This should help clear your mind further so that you have a better sense of perspective when it comes to working out which aspects of your life deserve the most attention right now.
Pay attention to your emotions
One of the major reasons people have a hard time managing their work-life balance is that they neglect their own emotions. When you’re working, you may be thinking about how busy and stressful your job is.
You may also be worrying about things that could go wrong in the future. And when you are with your family, thoughts of work may continue to occupy part of your mind.
As a result, when it comes to making decisions or prioritizing tasks, many people ignore what they want and need at the moment in favor of what they think will make them happy in a few weeks’ time.
This leads to only focusing on one aspect of their life at any given moment. It’s hardly surprising that this can cause problems. If you are feeling stressed out, upset, or unhappy in your personal life, then it becomes even more difficult to manage your work-life balance.
In other words, you need to pay attention to your emotions if you want to have a healthier work-life balance.
When you have a hard time achieving a good work-life balance, it’s often because your priorities are wrong.
In other words, if you focus on what is most important to you at the moment, then this can help resolve any difficulties with juggling different aspects of your life.
If you’re finding that your personal and professional lives suffer as a result of having too much to do and not enough time in which to do it, then try reprioritizing.
If not, cross them off your list until they become more relevant again. If you have a hard time getting your priorities right, then you must take some time out of your schedule to pause and think about things.
Consider your alternatives
Do you need to work on the weekends, or go into the city for a business meeting? Are there other ways in which you can achieve your aims more effectively?
When you are having trouble achieving a good work-life balance, it’s often because your schedule is too busy. As such, taking some time out to consider your alternatives can be an effective strategy for regaining control over your situation.
You may find that it is possible to make changes that either make things less rushed and frantic or enable you to do away with unnecessary tasks altogether.
Even if changing things isn’t possible, simply knowing this will help you feel better about juggling different aspects of your life. Either way, it’ll leave you feeling more at ease and in control.
Once you have finished reviewing the situation, try to list which things are most important to you right now. This will help you prioritize your schedule.
For example, if spending time with family is an irreplaceable element of happiness for you, then make sure that you schedule some time away from work as regularly as possible.
Similarly, there may be certain tasks or projects that genuinely bring joy and fulfillment into your life, so dedicate as much time as possible to those activities.
The more control over your schedule and commitments you can take back, the better off everyone involved will be.
Reasons for Imbalance in Work-life Balance
There are various reasons why work-life balance is often a challenge for many people.
Here are 7 of the most common ones:
- Too much stress from your job
- Working in an understaffed position
- Too many other commitments both at work and outside of the workplace
- Having to deal with negative co-workers who are unhappy or not doing their job
- Having no say in decisions that affect your work-life
- No support from management
- Not enough support networks (friendships, family)
How to Improve Work-life Balance
Keeping track of work-life balance is important because it helps individuals and companies find a healthy balance between work commitments and their personal lives.
While it sounds simple, working professionals may face challenges such as finding time for non-work activities, making time for family and friends, and taking care of themselves.
Here are some suggestions to help you improve your work-life balance.
Find time to take care of yourself
Your ability to be successful in both your professional life and your personal life is directly related to how well you take care of yourself.
Make sure that you get enough sleep each night, eat nutritious food regularly, exercise regularly, stay hydrated throughout the day, schedule doctor’s appointments when necessary, maintain contact with family & friends through phone calls or visits if possible, etc.
Plan to find time for other activities
You may find that the only time you have for yourself is when you’re at home during your free time. While this is important, try to plan so that you can still spend some quality time with family and friends.
If not, schedule other activities such as exercising or recreational activities to pursue during your downtime. This way, you won’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself but will also be able to enjoy spending time with people who matter to you the most.
If you can’t take a break from work, then make sure that there are no distractions around you. Make sure that your phone is on silent mode, close your social media accounts, let your co-workers know that you’re busy, etc.
Knowing how to manage your time better will help you get more done in less time so that there’s even more of it for yourself at the end of the day.
Explore options for increasing workplace flexibility
Many employers offer flexible work hours and telecommuting as perks because they recognize that employees need to be productive and happy during their workday, not just physically present.
If possible, see if there are opportunities available where you can adjust your schedule or other aspects of worksite rules so that it blends better with your personal life.
If none exist, reach out to HR and speak up about what would make you happier since chances are, other employees may also benefit from the changes.
Cut back on unnecessary commitments
It’s important to be productive and successful in what you do, but try to avoid taking on too many projects or responsibilities that aren’t required of you at work.
This is especially true for those who want to take advantage of flexible work arrangements because it can put a lot more pressure on them which may lead to them burning out faster than employees who do not have as much responsibility outside of work.
Consider different job or career options
Sometimes a job gets worse during some period of time, terms in the workplace become worse and frustration with work rises every week. It is time to consider looking at different options for a job or even a career change.
How to Establish Work-life Balance at Work
Here are the steps to take if you want to improve your work-life balance, whether you work in a traditional office or from home.
Set manageable goals each day
By setting goals, you’ll have a better idea of how much work you have to do and what specific tasks have to be completed.
At the same time, setting goals can help motivate you so that you don’t feel unmotivated at the thought of doing a lot of work.
Be efficient with your time at work
Since employees are expected to get more done in less time, they must master the art of being efficient when it comes to how they spend their hours at work. It’s not just about working faster but also getting more done without necessarily increasing the amount of stress on yourself.
For this to happen, make sure that you come prepared by having everything necessary on hand before starting on a project or task and find ways to multitask whenever possible.
Ask for flexibility
Agreeing on a flexible work arrangement can go a long way in helping employees achieve a better balance between their professional and personal lives.
Since telecommuting is becoming more popular, there are also other alternatives such as working nontraditional hours or taking an extended break during the middle of the day so you can spend time at home, run errands, or just take care of your health.
The important thing is that you explore all the options available and then speak with your boss about what changes you’d like them to make.
If they don’t seem to be accommodating those requests, consider if it’s worth staying where you are or if it would be best to look elsewhere for work since it’s unlikely that anything will change if they don’t want to accommodate you.
Having a break once in a while is important to keep yourself motivated and focused when it comes to doing your job.
Take five minutes, 10 minutes, or even 15 minutes once in a while to take care of yourself outside of work. It’ll give you the energy you need so that you can stay productive without burning out.
During this time, make sure to check in with your boss and colleagues to see if there’s anything you can do to help out. Been working on a project that needs an extra hand? Is someone sick or having difficulties with something outside of work?
Being able to help them will allow you to feel like you’re needed and not just another cog in the machine. At the same time, it’ll also give you the chance to get more invested in what goes on at work since being involved helps build camaraderie among employees who are willing to go the extra mile for each other.
You must communicate with your co-workers so that they have a better understanding of how much effort goes into everything you do at work.
This goes double for managers who have to understand that not everything is black or white and sometimes employees have to sacrifice or miss out on certain opportunities because of the time they need to put into their job.
Give yourself a break
Giving your mind some rest allows you to take better care of yourself, recharge your batteries, and come back with more energy than before.
This also means finding time for friends and family so that you can maintain those personal relationships.
Even though it’s true that there are only 24 hours in a day, making sure that you get quality sleep each night will make all the difference when it comes to how you perform at work since it’ll prevent burnout and help you avoid mistakes that can cost your company money.
At the same time, this will also mean staying away from stress-inducing activities that cause tension between you and others, which is simply counterproductive both at home and at work.
If making sure that your mind stays sharp means breaking the habit of sitting for too long whenever you’re doing something, then go for a short walk or do some stretches before or after dinner. This might not seem like much but it’ll make an impact on your health in the long run.
How to Establish Work-life Balance at Home
While the work aspect is crucial to consider, it’s also a good idea to consider what you can do in the home environment to build a better life at home. There are some things you can do at home that will make sure you get more from your day.
Let’s look at these factors.
When you get home, take some time to disconnect yourself from work by turning off your phone, computer, and other devices. This is important because it’ll give you a chance to breathe while taking care of personal matters that require your attention.
You may find that the time spent at home gives you more opportunities for self-growth through local activities or even volunteering.
Spending time with family will also ensure that all relationships are nurtured so you don’t have to worry about tensions arising once you go back to work.
Divide and conquer
Some things need your undivided attention while others can be done in shorter blocks of time depending on how long it takes you to finish them.
For example, you may have to write a report that requires an entire day of work but making sure that your kids get ready for school can be done in just 30 minutes.
You’ll find that it’s easier to complete your tasks when you organize them and this means giving yourself deadlines based on how long things take rather than thinking about how much time you need to finish everything.
It might not be easy to work and manage all aspects of your life on your own. This is where family members or friends who live close by can come into play since they can help out with daily activities like checking in with the kids or taking your dog for a walk when you have work deadlines.
Of course, there are also times when only an expert will do. This is where hiring domestic help can come in since they’ll be able to clean up messes around the house while also making sure that it runs smoothly.
You may have to pay someone to ensure that your home is free of clutter and pet hair, which is something you wouldn’t want to deal with after a long day at work.
The saying ” An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” couldn’t be truer Spending too much time at home without anything else to focus on might lead to boredom and other problems like depression so it’s best to take your mind off of things by engaging in activities that can get your blood pumping.
This might mean playing games that require thinking, taking up a new hobby, or even joining local organizations where you’ll meet people who are looking to do the same things as you.
Treat your body right
Most people spend more time thinking about their work than they do their well-being. This is problematic because neglecting yourself will only lead to increased health problems down the line and cause tension with others.
The good thing is that there are ways for you to think about your health without it impacting your overall productivity at home or work. Let’s look at some of these factors.
On a typical day, you’ll spend about 10 hours sitting in front of your computer which leads to a lot of tension in the neck and shoulders. This is why you need to take 10 minutes every hour or so to stretch out.
In addition, make sure that you incorporate more movement into your daily routine by going for walks when possible. You may also consider installing a standing desk at work if you want an easy way to add more activity to your life.
Get help if needed
Some people have no choice but to put their health aside for them to do their job well. But even then, they should consider informing their employer about past or current health problems that might still affect them.
Perhaps they’re able to get around it by taking short breaks every hour and making sure they do simple stretches when no one’s looking.
Still, there might be times when you’ll need to ask for help, such as through the use of ergonomic computer chairs, better keywords, or other equipment that makes your work life easier.
The key here is finding solutions that can keep you in the workforce without having to worry about your physical condition deteriorating over time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Work-Life Balance
What does having a work-life balance mean?
Having a work-life balance is when you can do your job well without neglecting yourself, your family, and the other things in your life.
What is a poor work-life balance?
If you neglect your well-being, your family, and other things in life because you’re spending all of your time working, this might be considered a poor work-life balance.
What are three things you consider important to maintain a work-life balance?
Staying active, treating your body right, and getting help when needed are three things you consider important to maintain a work-life balance.
Case Studies, Academic, and Research-Based Sources:
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- Kossek, E. E., & Ozeki, C. (1998). “Work-family conflict, policies, and the job-life satisfaction relationship: A review and directions for organizational behavior-human resources research.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(2), 139.
- Friedman, S. D., & Greenhaus, J. H. (2000). “Work and family – allies or enemies? What happens when business professionals confront life choices.” New York: Oxford University Press.
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