Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about work-life balance.
Chances are one of your new year’s resolutions is to spend more time with loved ones, to excel at work, to work out more or to be more ‘present’. Right? How’s that working out for you? We don’t blame you if you’re having a hard time achieving all of the above. These are pretty lofty goals to achieve. In this blog, you’ll discover the benefits of having a solid work-life balance and more importantly how to achieve it.
It goes without saying that your personal life will improve. You’ll get to spend more time with loved ones. No matter what you want to spend more time on, flexible working will help you do it. You’ll end up happier and will perform better at work.
You're not the only one wanting to spend more time with your friends and family. Studies have shown repeatedly that for certain groups of people work-life balance trumps salary. According to a FlexJobs’ survey, working parents rank work-life balance (84 percent) ahead of salary (75 percent) when considering whether or not to take a job. Work-life balance was also named the top reason working parents seek flexible work, followed by family, time savings, and commuting stress.
The same goes for millennials. Millennials value work-life balance a lot. Research has shown that they care more about work-life balance than career advancement.
If your work-life balance is out of whack, i.e. if you work too hard and are overstressed, you’re jeopardizing your health.
Being tired lowers your immune system and makes you more susceptible to the flu. But even worse, you’re more likely to suffer from serious health conditions like heart conditions, strokes, and respiratory problems.
A study performed by the University College London showed that white-collar workers who worked three or more hours longer than required had 60% higher risk of heart-related problems such as death due to heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks, and angina.
So, look after yourself and limit your overtime. Overtime is sometimes unavoidable, and everyone gets stressed from time to time. But if you find yourself in a state of excessive stress and haven’t seen your children, friends or relatives for weeks on end, you need to change your habits.
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The fact that you never get the flu or are able to run the marathon doesn’t mean that you're not suffering from stress-related issues. There are mental and psychological consequences too. One of them is a burnout.
Burnouts occur when we feel overwhelmed and feel unable to meet constant demands. If the magnitude of the tasks you’re asked to perform is overwhelming or if you’re pitted up against impossible deadlines on regular basis, you need to take a step back and relax. Stats show that the share of workers suffering from burnouts has gone up from 10,4 to 20,9%. And a burnout will negatively affect every aspect of your life.
A solid work-life balance will help you relax and avoid a burnout.
Many professions require a lot of time and effort, and sometimes a lot of downtime just isn’t possible if you’re determined to do well. It’s all about finding you balance. Care to find out how?
If you have a solid work-life balance, you’ll be able to leave your work at work. No need to shush your mother while she asks you if you want more gravy just to answer a work-related mail. No need to take calls from clients while you’re finally having a drink with your crush. You’ll enjoy life more, you’ll live intensely and therefore have more meaningful moments to share on Instagram. #livingmybestlife.
Similarly, when we find and sustain a healthy work-life balance, we develop greater control over our focus and ability to concentrate on the task at hand. If you are in the office, you’ll pay greater focus on the tasks at hand. In turn, this makes you a more efficient, better and happier worker.
As mentioned before, having a healthy work-life balance isn’t just essential to your well-being – it also boosts your productivity.
From finally getting around to practice yoga because you switched off your work phone, to complete a work task you’ve been stuck on for weeks after being able to go back to it with a fresh mindset – creating a good balance between your work life and your personal life will allow you to be more productive in both areas.
If you achieve a healthy work-life balance you’ll be well-rested and less cranky. This will pay dividends at work. You’ll be laser-focused, perform better, get good evaluations, rise up through the ranks and finally end up the head honcho of your company. It’s that easy. No seriously, you’ll enjoy what you’re doing more and be better at it.
These were 5 ways your work-life balance will positively impact your overall well-being. But how do you achieve work-life balance? There are different ways to go about it. We’ll give you some pointers and tips that’ll lead you to happiness.
So how do you achieve it? There are different ways to go about it. We’ll give you some pointers and tips that’ll lead you to happiness.
First of all, there's no such thing as a perfect balance. So, relax. Strive for a realistic, tailormade schedule. Don’t wake up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym and then meditate before heading off to work with your meal-prepped lunch in hand, hitting it out of the park at the office, to then go home early, cook dinner, do some chores, go for drinks with friends and go to bed on time somehow, just ‘cause some full-time Instagram influencer told you to.
If this is you, great. If not, find your own balance.
Some days, you might have to focus on work more. Other days you might need to spend more time with loved ones and pursue your hobbies. Balance is achieved over time, not each day.
Like our hero, Bruce Lee said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water”. Constantly evaluate and adapt to where you are versus your goals and priorities. There’ll be days you'll need to be with your loved ones. There’ll be other days that’ll you need to travel for work. Allow yourself to remain open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day. It’s key to finding a balance.
Take breaks. And stop feeling guilty about them. We weren’t designed to stare at bright screens for hours on end. It’s bad for our physical and our mental wellbeing. Studies show that we can focus for 20 minutes at a time. The longer you’re trying to work without focus, the more frustrated you tend to get. Go for a walk, go to your company’s games room if it has one or do some light exercise. You can even go out as a team and grab a coffee. Some leading companies will hire meditation practitioners to help calm and de-stress their people. Do anything that takes you away from the task you were performing.
All of these techniques will positively impact your work performance, productivity, and happiness.
I’ll be frank. I’m done with working set hours. I want to work whenever and wherever it suits me best. And so do millions of workers across the world. <By 2020 half of us will be working remotely.Instead of working classic 9 to 5 days, you should start working when it suits you best. It’ll boost your work-life balance. If you’re more productive during the morning, you should be able to work then. Or maybe you need to pick up your children from school and work to an office closer to them. That idea shouldn't be far-fetched. The freedom to work whenever you want and to be judged solely on your output will absolutely improve your work-life balance.
Not all managers are eager to allow their employees to work wherever they want. But the trend is inevitable. And it benefits them too. Studies have shown that the more autonomy you’ll get, the happier, healthier and more productive you’ll be. Plus, your partner, friends, and children won’t have to miss you as much as they did before. And you’ll get rid of the FOMO - the Fear Of Missing Out. A win-win for everybody involved.
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To reach work-life balance, divide your time into different areas. Identify what constitutes of family and friend time, me-time, work etc...and determine where you work and where you relax. That means that if you're watching your daughter’s football game, you shouldn’t check your emails on your phone. Or that you don’t open your laptop in the living room if you have people over. In other words, make disconnecting easier on yourself. That is if you WANT to cut the cord in certain situations.
You might find not answering phones and emails to be tough, and end up worried about your bosses’ reaction because you can’t help him or her find a certain file. But toughen up and persevere. If it's urgent, they’ll call you back. And if you’re really having a hard time, implement a transition period where you grant yourself 15 minutes in a certain situation to answer your emails and calls. But only if you absolutely have to. After a few weeks, you’ll probably discover that it’s not necessary.
Your job is important. But it shouldn’t be your entire life. The secret to work-life balance is the ability to make time for yourself. Now that you’ve compartmentalized your activities, you can prioritize them. Decide what you truly want to spend most of your time on. So, you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that made you happy.
Go for a walk in the park, treat yourself to a massage or take a hot bath. No matter what you do, it’s essential for your work-life balance to set aside an hour every two days to do something strictly for yourself.
Additionally, surround yourself with loved ones. Don’t isolate yourself. Have your alone time, but don’t neglect your personal relationships because you’re busy. Don't take your loved ones for granted. Make them a priority.
You’ve prioritized what’s important in your life. Consequently, you know what activities you can do without. You might recognize them as the activities that take more time to fulfill than they should. Or those that are physically and mentally draining.
You should cut those activities immediately. Your work-life balance will only improve. You’ll free up time for what really matters. And you’ll save energy to do those things with more intensity and focus.
If those activities involve friends with whom you tend to do energy draining activities, drop the activities, not the friends. Professionally, don’t cling on to maintenance activities you could easily delegate. Delegate or hire someone else to take care of it.
We’ve talked about prioritizing. Your absolute priority should be your health. Take good care of yourself. Physically and mentally. If you’ve already been struggling with anxiety or depression, you should consider therapy. Therapy might give you the tools to detect a looming burnout before it strikes. Try and fit those therapy sessions in your schedule, even if you have to leave work early or skip yoga class.
If you’re already suffering from an ailment, don’t be afraid to call in sick. You shouldn’t be too proud and try to work through it. It’s just not worth it. You’ll end up making your burnout worse, causing a longer absence than you would’ve if you would've sought help or rested immediately.
Reboot. Take a break from work. It’ll allow you to mentally and physically recover from the everyday workplace stresses. This is essential to your focus, productivity, and work-life balance.
A break from work allows us to mentally and physically recover from the everyday workplace stresses. This is vital as it will increase the individual’s focus and productivity when you return. It will also help to reduce your psychological distress. This is evidenced by a workplace happiness report by The American Sociological Association.
Unplug. Our smartphone is our gateway to the world. And we sometimes feel we couldn't do without. How else would we meet the love of our life? Or pass time on the toilet? Or know that Sarah from 3rd grade wants to “live, laugh, love” more?
We would miss it. But you should unplug. Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time will help you refresh from the weekly stress. Stop the barrage of articles, memes, and video clips, and give you and your mind space for other thoughts and ideas.
If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. A cliché, but it’s true. If you manage to cut all the unpleasantness from your job, you’ll thoroughly enjoy it and be happier.
Not everyone is lucky enough to cut the clutter or to have a job they like. The secret to overcoming that is just to try and love your job as a whole. If you succeed, you won’t dread getting out of bed every single morning. And you won’t feel like every minute at the office is a minute wasted. If you're not able to, ask yourself is it woth it to cling on to the job.
Sometimes it isn’t the job that’s the problem, but one of the coworkers or management. Maybe you're tired of one of your colleagues taking little bites of your homemade lunch. I'm on to you, Philip!
Anyway, if the atmosphere proves to be too toxic, it’s time to find a new job.
If you can’t love what you do and you can’t do what you love outside of your job, it’s time to quit. There’s no point in messing up your work-life balance for a job you hate. That’s a recipe for stress, depression, and burnouts.
Ask your boss for midday workouts. Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that exercise is an asset to not only your work but to work-life balance as a whole.
Saint Leo University assistant professor of Management Russell Clayton found a correlation between physical activity and navigating the intersection of work and home. If you exercise regularly, you’re less likely to feel a conflict between your working life and your home life.
When you exercise, you release some of your pent-up stress. And the less stress you feel, the more enjoyable you’ll find your office or your kitchen.
You'll also boost your self-efficacy, the confidence you have that you can get things done. Folks with high self-efficacy are more likely to face the various tasks to be met in the day as challenges to be mastered. As one of Clayton’s interview subjects told him, “an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym.”
There you have it: 11 tips to attain and maintain a solid work-life balance. In the end it’s all up to you. Maybe you feel like buckling down for months on end. Or maybe you feel like spending all of your time with friends and family. No matter what you do, determine what’s important to you and make sure you enjoy what matters the most. No matter what your priorities are, you should consider remote working Not only could you work closer to home, you could also meet inspiring people or work with creative startups. Come and try for yourself.
Or discover how remote working is beneficial to your work-life balance.