Work-life balance: While you may not feel you have it, you likely know what it should look like in your life.
Having a better balance between work life and home life can mean different things to different people. For one person, it might mean not having to work overtime consistently. For another, it’s a shorter commute or having more time for leisure pursuits.
How Can You Improve Your Work-Life Balance?
What Does Balance Mean to You?
The first step toward better work-life balance is to identify what it means to you.
For instance, if you suddenly had the extra time you crave, what would you do with it? Go for a bike ride? Fold the laundry? Tackle a craft project? Visit with friends? Take a trip?
There is no wrong answer, only your answer that will help determine areas of your life you can work to improve.
Why is Work-Life Balance Important?
When we’re unhappy with our lives, we tend to feel stressed. Experiencing high stress over a prolonged period of time can negatively affect our health, causing everything from neck and muscle pain to higher rates of alcohol consumption to work burnout. According to Gallup’s Women in America report, “people who work three to four hours of overtime have a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems compared to those who don’t work overtime.”
On the other hand, a better balance between home and work responsibilities is good for our health and our families. It’s good for us as employees, too, making us generally more focused and productive.
So how can you start working today toward a better work-life balance? Here are five suggestions:
1. Let Go of Perfectionism
Some of us are our own worst critics. We’re never satisfied because what we’ve done never seems good enough. Stop holding yourself to unrealistic expectations. Not everything has to be perfect. Realize that some things are “as good as you can make them.”
When it comes to improving your work-life balance, the same advice applies to your job.
“Don’t strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one,” says career expert Chris Chancey in Business News Daily. Some days will be better than others. “Balance is achieved over time, not each day.”
2. Take a Break
No one can remain highly focused indefinitely. Regular breaks, even as brief as 30 seconds, help our minds reset and improve our concentration, notes BetterUp.
While you’re taking a break, eat your lunch. If you work full-time you have a right to a lunch break. Eating helps you rebuild the energy you need to get through the rest of the day. During your lunch break, consider adding layering in another activity that will help reduce your stress levels. Socialize with co-workers. Meditate. Take a walk. Read. You’ll come back to your desk refreshed and ready to go.
3. Schedule Your Vacation
A U.S. Travel Association study found that 52% of American employees had unused vacation days left over at the end of the year. Yet, they noted, “paid vacation (45%) is the second-most important benefit to employees after health care (53%).”
“Establishing a plan for your PTO, no matter how often you do it, can be the difference between using the valuable benefit you’ve been given and wasting it. Also, adding those days to your calendar and requesting them off in advance is a commitment,” notes The Palmer Group. “You will be more likely to hold to and make the most of that time.”
And even a stay-cation gives you time away from work to recharge.
4. Set Work Boundaries
Today’s technology enables us to be instantly available all the time. It also provides easy access to things like work emails and phone messages we used to leave behind at the office. In some cases, workers themselves have blurred the lines between work and personal life, thinking they look like an underperformer if they don’t immediately answer an evening email.
In reality, many of us should be able to leave work at work. Schedule time to talk with your supervisor about expectations regarding your after-hours availability.
5. Prioritize Your Health
The Wall Street Journal cited the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2020 Better Life Index, which found that “the U.S. ranks 30th out of 40 countries in terms of time devoted to leisure and personal care.”
Overwork and burnout can leave us with less energy and ambition to devote to healthy habits like eating better, exercising and getting enough rest.
You might find it helpful to schedule some “me time” into your daily calendar. Find time – even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes – to meditate, practice breathing exercises or yoga, take a walk or follow a fitness video.
It’s OK to Start Small
Change is hard, but it can start with a single small step. Even little adjustments can lead to an improved life balance and outlook.
If you’re ready to see whether a new job can get you closer to the work-life balance you need, contact the recruitment experts at Pro Resources Staffing Services.