Work-life balance has gained more attention in the last few years as an important piece of a healthy work environment. Maintaining a balance between work responsibilities and personal life helps manage stress levels and prevent burnout in the workplace.
Work and home-life balance will look different for everyone and is not always easy to figure out. Although it can be challenging to change, there are ways to improve work-life balance.
Meeting Deadlines While Still Having Time to Socialize and Enjoy Life For some, a healthy work-life balance may look like meeting deadlines while also having time to socialize with friends and family after work. For others, it may mean engaging in hobbies and interests while also focusing on professional responsibilities.
Work-life balance is constantly evolving. What works for you at one point in life may need to be adjusted at another. To successfully maintain this balance, you should engage in the following five-step cycle regularly.
Step One: Pause and Ask Yourself First, pause and de-normalize. Ask yourself what currently is causing you stress, unbalance, or dissatisfaction. You must acknowledge these issues before you can change them.
Step Two: Pay Attention to Your Feelings Next, pay attention to your emotions. How does this make you feel? Are you energized, fulfilled, or satisfied? Or are you feeling angry, resentful, or sad?
Step Three: Reprioritize Then, reprioritize your goals, purposes, and plans. Increasing your awareness of the situation and taking stock of your feelings gives you the tools to determine your priorities and if they need to change. Think about what you are willing to sacrifice and for how long. You have the power to align your time allocation with your list of priorities.
Step Four: Consider Your Alternatives Now consider your alternatives. Before jumping into solutions, reflect on the aspects of your work and life that could be changed or improved. Are there components of your job you would like to see change? How much time would you like to spend with family or on hobbies?
Step Five: Make Changes Finally, it is time to implement changes at work. For example, you may choose to make a “public” change, such as taking on a new role or changing your designated schedule. On the other hand, you may make a “private” change, in which you informally change your work patterns without necessarily attempting to change your colleagues’ expectations.
There are some common signs that your work-life balance needs a reset.
You Stop Taking Care of Your Body You might notice that you’re staying up too late, having trouble staying asleep, no longer exercising, or not eating at all.
Your Mental Health Is Going Downhill You are experiencing more symptoms of anxiety or depression. Perhaps you’re more irritable or impatient. You may even experience dread, restlessness, hopelessness, panic attacks, or mood swings.
You Just Don’t Care Anymore Work no longer feels meaningful, you aren’t connecting with your colleagues or clients anymore, or you simply don’t care.
So, why is work-life balance important? The following includes various examples of why work-life balance is an essential part of well-being.
Improves Relationships Achieving a work-life balance will enhance your ability to be present and improve your relationships. In the workplace and at home, having the mental space to be fully present can forge deeper connections.
Improves Creative Thinking A balanced lifestyle will also increase your engagement and creative thinking at work. When you aren’t struggling with feelings of dissatisfaction, you are free to explore and use creative problem-solving. This can lead to much higher levels of professional success.
Accepting that there is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance is essential. You may have a picture in your head of a perfect schedule, but remember to be realistic and logical when planning a balance. Some days you might need to focus more on work, and other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones.
Make Small Personal Changes Perhaps you want to focus on improving your health. Small changes like cooking more meals at home, prioritizing sleep, or adding physical activity to each day can have a significant impact.
Map Out and Regularly Review Goals The last thing that can help is to set a clear list of goals and priorities and regularly check in to make sure you are spending your time in a way that aligns with your list.