Today’s always-connected digital workplace can make it hard to feel like you’re ever truly off the clock. If you work from home, the line between work and your personal life can be even blurrier.
But fully disengaging from work after hours is essential to your wellbeing. You need time to recharge to feel your best, live life to the fullest, and do your best work. These suggestions can help.
What exactly is work-life balance?
It’s difficult to understate the importance of work-life balance. Without this harmony between your professional and personal life, you may feel overly stressed, anxious, even burned out.
Studies show that cultivating work-life balance can improve your overall health and happiness. Doing so can also help you feel more engaged, creative, and productive when you are at work.
Other benefits include:
- Feeling more relaxed and present during evenings, weekends, and vacations.
- Spending more time with loved ones and being more present in those relationships.
- Having more time and energy for hobbies, travel, and other personal pursuits.
Top 10 work-life balance tips to implement now
Work-life balance isn’t something you magically achieve overnight. You have to strive towards it over time. If you’re accustomed to always being plugged into your job or business, you initially may find it difficult to disengage from work and be fully present in your personal life.
Fortunately there are many steps you can take to start improving your work-life balance. Here are 10 suggestions:
- Stick to a daily schedule. Limiting your work to the same time block each day makes it easier to disconnect after hours. If you’re working from home, rituals like morning coffee and evening dog walks also can help you further delineate between your work and home life.
- Stay logged out after hours. Avoid adding work apps to your phone unless you absolutely must. Let clients know your business hours so they don’t try to reach you outside of them. Log off all work accounts at the end the workday and don’t check messages until the next one.
- Make time for concentration-heavy tasks. Do the parts of your job that require the heaviest lifting when you have the most energy. If needed, use the “busy or “do not disturb” settings of your team’s chat and video conferencing tools so that you don’t get pulled into non-essential meetings and requests during these hours.
- Remind yourself that done is better than perfect. That’s not to say you should get sloppy with your work, but if you find yourself endlessly refining your projects before checking them off your list, ask yourself why. Are you really making them better with all that extra fine-tuning?
- Practice setting boundaries at work. You don’t have to agree to pitch in every time a colleague needs a hand. Get into the habit of saying “no” when your plate’s too full so you reserve some time and energy for your life outside of work.
- Schedule personal plans as you would work meetings. Make that dinner with your mom or bike ride with your kids nonnegotiable calendar entries. Hold yourself accountable to quality time with the people and activities you love most and then follow through.
- Focus on your health. You’ve heard it said 1,000 times before, but prioritizing exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, relaxation, and other forms of self-care can greatly improve your mood and energy levels at work. All of this helps you deal with daily stressors and excel at your job.
- Use your paid time off. Seriously. Your company offers some form of personal, holiday, and vacation days for a reason. Use them when you’re not feeling 100 percent rather than pushing through. And if it’s been a year since you’ve taken a vacation, schedule one now.
- Forget trying to do everything yourself. Pay for help at home when you can. If hiring a dog walker or subscribing to a meal-delivery service gives you the time you need to go for a run, get enough sleep, or attend that evening drawing class that feeds your soul, do it.
- Embrace imperfection, and flex as needed. No matter how well you plan, you might have to work late or juggle family time with a deadline every so often. Don’t get discouraged. Work-life balance is a long game. If one of your strategies isn’t working well, adjust it until it is.
How to encourage your team to balance work and life
Having a more balanced workforce isn’t just good corporate citizenship. It also can reduce your costs. The more satisfied, engaged with work, and healthier your employees are, the more loyal and productive they’ll be. All of this helps reduce absenteeism and turnover.
To build a happier workforce, you need to do your part to support your staff in their quest for balance. These work-life balance tips for employees are a great place to start:
- Bake work-life balance into your team culture. Let your people flex their hours, work remotely, and take breaks during the workday to attend to personal matters as needed. When a new hire comes aboard, let them know what perks your team offers in the name of work-life balance management.
- Encourage employees to prioritize themselves and their families. Do they need to leave early to pick up their kids from day care? Would a few days of remote work a month ease their long commute? Find out what’s important to each of your employees and work with them to help reach these goals.
- Model a balanced work-life for your team. Many workers take their cues from team leaders about their hours, flexibility arrangements, and paid time off. You can offer all the remote work privileges and vacation time in the world, but unless your people see you prioritizing your own personal life, they’ll be hesitant to do so themselves.
What work-life balance looks like when done right
How will you know when you’re doing a better job of balancing your work and personal life? You’ll feel like you’re thriving instead of just surviving. You’ll still do the best job you can at work, but you’ll have an easier time stepping away at the end of each day.
In other words, you’ll stop putting your professional life ahead of everything else. You’ll have more energy after hours and you’ll experience more joy outside of work. And rather than exhausted and miserable, you’ll start each work week refreshed and ready.