In the past, there was a clear limit between home and work time. Today, however, many people are struggling to separate work and their personal lives. Managing work-life balance, especially during the pandemic, can be difficult for people who work longer hours.
With technology facilitating connection round the clock, working from home is fast becoming the norm which often breaches personal and professional limits. Even then, you can still achieve a healthy work-life balance. Read on to understand the following:
- Importance of work-life balance
- What causes work-life imbalance
- The impact of poor work-life balance
- How to develop a better work-life balance
Understanding Work-life Balance and why it is Critical
Work-life balance is the approach where you prioritize the demands of your personal life and those of your career equally. According to experts, an excellent work-life balance comes with numerous positive benefits for employers, employees, and businesses. They include reduced risk of burnout, less stress, and an improved feel of well-being.
Employees who enjoy flexible work schedules or telecommuting services have a better work-life balance. When developing your ideal program, incorporate strategies to accomplish the perfect balance between formal and remote work.
Experts opine that work-life balance does not only revolve around dividing your hours uniformly between personal life and work. It involves getting the flexibility you need to execute tasks in your professional life and still have enough time to manage your personal life.
What Causes Work-life Imbalance?
When your personal life and work-life do not marry according to interests, values, and regulations, there will be an imbalance. Often, poor work-life balance occurs when either your professional life or personal life demands more energy and time as seen below.
· Increased Tasks at Work
If your responsibilities at work increase, you may have to remain in the office for longer or sometimes carry work home. Many people focus more on work than their personal lives when they have a new project or after a pay rise or promotion. Often, such people feel unproductive after engaging in unprofessional tasks due to the lack of monetary reward and recognition.
· Increased Tasks at Home
You may have a demanding home life based on your family status, physical and mental health, and responsibilities away from work. Often, people who have numerous commitments in their home life struggle to complete eight-hour workdays successfully.
· Denying Your Work-life Imbalance State
Some people hardly recognize the importance of work-life balance. Possibly they are delighted with their jobs, or perhaps envision their work as a sole mechanism of clearing bills. When this happens, you’ll find that what you care less about requires some modification, assessment, and attention. Today, many people prioritize work over other aspects of their lives, with studies suggesting that the professional workweek for millions of American residents is 60 hours.
What is the Impact of Poor Work-life Balance?
Where there is no harmony between your professional and personal lives, negative consequences are likely to arise. Here is how work-life imbalance impacts your life.
· Personal Time Loss
The battle between spending extra hours with family or at work can be time-consuming. Spending time with your loved ones and at work is crucial, but you also need some time alone. If you struggle to balance personal life and work, getting time to be alone and rejuvenate becomes extremely hard.
People who struggle with work-life imbalance often try to accommodate numerous personal and work activities within the least time possible. Such an attempt leaves them nursing burnout, and they lose interest in doing anything else.
Knowing that you are battling work-life imbalance can be frustrating, and it will significantly impact your mood. A simple comment on the amount of time you spend at work from family members can easily irritate you.
· Lateness and Absenteeism
Sometimes, you will miss some personal and work events. However, if you are struggling with work-life imbalance, you will be frequently absent or late. If your personal or work life needs more attention and time, you will have to make some compromises. Often, people struggling with work-life imbalance are physically present but mentally wishing to be in two places at the same time.
Stress is one of the most significant outcomes of work-life imbalance. Numerous physical and mental health problems are associated with excess stress. For example, stressed people might experience a weak immune system, cardiovascular-related complications, and overly stiff muscles. They may also battle insecurity, poor coping techniques, and poor concentration skills.
How to Strike a Better Work-life Balance
While striking a balance between your personal and professional life can be difficult, it is crucial and doable. Here are tips to help you enhance your work-life balance.
· Acknowledge that a Perfect Work-life Balance Does not Exist
Some people opine that work-life balance involves having a productive workday and going home to spend the rest of the day with family. However, this is not possible. Strive for a realistic schedule instead of a perfect one.
Remember, some days are busier than others. Today you may have more responsibilities at work, but tomorrow, you could have enough time to focus on your personal life. You will achieve balance over time and not per day.
According to Heather Monahan, “It is important to remain fluid and constantly assess where you are [versus] your goals and priorities. At times, your children may need you, and other times, you may need to travel for work, but allowing yourself to remain open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day is key in finding balance.”
· Prioritize and Manage Your Time
If you have 40 tasks on your to-do list, consider prioritizing them based on the following categories:
- Urgent and important
- Urgent but not important
- Important but not urgent
- Neither important nor urgent
While you should allow yourself enough time to complete your tasks, avoid overscheduling. Leverage computer programs to develop a timeline for your activities. You can also personalize your word table or Excel spreadsheet.
Break each role into small components and incorporate family engagements like birthday parties, anniversaries, and holidays. By so doing, you will have something to remind you of your unavailability for work during those days.
Request your employer for a compact workweek, flexible hours, or job sharing. Having more control over your hours means you will be less stressed. If you spend a big part of your time working, your personal and home life will suffer adverse effects.
If you are a working parent and cannot afford child care or daycare services, consider bringing your kids to work whenever possible. You can have them marvel at their creative drawings and photos on your desk. Such a gesture not only gives them a sense of inclusion in your work but also lets them know you value them.
To achieve good work-life balance, you should possess excellent time management skills. Prolonging your workday means that you will be consuming precious personal and family time.
· Take Time to Create Time
Consider investing in time tracking tools. You can leverage different tools that allow you to track various activities like:
- The duration and frequency of meetings
- Pursuing and converting leads
- Collect data
- Generate reports
With the ideal time tracking software, you can track the amount of time you spent on specific tasks. You will then be able to assess how long the next job will take.
· Get a Job that you are Passionate About
Doing what you are passionate about means, you can complete your tasks in less time. Remember, your career should not hold you back. If you dislike what you do, you will not be happy. You do not have to enjoy every bit of your job. However, it should be encouraging enough to have you wake up every morning with ease.
Heather Monahan, a confidence coach, says: “If your job is draining you, and you are finding it difficult to do the things you love outside of work, something is wrong. You may be working in a toxic environment, for a toxic person, or doing a job that you truly don’t love. If this is the case, it is time to find a new job.”
· Prioritize Your Health
Focusing on your overall emotional, physical, and mental health is critical. If you experience depression or anxiety and feel that therapy will be beneficial, include those sessions in your program.
Sometimes you may have to scrap your evening classes or leave work early. If you are struggling with a chronic disease or are having a rough day consider calling in sick. When you overwork yourself, you reduce your chances of feeling better, and may have to be off work for longer.
Prioritizing your health makes you a better person and employee. You will be happier at work, more productive, and less absent. Prioritizing your health does not have to involve extreme measures. Daily exercise and meditation can go a long way.
Cut ties from the outside world once in a while. Doing so enables you to recover from piled-up stress and gives you space to create new ideas. Instead of searching LinkedIn or reading work emails, consider engaging in one of your hobbies. While technology has eased how we do things, it has also developed anticipation for nonstop accessibility, with workdays becoming never-ending.
The Co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life, and Havard Medical School professor of psychology, Robert Brooks, says: “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment.”
According to Robert, phone notifications distract your off time and introduce stress into your system. Avoid work-related activities when hanging out with your loved ones. When you restrain yourself from responding to work-related updates, you develop robust resilience.
Robert continues: “Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.”
· Go on Vacation
Sometimes, proper unplugging involves getting vacation time and blocking every work-related activity for some time. Whether you take a short-term or long-term international trip, focusing on your self-care helps you recharge both physically and mentally.
Studies suggest that more than 50% of workers reported having surplus days remaining when the year ended. Many of them were afraid that taking time off would interrupt workflow, forcing them to struggle with work backlog upon return. Do not let such fears stop you from taking some time off to rest.
According to Chris Chancey, a career expert: “The truth is, there is no nobility in not taking well-deserved time away from work; the benefits of taking a day off far outweigh the downsides. With proper planning, you can take time away without worrying about burdening your colleagues or contending with a huge workload when you return.”
· Create Time for Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Your job is critical, but it should not define your whole life. It would be best if you also prioritized your hobbies or activities that you are passionate about. Experts opine that to accomplish work-life balance; you need intentional measures.
Failure to include personal time in your schedule denies you time to engage in other activities away from work. Regardless of how busy your program seems the control of your life and time lies in your hands.
As you plan time with loved ones, include family and romantic dates. Planning face-to-face time with your partner allows you to spend quality time together away from work-life friction. Even when your work keeps you occupied, neglecting personal relationships should not be an option.
Heather Monahan, the career expert, says: “Realize that no one at your company is going to love you or appreciate you the way your loved ones do. Also [remember] that everyone is replaceable at work, and no matter how important you think your job is, the company will not miss a beat tomorrow if you are gone.”
· Set Limits and Work Hours
Have limits for yourself and your entire team to avoid working long hours. Once you leave the office, avoid responding to work-related emails or analyzing upcoming projects.
Have separate devices (computer and phone) for work and home. In this case, you can shut your work devices off after clocking out. If such is not achievable, consider using separate emails, browsers, or filters for your personal and work platforms.
Experts recommend scheduling specific work hours, whether you work from home or at the office. Determining when your work should begin and end is critical. You want to avoid a situation where you respond to work emails at night during the weekend or while on vacation.
Communicate your boundaries with your manager and team members and let them know when you will be inaccessible due to personal matters. Doing so allows your team to respect your expectations and limits.
· Stick to Your Priorities and Goals
One of the most effective ways of sticking to your priorities and goals is by applying time management strategies. Assess your to-do list and eliminate less valuable tasks. Determine your most productive part of the day and schedule that time for your crucial work-related tasks.
Stay away from your phone as you work because it tempts you to engage in time-wasting activities that distract your attention and hinder productivity. Plan your day to increase productivity at work and get some free time to engage in your hobbies.
- Achieving a work-life balance comes with numerous benefits for both businesses and workers. Apart from increasing productivity, employees will be happier, and the company will become famous for treating employees well.
- Setting your limits and having a robust work schedule helps you manage your work time.
- Having priorities and scheduling work hours is what you need to complete your tasks in less time without compromising your out-of-work activities.
Having exceptional time management skills is a crucial part of attaining work-life balance. Visit our website and learn everything you need to know about time management.