How to Improve your Work-Life Balance
Did you know that 66 percent of Americans report struggling with their work-life balance ? Does this sound familiar to you?
Maintaining a sense of balance between work, family responsibilities, hobbies, and everything else you have going on in your life can certainly be challenging. And with many of us working remotely now, the lines between work and home are continually blurred. Striking a balance between the two, while tough, is not impossible, though.
If you need help improving your work-life balance, keep reading. Listed below are 12 tips that can help.
1. Throw Away Perfectionism
Perfectionism is on the rise throughout the country, especially among millennials .
Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? Do you have a very specific image of how your work-life balance should look? If so, it’s time to work to change that image.
There’s no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to the way you manage everything you have to get done in a day. When you try to live up to some imagined ideal, especially if it’s based on the way your favorite celebrity or influencer manages their life, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Accept that there are going to be times when you spend more time on work and less time at home. Accept that the opposite will also be true; there are times when you need to make your family more of a priority than your job, and that’s okay, too.
2. Assess Your Career
If you find yourself constantly struggling to balance work and personal life, you may need to take a step back and assess your career.
Are you generally happy with it and just going through a stressful period, or do you dread showing up for work every single day?
If the latter is true, it might be time to start looking into a different job. Maybe you need to look for a new position at your same company, or maybe you need to make a complete career change.
3. Know Yourself
Spend some time reflecting on yourself, your habits, and your preferences, too. Are you a morning person? Do you work better at night? Do you like to work alone, or do you need to be surrounded by others?
If your job doesn’t fulfill these needs and preferences, are there steps you can take to change that? Can you talk to your boss about a schedule change, for example? Can you look into working from home part-time rather than driving to the office every day?
4. Put Your Health First
If your physical health and mental health are not up to par, you’re going to have a hard time maintaining a sense of balance in your work and home life. If you’re looking to improve your work-life balance, you need to make sure you’re prioritizing health in all forms.
Prioritizing health looks different for everyone, of course, but some examples include:
- Going to the doctor and dentist for regular check-ups
- Taking your medications as prescribed (if applicable)
- Calling in sick when you’re not feeling well
- Talking to a therapist if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Drinking water and prioritizing hydration
5. Set Boundaries Around Technology
The average professional checks their email every 37 minutes .
Does this sound familiar to you? Are you constantly checking your email, even when you’re off the clock? If so, that’s probably contributing to your poor work-life balance.
For more balance in your life, do your best to set boundaries around technology, especially when it comes to checking emails and work-related text messages.
Give yourself a hard cut-off time for checking in and communicating with your colleagues or clients. You may need to create an auto-responder message to let other people know about these boundaries. Consider deleting your email apps from your phone, too, if possible.
6. Set Boundaries Around Work Hours
In addition to setting boundaries around technology, it’s important to set boundaries around your work hours, too.
Do you bring your laptop home from the office and work right up until you go to bed? Do you check in over the weekend when you’re supposed to be spending time with your family or relaxing?
If you’re constantly on the clock and never taking breaks, you’re going to end up joining the 45 percent of workers in the U.S. who feel burned out .
Set boundaries in the opposite direction, too. If your family or personal life is getting in the way of your work life because your kids are always barging into your home office, that’s also going to throw things off.
Make arrangements so that your kids are cared for while you’re working, and let family and friends know when you are and aren’t available to talk on the phone to get together for lunch.
7. Use a Planner
A planner can be a lifesaver when it comes to balancing work and personal life. Whether you use a digital calendar or a paper planner, taking the time to write down everything you need to do in a day makes it easier to get a grip on your schedule and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
A planner also makes it easier for you to establish boundaries. When you see your schedule laid out in front of you, you may find that you can set clear start and stop times for work. You’ll also be able to schedule some time for other things, like dinner with your family or a workout class for yourself.
8. Prioritize Your To-Do List
When you make a to-do list for the day or week, make sure you’re also taking time to prioritize that to-do list. Identify which tasks absolutely must get done that day or week. Then, identify the tasks that would be great to get done but can wait if they have to.
Prioritizing your to-do list helps you avoid feeling pressure to do everything, all the time. It gives you freedom, flexibility, and permission to do less on days when you’re feeling overwhelmed or have a lot going on in other areas of your life.
9. Set Realistic Goals
When it comes to your to-do lists, be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re setting realistic goals for yourself, too.
Are you biting off more than you can chew? Are you trying to show off how competent you are while actually shooting yourself in the foot and setting yourself up for burnout?
If you think that your goals are not realistic, take a step back and consider ways that you can adjust them to make them more reasonable. Ask yourself what truly needs to get done and what can wait or be handed off to someone else.
10. Outsource When Possible
Speaking of handing things off to someone else, remember that there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing. You don’t have to do everything by yourself.
Do you have an assistant or employee who could pick up some slack for you at work? Do you have the means to hire a nanny or babysitter to take care of your kids while you’re working from home?
Asking for help and investing in outsourcing allows you to buy back some of your time and can help you to be more productive and improve the quality of your work.
Remember, outsourcing also creates opportunities for others. At work, outsourcing gives someone else a chance to improve their skills or demonstrate their capabilities. In your personal life, outsourcing can create a job or volunteer opportunity for someone else.
11. Ask for Accountability
Perhaps you know that you need to improve your work-life balance. However, you might also have a hard time sticking to the boundaries you set. Maybe you promised that you’d stop checking email after 5 pm, but you catch yourself gravitating toward the email app again and again.
If this is the case, you may need to seek outer accountability. For example, you could tell your partner that you don’t want to check email after a certain time and ask them to call you out (kindly) if you do.
12. Communicate Your Needs
Finally, make sure you’re communicating your needs. If you’re struggling with your work-life balance but don’t let anyone know, it’s going to be much harder for them to accommodate you and respect your boundaries.
When you’re clear on what you need and what kinds of boundaries are going to make your work-life balance better, schedule time to talk to the people in your life who need to know about these boundaries. Talk to your boss about the struggles you’re facing at work, and talk to your partner about struggles you’re facing at home.
Be polite and respectful when you’re communicating, but also be clear and direct about what you need. As Brene Brown says, “clear is kind” . It might feel awkward at first, but it’ll make life easier for everyone in the long run.
Create More Work-Life Balance Today
It’s not easy to balance your work and your regular life. Keep these tips listed above in mind, though, and you’ll have a much easier time juggling everything you have to do in a day.
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