Work-life balance has become one of the most common phrases when discussing employee well-being. Work-life balance is best defined as a state of equilibrium achieved when a person prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. Finding a sustainable level of work-life balance is an ongoing process which takes effort, time, and discipline.
At work, employees who have an undesirable work-life balance often experience burnout, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of productivity. Additionally, these individuals tend to have lower quality relationships in both their personal and professional lives.
The Current State of Work-Life Balance
It seems we are going through a transitory period that will ultimately determine how employees balance their personal and professional responsibilities. Each new generation increasingly emphasizes employee well-being, and Millennials and Gen Z are not exceptions. According to data from Deloitte, 39% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Z chose to work at their current organization because of a healthy work-life balance.
The Coronavirus pandemic introduced new methods of work, and more recently the “Great Resignation” increased employees’ bargaining power. These factors have given the global workforce more opportunities to improve work conditions and therefore their work-life balance.
How Can I Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance?
As you enter the workforce or change your career path, it is essential you create intentional processes for yourself to prioritize your overall well-being. Here are 7 tips to help you improve your work-life balance.
- Establish A Morning Routine
Daily routines increase consistency in our lives and contribute to a superior state of wellbeing. While building your morning routine, it is important to perform the same tasks in a similar order every day. Instead of implementing radical changes, focus on gradual yet consistent transformation. This will increase the likelihood that these habits will become ingrained in your daily life. Waking up earlier in the day can allow you more time to focus on self-care. Some habits that will help your overall wellbeing include organizing your living space, making your bed, eating a nutritious breakfast, allowing natural sunlight into the home, exercising, and making daily to-do lists.
- Turn Off Technology
In a world that is always becoming more connected through technology, the average American spends more than 5 hours a day on their phone. This can have negative effects on your productivity as well as your mental health. While using your phone at home, work-related notifications can blur the line between work and leisure time. To develop a healthier work-life balance, put your phone down while at home. Spend time in nature or focusing on a hobby. While using your phone during leisure time, employ features that silence notifications or stop them altogether. This should help strengthen the connection between being at home and having lower stress levels during your time off.
- Focus On Your Hobbies
As mentioned above, using your free time to focus on hobbies that bring you peace of mind is one of the best ways to separate your work and personal lives. Research shows that people with hobbies have reduced levels of stress, improved mood, and lower levels of depression and anxiety. Hobbies that involve other people can even improve your communication skills. Instead of trying to allocate time for your hobby every single day, use sporadic times throughout your week to pursue your interests. This should help keep your work week interesting and improve your flexibility with scheduling. Some hobbies that are the best for mental health include sports, playing or listening to music, reading, painting, gardening, and fishing. But practicing anything that you are passionate about will bring the benefits mentioned above.
- Practice Saying No
No one likes saying no. But when you’re feeling overwhelmed in life, setting boundaries can help free up some of your precious energy. This can be applied at work as well as in your personal life. If you need to get things done around your house, tell your friends that you need to take a rain check on plans. If you’re swamped at work and receive an additional assignment, ask your manager for help prioritizing tasks because you’ll be unable to get it all done. If you’re worried about being perceived as rude, try saying thank you before you say no. For example, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t make it tonight.”
- Schedule Your Free Time
Leisure time has been shown to improve the mental and physical health of employees as well as reducing the amount of stress they face. To get the most out of your time off, it might be helpful to plan out how you would like to spend it. This doesn’t mean that you must plan everything to the minute, but you should have some general structure for your time out of the office. Make sure you assign some time for doing things you enjoy while also scheduling items that have been stuck on your personal to-do list. Most importantly, don’t forget to block of some of your valuable time for rest.
- Go Into the Office
The recent pandemic introduced a wide number of changes into the way the average American works. The biggest development was the introduction of hybrid and remote work arrangements. These options are convenient for employees, and you might think they would contribute to a higher level of overall employee wellbeing. However, according to an online survey done by the American Psychological Association, a majority of workers have reported experiencing negative mental health ramifications since the start of the pandemic. These effects include feeling lonely or isolated and a distorted work-life balance. To help reinforce the distinction between your professional and personal life, consider going back into the office. The office environment also can help restore connections between coworkers and increase your productivity.
- Change Your Workday Lunch Habits
There are three rules that will allow you to use your lunch break more effectively. First, you should never eat at your desk! Eating away from your desk will help your mind separate your responsibilities and leisure time. Second, you should never eat alone. Eating with other people will give you a chance to get to know your coworkers on a personal level and helps increase your feelings of connection within your organization. Third, don’t accept work phone calls during lunch. Silencing work-related notifications during your lunch break will provide you with mental clarity and increase productivity after your lunch break.
Even though these tips are aimed at helping you achieve a healthy equilibrium between your professional and personal lives, you must accept the fact that there is no perfect work-life balance. There will be times when problems at work will put a strain on your personal life, and vice versa. Establishing a work-life balance is an ongoing process and takes large amounts of time and effort. Make small changes to gradually improve the balance, but if things still aren’t getting better, your poor work-life balance might be a result of your career path or organization. If you suspect this to be the case, it might be time to reconsider your professional priorities. The bottom line is that work-life balance is crucial to your well-being, so making whatever changes are necessary and possible will benefit you in both the short-term and the long run.