A Helpful Guide to Having a Great Work-Life Balance
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 5, 2022 | Published August 17, 2021
Updated November 5, 2022
Published August 17, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Work-life balance is harmony between your job and private life. It is a priority for many professionals, as it can support feelings of happiness and motivation inside and outside the workplace. If you're feeling overworked, you may want to try certain techniques to reduce stress, manage your tasks well, and gain more free time. In this article, we discuss what work and life balance is, how it can benefit you, and how you can achieve it in five steps.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is the idea of sharing your time and energy fairly between work and non-work activities. A healthy balance between work and life allows people to both fulfil their professional responsibilities and focus on their personal lives. It gives them the freedom to spend time with family and friends, pursue hobbies, and simply relax outside of work.
People have different ideal work-life situations depending on their preferences and interests. However, many people want to feel productive and successful at work while also having enough spare time to enjoy. Fostering equity between your job and your personal life can reduce stress, support your mental and physical health, and help you preserve relationships. It can also aid you in maintaining motivation at work to complete your duties and achieve your long-term career goals.
The benefits of balancing work and life
A proper work-life share encourages happiness and contentment. Here are some benefits of a good work life and personal life balance:
Mental and physical well-being: as many jobs involve pressure, taking breaks from work may help reduce stress levels and stress-related symptoms. Activities like talking with friends, exercising, and relaxing can enable people to maintain energy and optimism.
Personal growth: having spare time allows people to complete self-care activities and pursue hobbies, such as reading, painting, cooking, playing an instrument, or playing a sport. These can help people build skills, gain knowledge, and cultivate relationships.
Productivity: getting adequate rest and relief from the demands of a job ensures you can continue to do that job long term and with a positive attitude. A good balance of working and personal time helps people approach their work tasks with confidence and enthusiasm.
Job satisfaction: employees who prioritize their health and happiness typically have high rates of job satisfaction. They appreciate employers who provide excellent pay and benefits, flexible schedules, time off for sickness or holidays, and support for their well-being.
Related: The Benefits of Working From Home
How to achieve a healthy work-life balance
If you're feeling burned out or stressed, you may benefit from changing the way you approach your job and personal life. With the right planning, attention, and dedication, it can be possible for many people to achieve work-life equity. Everyone has different professional and personal responsibilities, but you can choose strategies that are right for you. Here are five steps for how to improve your work-life balance:
1. Set a goal
Setting goals is good practice for projects in both professional and personal environments. A goal is a point to work toward, and it can inspire you to complete tasks. It can also help structure your efforts so that you're more likely to succeed. To create a goal for better work-life conditions, think about the improvements you wish to make. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish and visualize what your life could look like if you achieved your goal. Then, consider writing your goal using the SMART method:
Specific: be sure your goal is distinct and understandable. For example, you might create a goal of reading a non-work-related book for at least two hours each week.
Measurable: making a goal measurable typically involves including a number that tracks your success. In this example, your metrics are the hours you read the book and the number of times you read per week.
Attainable: make sure the goal is realistic according to your time constraints and abilities. You might want to set an easy goal first to practise the process.
Relevant: it's important the goal relates to a broader mission of yours. In this example, your broader mission may be to learn about a new topic, join a book club, or even just spend more time relaxing.
Time-based: consider assigning a realistic deadline for your goal to motivate yourself to achieve it. Focus on one goal at a time, and you can escalate the challenge level as you progress.
2. Put away your work when you're off the clock
It's important to maintain a separation between your work tasks and your time outside your job. If you can in your position, try powering down your work devices, turning off your notifications and avoiding checking your emails at the end of your shifts. These methods can help you put your full focus on non-work pursuits.
To support these efforts, consider setting boundaries with your coworkers or clients. Tell them in a clear, polite way that you are unavailable for communication during certain hours of the day unless it's an emergency. You can even arrange a plan for who else they can contact if an emergency arises. Limiting work calls, emails, or texts after hours can reduce interruptions in your spare time. If you have a position that requires you to be alert to notifications at all times, there are other ways you can balance your work and life.
3. Use your time effectively at work
A good way to maintain healthy equity between work and life is to ensure you're managing your time well at work. Being productive, getting all your assignments done, and fulfilling all your professional obligations can help you relax after your shift, both mentally and physically. Here are some time management strategies that may help you in your role:
Maintain a routine: consider developing and keeping to a routine at work, an order of tasks you complete every day, to organize your time effectively. You can also prioritize your tasks to get the most important, time-sensitive ones done first.
Take regular breaks: as part of your routine, taking breaks at the same times each day can help you structure your schedule, energize your mind and body, and return to your work tasks with confidence and concentration. In addition, eating meals at the same time every day can support your circadian rhythm and help you focus.
Make action plans: a helpful method for time management at work is creating an action plan at the start of your shift, detailing everything you need to get done. Ensure your action plan is simple and realistic so it can guide you throughout your day.
Reduce distractions: if possible, try to reduce distractions in your workplace so you can direct all your efforts to your work. This may involve working in a clean, quiet space or turning off your phone during work.
Hold yourself accountable: you may struggle with procrastination, especially if you lack supervisory oversight and set your own hours. You can overcome this is by holding yourself accountable by setting timers for completing tasks or working alongside others.
Set milestones for large tasks: to make large, long-term projects more manageable, consider breaking them up into milestones to complete throughout the week or month. This way, you can focus on and complete one step at a time.
Related: How to Prioritize Work Tasks
4. Communicate with your employer
If you're having difficulty getting all your work done each day, this may be a sign that you have an unmanageable workload. Consider meeting with your employer to bring this up with them. Explain to them in a polite, honest, and concise manner that you're having a hard time keeping up with your tasks. Emphasize that you want to make sure you're giving each task the effort and time it deserves. If you ask them for help, they can work with you to create a solution.
Your supervisor is responsible for ensuring their employees can complete work tasks and contribute to the company. Great supervisors also care about supporting your mental and physical well-being. If you're struggling to foster a good relationship between work and life, communicating with them may help you make necessary changes. If you find your employer doesn't prioritize a balance of work and personal time, you might describe the benefits it can offer to team members and the entire company, such as increased productivity.
5. Practice stress management techniques
You may experience anxiety from work, but there are strategies you can try to decrease stress and ensure your personal life is peaceful and restful. Here are some stress management techniques to encourage better work-life harmony:
Regular exercise is a common stress-reliever that can help take your mind off work and improve your sleep. It can take several forms, such as walking or playing sports.
Spending time outside in the sun can help you gain Vitamin D, which can support your mental and physical health. Consider finding a park near you where you can walk or have picnics.
Hobbies can be opportunities to de-stress, channel emotions, and learn unique skills. Find an activity you like to do, such as baking, doing puzzles, or hiking, and make time for it in your life.
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