In today’s current job market, many people are feeling the push to give their workplace everything they can. This can result in too much time spent on the job and even thinking about work when at home. Many people are lacking a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives.
The solution to the unhealthy balance is to work instead on making what is called a “work life balance.” Basically, it means feeling that you have the healthy balance that works best for you. This way you have both a productive professional life and a happy personal life outside of your working hours.
This approach is helpful whether you are at the start of your career and working hard to establish yourself. In the middle of the career and feeling as though you need to shift your priorities. At the end of your career and looking to bring better balance to your life. However, work life balance is not necessarily taught in school or talked about on the job. Often, people need to learn this on their own.
If you want to improve your work life balance, you can try these four techniques:
Watch for Warning Signs
One of first steps towards work life balance is to start to pay attention to the current gaps and how it affects you. Knowing the general warning signs and your personal warning signs will be helpful. That way you can make the decision to really work on work life balance or give it more attention in the future.
Some common warning signs of work-life imbalance include: feeling fatigued, being less interested in work, having little time with friends/family, and lacking energy to do activities outside of work. In the worst-case scenarios, a work life imbalance can lead to burn-out. When this occurs, you may start feeling really exhausted, cognitively fatigued, and easily irritated. It may even start to affect your ability do your work and you might find yourself making errors or being unable to finish your projects.
Identify Your Key Needs
The next step towards improving your work life balance is to identify your personal needs in both your professional and personal lives. You may know some of your needs right off the top of your head, but others (especially those not being fulfilled) may take a bit of personal study and reflection.
In your work life, this may mean paying attention to your optimal workflow and the times of the day when you are at your peak. In your personal life, it may mean paying attention to how much sleep you need to feel rested. Also, how you ideally want to spend your weekends, and what you need to do to feel good. As you gather all this information, you can start using it to identify areas you will improve.
Set Your Personal and Professional Goals
Chances are you already have some professional goals already in place. Some of those goals may even be set by the nature of your work, your specific position or role, and your supervisor’s demands. However, it is helpful to also identify your own goals that you intend to help you with your development as a professional. Specifically, you want to identify some that will help you with your work life balance.
Use the information you learned during your needs assessment to help you with the goal setting. For example, perhaps you identified that after lunch you like to have some down-time where you step away from major projects. Perhaps you also identified that you need more free time in the afternoon to follow up on emails from the morning. Your professional goal might be to carve out some time in the afternoon where you can catch up on tasks and respond to emails. Then you can finish the day well.
Turning your attention to your personal life, perhaps you identified one of your needs as regular time with your extended family. Logically, your goal should be to allocate more time to seeing extended family. If they are located nearby, perhaps you want to make your goal a weekly or biweekly dinner. If they are located further away, then you could set a goal for regular phone calls and visits at the holidays.
Schedule in Self-Care
If you have not yet heard of self-care, research shows it is important for wellness. Just like you might take care of others in your life, you also need to take care of yourself. There are some basics in self-care that you are likely already attending to if you are generally functioning in the world. These sorts of things include: bathing, eating regular meals, drinking water, and sleeping. However, if you are working too much, you may start short-changing yourself in these areas and you may need to schedule them in.
Beyond being sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and drinking enough water, you may also want and need to include other activities in your daily life, to best promote work-life balance. This can include things like physical exercise and relaxation practices. Of course, you have probably heard about the benefits that exercise can offer for your physical health. It is important to know that it can also benefit your mental health. Making time for it is a part of work life balance.
Relaxation practices can be a little more complex as you may not have previously learned this approach to wellness. It can include small things like taking a long bath or reading a book. Things like meditation, deep breathing, and guided visualization are included. All these approaches are well supported by scientific research as being helpful for wellness. Each can help you really use your personal time to replenish. It is a very important component for achieving optimal work life balance.
Like many things in life, work life balance can be easier said than done. Above, four steps can guide you in the right direction. However, it can be hard to break old habits and implement new ways of living. Many people choose to seek professional help in making these changes. Working with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counsellor can be helpful. These experts can assist you in bringing better balance to your life. They can also teach you relaxation techniques that will be helpful.
Professional support is often required to help face mental health challenges such as anxiety disorder. If you feel that you need help, organizations such as Counselling in Melbourne can offer services to assist your recovery.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit my disclaimer page for more information.