Work often takes precedence over everything else in our lives. Our desire for professional success can lead us to put our own well-being aside. However, creating a harmonious work-life balance or work-life integration is critical to improving not only our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, but is also important for our careers.
What is work-life balance and why is it important?
In summary, work-life balance is the state of equilibrium in which a person equally prioritizes the demands of his career and the demands of his personal life. Some of the common reasons that lead to poor work-life balance include:
- Greater responsibilities at work.
- working more hours
- Increased responsibilities at home
- Have children
A good work-life balance, said Chris Chancey, career expert and executive director ofBroad Recruitment, has numerous positive effects, including less stress, lower risk ofexhaustionand a greater sense of well-being. This not only benefits employees, but employers as well.
“Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save costs, experience less absenteeism and enjoy longer lives.loyal and productive workforceChancey said. Employers who offer options such astelecommutingoflexible working hourscan help employees achieve a better work-life balance.
As you create a schedule that works for you, think about the best way to achieve work-life balance. Chancey said that work-life balance is less about splitting the hours of the day evenly between work and personal life, and instead, it's more about having the flexibility to do things in your work life, while still having the time and energy. to enjoy your personal life. 🇧🇷 life. There may be some days where you work longer hours to have time at the end of the week to enjoy other activities.
Here are eight ways to create a better work-life balance, as well as being a supportive manager.
1. Accept that there is no such thing as a "perfect" work-life balance.
When you hear "work-life balance," you probably envision having an extremely productive day at work and leaving early to spend the other half of the day with friends and family. While this may seem ideal, it's not always possible.
Don't strive for the perfect schedule; fight for a realist. Some days you might be more focused on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue hobbies or spend time with loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not every day.
"It's important to stay fluid and constantly evaluate where you are [against] your goals and priorities," said Heather Monahan, founder of the career guidance group,#BossinHeels🇧🇷 “Sometimes 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 given day is the key to finding balance.”
2. Find a job you enjoy.
While work is an expected social norm, your career should not be restrictive. If you hate what you do, you won't be happy, plain and simple. You don't have to love every aspect of your job, but it should be exciting enough that you're not afraid to get out of bed every morning.
Monahan recommended finding a job you're so passionate about that you'd do it for free. “If your job is draining you and you find it hard to do the things you love outside of work, then something is wrong,” Monahan said. “You could be working in a toxic environment, for a toxic person, or doing a job you don't really love. If that's the case, it's time to find a new job."
3. Prioritize your health.
Your overall physical, emotional and mental health should be your main concern. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you, build these sessions into your schedule, even if you have to leave work early or ditch your nightly spin class. If you arebattling a chronic illnessDon't be afraid to call in sick on bad days. Being overworked prevents you from improving, possibly causing you to take more days off in the future.
“Putting your health first will make you a better employee and person,” said Monahan. "You'll miss work less, and when you're there, you'll be happier and more productive."
Prioritizing your health doesn't have to consist of extreme or extreme activities. It can be as simple as meditation or daily exercise.
4. Don't be afraid to disconnect.
Cutting ties with the outside world once in a while allows us to recover from the weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Going offline can mean something simple like practicing traffic meditation on your daily commute instead of checking work emails.
Monahan said that when she used to travel with her boss for work, she would look over and find him reading a novel while she was doing something work related.
“At the time, I didn't understand that he was taking a break and decompressing while I was pushing myself to possible burnout,” Monahan said.
Now, Monahan practices the same tactics. Taking time to relax, he reiterated, is critical to success and will help you feel more energized when you're at work.
5. Take a vacation.
Sometimes truly disconnecting means taking a vacation and completely disconnecting from work for a while. Whether your vacation consists of a one-day stay or a two-week trip to Bali, it's important to take time off to recharge physically and mentally.
AccordingState of American Holidays 2018In a US Travel Association study, 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days at the end of the year. Employees are often concerned that taking time off will interrupt the flow of work and they will be faced with a backlog of work when they return. That fear shouldn't stop you from taking a much-needed break.
“The truth is that there is no nobility in not taking a deserved break from work; the benefits of taking a day off far outweigh the disadvantages,” said Chancey. “With proper planning, you can take time off without worrying about overburdening your colleagues or facing a heavy workload when you get back.”
6. Make time for yourself and your loved ones.
While your work is important, it shouldn't be your whole life. You were an individual before you took this position and should prioritize activities or hobbies that make you happy. Chancey said achieving work-life balance requires deliberate action.
“If you don't plan your personal time firmly, you'll never have time to do other things outside of work,” Chancey said. “No matter how hectic your schedule is, ultimately, you are in control of your time and your life.”
When planning time with your loved ones, create a calendar for romantic and family dates. It may seem strange to plan alone time with someone you live with, but it will ensure that you spend quality time with that person without work-life conflicts. Just because work keeps you busy doesn't mean you should neglect personal relationships.
“Remember that no one in your company is going to love or appreciate you like their loved ones do,” Monahan said. "Also [remember] everyone is replaceable at work, and no matter how important you think your job is, the company won't lose anything tomorrow if you're not around."
7. Set limits and hours of work.
Set boundaries for yourself and your colleagues to avoid burnout. When leaving the office, avoid thinking about future projects oranswering company emails🇧🇷 Consider having a separate computer or phone for work so you can turn it off when you're done. If this is not possible, use separate browsers, emails or filters for your work and personal platforms.
Additionally, Chancey recommended setting specific work hours. “Whether you work outside the home or at home, it's important to determine when you go to work and when you stop working; otherwise, you could be answering work-related emails late at night, on vacation, or on weekends off,” Chancey said.
Chancey advised notifying team members and your manager of boundaries beyond which you cannot be accessible because you are involved in personal activities. This will help ensure that they understand and respect your workplace boundaries and expectations.
8. Set goals and priorities (and stick to them).
Set achievable goals by implementing time management strategies, analyzing your to-do list, and eliminating tasks that have little or no value.
Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and reserve that free time for more important work activities. Avoid checking your email and phone every few minutes as these are important tasks that waste time and detract from your focus and productivity. Structuring your day can increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work.
The rise of the flexible workplace
Those who manage to balance their work often point to their flexible work schedules. Recent surveys have found that over the past seven years, many employers have allowed workers greater flexibility with their hours and where they work.
"It's clear that employers continue to struggle with fewer resources for benefits that incur a direct cost," said Ken Matos, principal investigator and senior director of employment research and practice at the nonprofit research organization.Family and Work Institute🇧🇷 “However, they prioritized giving employees access to a broader range of benefits that address individual and family needs and improve their health and well-being.”
Flexibility can pay off for employers in the long run. "Looking to the future, it's clear that to stay competitive, employers must find ways to offer flexible work options if they are to attract and retain the best talent," said Hank Jackson, president and CEO ofHuman Resources Management Society.
“Work-life balance will mean different things to different people because, after all, we all have different commitments in life,” Chancey said. "In our always-on world, balance is a very personal thing and only you can decide the lifestyle that's best for you."
How to be a supportive manager
To help managers do a better job of supporting their employees' efforts to achieve a healthier work-life balance,Robert Half Management Resourcesoffers four tips
- Know what your employees are looking for.Not everyone has the same work-life balance goals. Talk to each employee about their goals, then figure out what you can do to help them. Some employees may benefit from working remotely a few days a week, while others may prefer to modify their daily work schedule. It's important to be open-minded and flexible.
- Set a good example.Your employees follow suit. If you email all hours of the day and night or work hard on the weekends, your team also feels that this is what is expected of them.
- Let employees know what their options are.While employers generally do a good job of highlighting their work-life balance offerings to potential candidates, the same cannot be said for communicating these initiatives to current employees. Regularly discuss with your employees the options available to them. Also, sit down with prospective parents and discuss parental leave options.
- Stay ahead.It's important to stay ahead of emerging work-life balance trends. What works for employees today may not be a good fit a year from now. Keep your work-life balance initiatives up-to-date and offer on-demand benefits. Also, consider offering work-life programs.
Skye Schooley contributed reporting and writing for this article. Some source interviews were conducted for an earlier version of this article.