Work-Life Balance: 8 Ways to Take Control
May 24, 2016
Once upon a time, in the distant past, maintaining a healthy work-life balance was simple and came naturally. We went to work, and once we left, we were free to do what we pleased until the next time we entered our workplace.
However, with the dramatic advancements of technology over the past few decades and the demanding nature of today’s job market, its getting more difficult to find time for ourselves that isn’t intruded upon by some other obligation. In fact, a 2015 study found that 1 out of every 3 workers (33.3%) say that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is getting tougher.
8 Work-Life Balance Tips:
Depending on your line of work and the responsibilities involved, your leisure time can suffer from constant interruptions and the need to be in contact with your employer at all times. New communication technologies, although beneficial in a myriad of ways, are one of the leading causes of becoming disconnected. Being easier to contact is not always a good thing and can mean unnecessary stress during the times that we’re supposed to unwind and forget about our day-to-day responsibilities.
Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your down time remains just that. Make an effort to stay away from your smartphone and social media, but don’t just drop off of the face of the Earth. Let your employer or anyone else that regularly contacts you outside of work hours that you’re not going to be as available as you have been in the past.
2. Get Proper Exercise
Establishing a proper exercise routine can go a long way to relieving the stress we feel from our day-to-day responsibilities, while also helping us build healthier habits and an overall better life. It may not seem like a high priority at the moment and you may think that there’s just not enough time in the day. If you’ve ever stopped to think about it for even just a few minutes, you’ve realized that this is just an excuse.
Exercise releases endorphins that literally make you feel good throughout your body, and set you in the right mood for the rest of your day. A good way to do this is to make it the “bridge” activity of the day. Schedule your workout before or after your shift, to “bridge” the gap between your downtime and work-life, or vice versa.
3. Prioritize the Things That Matter Most
Many of us have so many things on our plate at the same time that its almost sickening. Obviously, there’s a finite number of hours, minutes, and seconds in the day for us to accomplish our goals, so we have to prioritize the things that matter and work our way down. Take time to really think about what matters most to you, and put more of your time and effort into those. Its as easy as that.
People are very different. While many want to put more time into family and building relationships with friends, others may be content with putting more time into solo activities. Regardless, although it may take some time, decipher what you want out of this period in your life and work to achieve those goals.
4. Start Small
Everyone’s been on a diet or exercise kick that we ran into full-force and told ourselves that this is our new “thing” and we’ll keep up it, just to inevitably give it up soon after. Instead of trying to make dramatic life-changes quickly, make a series of small changes and get used to them being a constant in your life. This is the only way to solidly build habits that stick with us for life.
Just like someone who’s trying to cut back on their coffee intake, start be decreasing the amount of time you spend on whatever it is that you want to replace, and spend that time on your new habit or activity instead. No one can expect to just give up their coffee after they’ve been drinking a cup every morning for years. They’ll feel terrible and will eventually break down and any progress they achieved will be undone.
5. Make Time for You
Whether its at work, in public, or at home, we’re hardly ever truly alone anymore. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is about recalibrating yourself, your habits, and the stress you feel. Even if you’re a social butterfly, make time for yourself to be alone with your thoughts. Read a book, play a game, meditate, do yoga, or whichever other activities you find interesting to fill the time.
You can use the time to reflect on your life, where you’re going, the next steps in your life, or absolutely nothing at all. The choice is yours. All you need is to be by yourself.
6. Avoid Multitasking
Sometimes life can hand us more than our fair share of issues simultaneously and many end up juggling many different things at one time. This is the wrong approach to building a healthy work-life balance though. If you take the time to approach each activity (even if that activity is doing nothing at all), you’ll ultimately see better results.
Take this lesson from a Parks & Recreation’s Ron Swanson:
7. Ask for Help
It may be time to suck up your pride and realize that you can’t handle as much as you’ve taken on. This is understandable since you’re just one person with a limited amount of time and energy to get the things you need done, done. If your employer, family, or friends are coming on strong, putting more and more on you and asking you to constantly go out of your way for them, let them know what’s going on.
Asking for help from those around you can go a long way to building a healthy work-life balance. Why? By explaining your situation and what you’re dealing with on a daily basis will likely make them think twice of going to you for something they can ask someone else for, or simply do themselves. If your employer or friend refuse to understand and continue, or even escalate, its probably time to find others.
8. Learn How to Say No
Learning how to say no ties into asking for help when it comes to work-life balance, in that sometimes people will not understand or just won’t care about your situation. In this case, you have to learn to say no, even to your employer. They purchase your time for the hours during the day that you’re scheduled to work, no more and no less. Don’t feel overly obligated to fulfill duties that you’re not really responsible for unless they’re offering to pay you to do it.
Friends may want favors and family members may want you to help with something, but don’t hesitate to say no when it interferes with your own health. Cultivating a proper work-life balance is overall about cultivating a healthy lifestyle.
To summarize, respect your own time and others will too!
Do you have a method we didn’t list for building a healthy work-life balance? Let us know about it in the comments below!