Balancing your life at work with your life outside of work is extremely important to your physical and psychological well being. Even if you love your job, taking time away from work is important for promoting creativity and problem-solving and preventing burnout. But finding a work-life balance can be hard, especially with how technology has made constant, 24-hour connection so easy. To help you find your work life balance we have researched (and tried out) some tips and tricks that will be sure to have you feeling less stressed and ready to take on your life – in and out of the office!
When setting goals, you should always start small. Starting small will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task at hand. A good way to do this is to separate big tasks into smaller tasks – check these tasks off as you complete them to increase your sense of accomplishment and inspire you to do more, rather than break down and do less.
To-do lists are also helpful to keeping you on track, so you don’t forget the little things on your way to accomplish the bigger goals. However, if you do this, make sure you check in with the big picture every once in a while to make sure you are on track. This goes for goals at work as well as personal goals – you do not want to be doing things in your life that are not helping you with what you want to be doing in the future. Remember, small things become big things over time.
A lot of people think that being busy is the same as working hard, but it is not. To be more efficient, you should cut down on multitasking, minimize time spent on low-impact, busy work tasks, and prioritize the truly important people in your life. There are lots of ways to do this, but the first step is identifying your priorities and the high-priority people in your life. From there, you can make deliberate choices about the people, tasks, and activities with whom or on which you want to spend your time.
Little things you can also do to increase efficiency are setting specific times to check your email or Slack (so you are not constantly checking your email or Slack when you do not need to be), using music to help with productivity, or downloading software that limits inefficient online browsing. Efficiency doesn’t just apply to your work life, but affects your life outside of work, too. Make sure you continue to set aside time for family, friends, and your interests so you do not burn out and still have time to continue being your whole self, not just your work self.
Studies show that after 90 minutes you have a hard time focusing and retaining information, which means you should never be working on a task for longer than an hour or so without a break. Breaks help you to take your mind off of whatever task is at hand, so that when you return you are more focused, more productive, and more creative.
A few good ways to spend your break are walking, talking with coworkers or friends, or listening to music. Whether it’s outside, around your office, or just to the bathroom, walks get your blood moving, making you more energized and focused. Interacting and talking with coworkers and friends improve your mood and make you happier. Listening to music helps to make you more productive and is a tool that can be used to increase productivity even while working. Breaks are an important and necessary way to help you improve your work-life balance and general mental and emotional well-being in and out of the office. That being said, going to the opposite extreme of taking breaks every thirty minutes can actually become detrimental to productivity – it is all about balance!
Unplugging should happen at work and at home. At work, you should not be checking your phone for personal texts, emails, or social media updates because those are just distractions from the task at hand. At home, you should not be checking work emails or taking work calls. Studies show that phone notifications only interrupt your time, fragmenting it and increasing inefficiency, along with making you stressed. Focusing on the task at hand without checking your phone makes you more productive and happier in the long run. It also makes you more resilient: focused on living for your needs and by your terms, rather than reactionary: constantly responding to other people’s needs.
Communicating is the basis of all healthy relationships, at work and at home. Telling people what you need when you need it is not selfish, it is how you get things done. An important part of communication is telling people what is working and what is not. Going with the flow might sound like the easiest thing to do, but in the long run it is the hardest. When you tell people things are not working, it helps everyone involved to find a solution sooner rather than later. Learn to say no and delegate activities to other people to maximize your time and efficiency. In the end, you do not have to be perfect and neither does anyone else. Communication is an important part of recognizing that.
You should try to develop a strong support network inside work and outside of it. This network can be made up of coworkers, friends, family, and most of all people who want to see you succeed and who will support you on your journey to do so. An important part of getting support is laying the groundwork. If you help other people, they are more likely to help you when you need it – whether it is on a presentation at work or pet sitting while you are away. A good way to find a support network is by volunteering with a local charity, joining classes at your gym, or joining a like-minded group of individuals (i.e. a ceramics club, women’s networking association, etc.).
This is one of the most overlooked parts of work life balance. Most people think that balancing your work and your life has only to do with time management and efficiency, but it is also taking care of yourself physically – your health is a huge part of you. Make sure you eat well: feeding your body and consuming the right foods like healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins – all foods that will help you stay energized for longer. Exercise regularly to reduce stress and raise energy levels, along with keeping yourself physically fit. Meditate and practice healthy sleep patterns to help yourself to concentrate and overall be more balanced and mindful.
While finding a healthy work life balance definitely takes time and patience, it is worth it. Practicing these seven steps will end up keeping you be happier and healthier in the long run. By separating your life at work from your life outside of work (that does not mean you cannot see work friends outside of work – that is equally important!), the quality of what you do will exponentially increase, helping you to feel more fulfilled rather than stressed and burnt out over time.
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