In a society dedicated to career development, finding enjoyment both in and outside the office can be tricky.
The “balance” in the commonly used phrase “work-life balance” is the key to enjoying work and life. When work overwhelms us, our personal lives struggle, and vice versa. Taking care of yourself builds a fully rounded lifestyle while adding to the energy and passion necessary for loving the work you do each day.
Finding a work-life balance is not a sign of weakness or a lack of career passion—quite the opposite. Work-life balance is a way to respect the equilibrium necessary for maintaining health and enthusiasm on both sides of your world.
Here are 10 tips for work-life balance:
Tip #1: Build hard deadlines for the start and end of your day
Whether you freelance or work with strict punch-in/punch-out hours, the brain can remain at work unintentionally. Setting guidelines, both for yourself and your management whenever possible, allow these two worlds from impeding on one another.
In the morning, after your commute or personal prep time, choose a ritual to mark the start of the day. Make a new cup of coffee or write yourself a positive affirmation for your desk.
At the end of the day, do the same. Clean up your desk area or write a things-to-do list for the next morning.
Whatever it is, keep it consistent. This will signal the brain to switch gears from work to home.
Tip #2: Communicate honestly with your boss
Each person and position requires a unique work-life balance. During the interview process, be honest with yourself and your boss. In some positions, this work-life separation is more common than in others.
Be clear from the get-go what type of balance is right for you, and keep communication open throughout your time working together. Fewer surprises create less anxiety.
Tip #3: Take time for yourself to find quiet
Even in the busiest of jobs such as teaching or food service, it’s crucial to find some quiet. Even several minutes of space can clear the mind and re-settle the breath.
Tuck into the bathroom or take a break outside.
The world of an office or workplace can feel small and daunting, but finding this separation reminds us that there is a balance present at all times.
Tip #4: Choose a non-paying hobby
It’s in our nature to monetize our skills. But it is also beneficial to the mind to find passions that have no financial expectation. This unlinks money-making and creative enjoyment for a small portion of the day, utilizing a different part of the brain. Creative or physical activities will feed the work-related brain naturally as time goes on.
Tip #5: Seek financial stability
Clearly, many, if not all people strive for financial stability. But finding this balance takes more than having a stable income. Seek out resources that positively support and educate you on ways to budget, spend wisely and save for future goals. This gives each day new purpose, setting your sights on the long term. Try to think of financial education and a life-long ongoing habit.
Tip #6: Create honest connections with those at work
Though we may naturally connect more deeply with those outside of work, connecting with compassion and care is rewarding for yourself and those around you. Everyone in your workplace is also trying to find work-life balance, and you can be a part of that.
While remaining professional, always communicate work needs with kindness and patience. These little moments create a whole new culture around you that does not go unnoticed.
Tip #7: Nurture relationships outside of work
On the other side of things, creating work-life balance also involves setting aside quality time with our loved ones at home and in our circle of friends. When we turn off the work day and find separation, we are more open to both our own and our loved one’s personal needs. We remain more present in the moment if we allow work to wait until the next day.
If this isn’t possible on some days, remain open about how much time at home you need to devote to work. Set boundaries and discuss them with your loved ones. This way, everyone moves as a team between the two worlds.
Tip #8: Create a balanced workspace
The images and words that we take in at each moment in the day strongly affect our overall wellbeing. Place small objects or pictures that spark joy throughout your workspace as reminders of individual passions and goals. Remember that lighting and layout change the mood of a space, especially in the winter months. Overall, be mindful of how your area changes your body and mood.
Tip #9: Build a long-term plan
The opportunity for upward mobility is very important in all careers. Without judgment or reservations, map out a dream plan for the next several decades, with a willingness to change and remain flexible as life ebbs and flows. Not reaching a goal does not equal failure, it was simply a means of putting yourself on a path toward the best destination.
Tip #10: Continue to grow and change—both inside and out
Even if we’ve mastered our job skills and feel satisfied with our level of work, lifelong learning sparks passion and growth. The more we explore new information, the more doors and ideas cross our path. Education doesn’t have to link with our careers either, though they all feed into the way we approach work.
Finding work-life balance is never an easy task, and can often feel out of our control. At the end of the day, we have to do the job. But if we step back and look at the wide picture, the small daily variations add up to meaningful change.
Open communication, setting boundaries, and nurturing our creative sides are just a few ways to remain present when switching between our work and home identities. Most importantly, these changes help us connect more closely with ourselves and those we love.
Be clear about your needs and opportunities for personal growth, and progress at work will follow.