“Can you work a double shift?”
“How do you feel about going up to 60 hours a week?”
“How about working over the weekend to finish your project?”
We’ve all heard these “requests” throughout our careers. And they are tricky questions to answer because:
- If you say “yes”, you compromise yourself by not getting a much needed break.
- If you say “no”, you compromise your job by not being a team player.
There is a constant internal struggle to be a hard worker, team player, and successful person. Yet, spending more time at the office may lead to high levels of stress, long-term health problems, and poor relationships with your family and friends.
Follow these 7 work-life balance tips to help you get your life back on track…
1. Inventory your priorities.
“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” —H. L. Hunt
Start by figuring out what is really important to you. Make an actual priority list of goals if you need to. Write it down. Are you really going to rank work above family? If you are tempted to place work above the reasons you need to make money, you probably have a pretty poor work-life balance right now. Remind yourself why you are working, and then tackle the list again.
2. Figure out if there are areas where you are wasting time.
Though there are certain things about time you cannot negotiate (like the time you are required to clock at the office), most of us do things during the day that we do not really need to be doing. Do you really need to spend two hours at the gym; do you really want to scan five channels for five hours when you get home? Are you wasting time with people or activities which have nothing to do with your list of priorities? If so, free up that time!
A few simple work life balance tips on wasting time? Get rid of interruptions, schedule no-excuse deadlines, and stop procrastinating! Start work in the morning by trying the Pomodoro technique. Break up your work into 25 minute intervals, each separated by a 5 minute break.
Taking these breaks will actually improve memory and recall. Eventually, you may absorbed in the task you are working on and lose track of time. This is what’s called the flow and is the ultimate goal for productivity!
3. Realize you do not have to climb the ladder.
If climbing the ladder in your profession is something that is really important to you, something you are passionate about, something that makes you tick, then by all means do it! But realize it is not for everyone.
We are all culturally conditioned to think that we are failures if we are not aiming to be the top dog, but that is simply not true. All members of an organization are important contributors.
Believe it or not, career experts and HR managers are seeing this more and more; there are tons of people out there today who aren’t obsessed with ‘climbing the corporate ladder’. Promotions come with additional responsibility that people don’t want to spend additional time or effort on. They may not even be comfortable with the role.
It used to be unheard of to turn down a promotion even at the cost of moving an entire family across country. But as more and more people are in search of work-life balance tips, perceptions are changing!
Regardless of what anyone thinks, your life does not have to be about work. If you have another passion outside of work, and you feel like you need to pursue that—maybe at the expense of a promotion, maybe at the cost of your co-workers occasional disdain—do it. You will be much happier, and more successful at what you really are meant to thrive at!
4. Every day, schedule time to do something “unimportant.”
This is essential, because this is what allows us to recharge. Do something that does not help you get ahead in any way, but which you simply enjoy. According to psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, who studied willpower, decision-making depletes willpower.
Baumeister discovered that taking breaks from making decisions and following through improves your overall performance. So this is actually a great work-life balance tip for improving your overall efficiency. Plus, it will help you to relax. Remember, work to live, don’t live to work!
5. Take care of your body.
A bad work-life balance not only can damage our relationships and our psychological health and happiness, but our physical health as well. When you are trying to “make time,” you might be tempted to do so by foregoing sleep, or taking short-cuts in the kitchen so you can eat more quickly and get on to the next item on your to-do list. While five hours of sleep and fast food may work out in the short term, over the long term they will wreak havoc on your body.
At that point, you have launched yourself into a vicious cycle. When you neglect your body, you are fatigued and you lose the cognitive power to focus on your work and other activities. You then end up losing even more time through inefficiency, and then you skip more sleep and continue eating poorly. You just descend further and further. So take care of your body. Look for other ways to free up time. Sacrificing your health is never worth it.
6. Keep your private time private.
Unless you work a salaried job where you have to be available outside of your work hours, leave your work phone and email off during your off hours. Keep your private time to yourself. Share it with your family and friends and the people you really want in your life.
You do not constantly need to talk to your bosses or co-workers. Nor do you have to be willing to reschedule your private time at the drop of a hat, or at all. Treat it like vacation time you are spending at home. Your life belongs to you, not to your boss or your company. You do not owe your off-work hours to anyone but yourself.
Work-life balance tips are being implemented by employers as well. As the perceptions of work-life balance are changing as I mentioned earlier, more and more employers are tending to cater to their employees’ need for a balanced schedule. Check out the best companies for a work-life balance; I wouldn’t be surprised if this list gets much larger over the next few years!
7. Learn how to say “no.”
Saying “no” is perhaps one of the single most powerful work-balance tips to give. While there are some obligations you have to meet, there are many you can decline with your honor intact. Learn how to say “no” to these obligations.
You do not have to put in endless hours of overtime because your boss will be “sad” if you don’t. You do not have to strive to become the CEO just because your family or co-workers expect you to. You do not have to make other peoples’ goals your own.
You get to decide what your goals are; you get to decide what brings meaning, value, and joy into your life. You should take as much pride in saying “no” as you do in saying “yes.” The boundaries you set are the outlines which define you as an individual.
If you take implement all of these work-life balance tips into your daily life and you still find that you do not have a healthy balance, and you are still unhappy, it may be time to once again pull out your priority list. Not all of us are in the right line of work.
Would you be happier with another job with shorter hours or fewer out-of-office commitments? It is scary having to consider a major life change, and hopefully you don’t have to. If you do, though, don’t shy away from it; it may just change your entire life for the better!
Enforcing your newly implemented work-life balance tips is well worth it to live a happy, healthy, balanced life!