Work life balance…is it truly possible? Or is it just some unattainable pipe dream that is well beyond the reach of most mortals?
As unreachable as it may seem, it is actually possible to achieve optimum work life balance. It will require hard work, perseverance, and discipline to be sure. You will also need the assistance and understanding of people around you, including your family, your coworkers, and your employer. But anyone can achieve proper work-life balance provided they are willing to put in the effort and possibly take some drastic steps.
Here are 15 tips on how you can establish a healthier balance between work and your personal life.
1. Learn to delegate tasks
Realize the value of delegating tasks. Instead of taking on every responsibility yourself, it would be beneficial to pass on tasks that you aren’t good at, don’t have the time for, or just flat out know that you cannot do. Delegating could be as simple as asking help from a coworker, hiring a plumber, or outsourcing tasks that someone else could get done faster and more efficiently.
2. Use your personal/sick/vacation days
Most people have been conditioned not to use up all their sick or vacation days. A study conducted by U.S. Travel revealed that more than half of workers in the United States (55%) do not make use of all their paid time off.
Furthermore, those that do use up their vacation days spend just a portion of them on travel. In 2018, U.S. workers failed to use 768 million days of PTO–a 9% increase from the previous year.
3. Create a daily and weekly to-do list
Setting aside time to organize and structure daily priorities is essential for work-life balance. Doing so will help keep you on track and give you a continuing sense of accomplishment. You should also plan out your activities for the week to ensure that you are hitting your targets and accomplishing your goals.
4. Wrap up work at the same time every day
At some point during the day, you need to be able to push away from your desk and unplug. This will involve shutting down the computer, turning off your work phone, and setting aside all work-related materials. This is all part of creating scheduling boundaries that will ensure healthier work-life balance.
5. Discuss timelines with your boss
Coordination with your boss is essential for optimum scheduling and smooth workflow. You need to make sure that you are both on the same page concerning work goals and that all expectations are aligned. An open flow of communication between everyone involved helps reduce stress, lowers anxiety levels, and prevents work-related conflicts.
6. Build beneficial relationships
Always strive to build meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. Whether it is with friends or family, coworkers, or industry contacts, relationships are essential for enabling you to get the most out of your work and personal life.
Building relationships may involve meeting up with friends and family over lunch or getting out of the office and establishing new networks. You may even ask coworkers out for coffee or a quick walk around the block to discuss upcoming projects or departmental objectives.
7. Reduce work-related travel
Traveling is already pretty stressful under normal circumstances. But it can be even more so when it is related to work. Spending a lot of time on the road can place tremendous strain on anyone, and it becomes even more so when you consider the demands of work. If it is at all possible, try to reduce instances of work-related travel and the time you spend on the road.
8. Reduce distractions at work
Work-related distractions are almost impossible to avoid altogether, but you can reduce them considerably with a bit of thought and planning. Even something as seemingly trivial as turning off your phone notifications can work wonders in terms of eliminating workplace distractions.
Consider working with earphones on. In addition to reducing the noise around you, this could also help you focus on the task at hand.
9. Reduce financial stress
For better or for worse, finances are an unavoidable part of life. For many of us, life revolves around the constant quest to become more financially secure. Chasing after a paycheck and trying to balance the finances can be extremely stressful. You will, therefore, have to find ways to reduce financial stress, whether it means living within your means or finding other ways to make more money.
10. Live close to your office if possible
Long commutes to and from work often make an already stressful situation even worse. If it is at all possible, try to find a place closer to your office. If you could get to work within a few minutes’ drive, on a bicycle, or on foot, you could eliminate a significant source of stress and enjoy a better work-life balance.
11. Organize your work area
The importance of keeping your workspace organized cannot be overstated. Anything that doesn’t belong in your workspace is potentially a source of distraction.
Declutter and organize your workspace periodically to ensure your ability to sit down and get to work at a moment’s notice. This will reduce the time it takes for you to get on with the task at hand and enable you to work more efficiently.
12. Establish a maintenance routine
Always keep the value of maintenance in mind. Many aspects of life require periodic maintenance, whether they are office equipment, personal relationships, or our bodies. You need to establish and maintain some sort of maintenance routine to ensure that these essential aspects continue to function as expected.
13. Engage in regular physical activity
Many people are guilty of neglecting their health and physical well-being. Getting caught up in work isn’t an excuse to let your health slide. Try to engage in some type of physical activity regularly. Even going on a walk or regular stretches can work wonders if you don’t have the time for a more extensive exercise routine.
14. Create boundaries for your time
Always set aside some personal time for yourself. Whether it is for your family, for a hobby, or even just time to chill, this personal time is essential for work-life balance.
You will have to be reasonably strict about taking this time for yourself as well. If anyone tries to ‘intrude’ on your time, your first course of action should be to decline politely or reschedule for a more suitable date.
15. Continue learning and growing
Finally, always strive to keep learning and growing. Keeping yourself motivated and inspired can be beneficial in many ways. You could pick up new skills that will make you more effective at your current job or prepare you for an alternative career.
You could also learn something for your gratification. The key is to focus on learning and improving yourself continually to bring about a healthier work-life balance.
One of the most distressing aspects of an imbalanced lifestyle is that the effects aren’t immediately apparent. For most people, it could take months and even years before they realize the toll that an imbalanced life takes on their lives. They, therefore, fail to take the necessary steps to ensure a more optimal work-life balance.
The converse is also true. You probably aren’t going to see a considerable improvement in your life right away, even after following the above tips to the letter. It will likely take some time before you begin to reap the benefits of a healthier work-life balance. Even so, the tips above will pay off in the long-term. Over time, you will realize how much closer you are getting to achieving a genuine work-life balance.