Work-Life Balance - What It Is and How to Create It
Regardless of your work habits, you likely have some awareness of how an unbalanced professional and personal life can greatly affect one’s overall wellbeing. Especially now, with remote and hybrid work becoming commonplace, the line that separates work and home life have become more blurred than ever. So if you find yourself struggling to create healthy boundaries between your career and personal life, this guide to finding a better work-life balance might change the way you think about work in the future.
What even is a work-life balance?
According to Business News Daily, a work-life balance is the point at which “a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life”.1 This does not mean that you need to create and adhere to a strict schedule of how many hours you are dedicating to work and personal life each week. It is less about simply dividing your time in half and more about finding time for the other things in life that bring you joy.
While a work-life balance may initially sound like a pro for employees but a con for employers, this is far from the truth. When employees are able to carve out time outside of work to recharge and relax, they come back to work as better versions of themselves, more energized and equipped to take on the day’s tasks. Among the many benefits of a work-life balance are lower stress levels, decreased chance of burnout and better overall wellbeing.1 How you define your work-life balance might differ from how someone else does, but the general goal remains constant.
Here are five ways to establish a better work-life balance:
1. Create boundaries between work and personal life
It is important to establish a boundary between your work life and your home life. This is especially important if you work from home because the lines can be easily blurred. Try not to have work-related apps, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, open on your personal phone. Seeing work notifications after work hours will incline you to think and stress about work when you don’t need to. If you find yourself constantly opening up your laptop at all hours of the day and night to get some extra work done, try setting more regular work hours for yourself. Obviously, there might be some days when you switch up your hours based on convenience, but it is important that you try to maintain a consistent schedule. Also, if you work from home, try working in a designated working area or office instead of on the couch or from your bedroom. Just remember to truly “unplug” when you unplug.
2. Take advantage of your PTO
Take a vacation! This one sounds like a no-brainer, but according to New Views Strategies, “[o]ne out of three Americans feel guilty for taking time off…” and 45% of Americans don’t even use all their yearly PTO.2 When you do decide to cash in those PTO days, fully unplug, don’t answer emails, don’t think about that upcoming presentation — just be present and allow yourself to recharge.
3. Put your health first
At the end of the day, your mental, physical and emotional health are top priority. If you are struggling with any of those aspects of your life, it will be more difficult to bring the best version of yourself to work. Even if it means taking a day off or two, focusing on your health will help you to be a better employee in the long run. Whether this means taking a 10 minute break in the middle of the work day to go on a walk outside and clear your head, or making time for exercise after work to release some stress, find what helps you be the best version of yourself and make time for it.
4. Have fun on weeknights
Have you ever heard the phrase, “living for the weekend”? Essentially this consists of dreading the work week and always looking forward to the weekend. Once Monday rolls around you are miserable again, and the cycle continues. However, weekdays don’t have to be “filler days”, the dreaded days you have to get through in order to enjoy the two days of the weekend. It is time that we normalize doing fun activities on weekdays. What this looks like to you might differ from someone else, but the important part is that you don’t put off your happiness until the weekends. Book a workout class, meet with a friend for happy hour or go see a movie. Fun doesn’t have to wait until weekends.
5. Make time for friends and family
Lastly, just like how you take initiative with cultivating professional relationships, or prioritize your calendar space to get lunch with new clients, it is important to apply that same intentionality to personal relationships as well. Work should not be a reason for neglecting close personal relationships. If finding time for friends and family means actually penciling them into your calendar, then do that! Sometimes life gets busy, and it can be hard to make time for friends and family, but by being intentional with your time, you can make it happen.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what a work-life balance is and are able to implement some of these tips into your life. At Scientist.com we highly value a work-life balance and understand that maintaining one’s own personal wellbeing is key to being a better employee, coworker or manager. Maybe you need to take a step back and evaluate how you are currently allocating your time and what you are prioritizing in your life. Maintaining this work-life balance will take effort at first, especially if you are used to letting work run your life. However, after some practice creating boundaries between work and personal life, it will start to feel more natural.