How to Achieve Work-Life Balance | On Careers

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have realized the need to pay more attention to their work-life balance. Many joined the Great Resignation and quiet quitting movements to gain work-life balance on a larger scale. But what is work-life balance, exactly?

Tired bearded hipster sitting in his office and rubbing his eyes.

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The Oxford Dictionary defines work-life balance as the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that equal parts of time are spent on work and on personal activities. Instead, those parts of life should be in harmony with each other with neither side being neglected. Work-life balance is important because it contributes to your overall well-being, greater productivity at work and satisfaction in life.

Read these tips on how to achieve work-life balance in your life.

Steps to Achieve Work-Life Balance

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Work-life balance can look different for everyone. No matter what that looks like for you, there are good habits that you can implement to find and create the ideal balance of work and life in your day to day.

Define Your Values

Since balancing work with a personal life can look different for everyone, it’s important to use your own personal and professional values to define what an ideal work-life balance means to you. Your values are things that are important to you, so using someone else’s values to define work-life balance can cause frustration. If you are unsure of your values, ask a few trusted friends or co-workers to describe you in three words. This can help you get a sense of what your values are.

Evaluate Your Current Work-Life Balance

Before you can make effective changes to your professional or personal schedule, it’s important to know where you currently stand. Work-life balance is fluid, so make sure to check in on it continuously and make adjustments.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries can help combat burnout and make sure attention is given to all the important parts of your life. For example, setting boundaries in your work life includes determining if or how often you will check your work email outside of scheduled working hours. If you manage a team or department, let them know how and under what circumstances they can contact you outside of your normal work hours.

Generally speaking, it’s more common for components of your professional life to overshadow components of our personal life. However, it’s also important to establish boundaries in your personal life. For example, if you work from home, talk to your family about your work schedule and at what times they can or cannot interrupt you. If they need to contact you during scheduled work hours, what would be the best way to do so?

Work Fewer Hours

The gig economy and ease of remote work have opened up a lot of new opportunities for professionals. However, when people are working more than one job, it can be hard to maintain work-life balance due to working additional hours during the week and working on the weekends.

If you find you are regularly working outside of your scheduled working hours, track your activity for a week to see where you are spending the majority of your time. Then, make adjustments to your schedule, such as working on difficult tasks when you are at your best during the day. You may also find that prioritizing your weekly and monthly tasks can help you work fewer hours.

Companies are increasingly analyzing steps they can take to achieve work-life balance. Some are even implementing a four-day workweek. Talk to your boss about how you can adjust your schedule to work fewer hours. If your organization isn’t currently considering a four-day workweek, could you work a hybrid schedule or negotiate flex time?

Set Meaningful Career Goals

Work-life balance isn’t just about time management and boundaries. True balance comes from being aligned with your values in all aspects of your life, so it’s important to set specific and realistic career goals that are aligned with your values.

How are you honoring your values currently at work? How can you honor your values more fully? Set a goal this week to start honoring your values more consistently. If you don’t already have one, create a strategic career plan and talk to your boss about your goals.

Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Make sure to schedule downtime for yourself. This can be time for exercise, a hobby or just quiet time to relax. Scheduling weekly time for self-care will go a long way to feeling refreshed and recharged. Leverage technology to make best use of your downtime, such as setting up and using your focus times on your phone or pausing your inbox on your computer.

Use a Personal Calendar

Using a personal calendar can help you to have a visual of your scheduled personal activities for work and life balance. Many devices allow you to have multiple calendars and also to color code your activities. This can help you get a sense of where you are spending the majority of your time and where you could make adjustments. Putting important personal plans on the calendar – such as a movie night with your significant other or a coffee date with your best friend – can help ensure that you don’t schedule work activities at those times.

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