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“I love my job so much!”
“My work is my entire life!”
“I’m sorry, but I’ve got to cancel our dinner because I have to work.”
We’ve all been there: prioritizing our work so much that we end up neglecting our personal lives. After all, the bills have to be paid; you’ve got to put food on the table and still ensure that your rainy-day piggy bank is full.
Today’s business world is fast-paced and unpredictable, which is why it’s so challenging to achieve a work-life balance. Social media and technology haven’t made it easier either and it’s no even more challenging to separate your work life from your personal life.
Think about it; it’s become common to check your work emails before you go to bed, and picking up business calls during dinners is not even frowned upon. How did we get here? When did we start sacrificing our personal lives to meet the unreasonable demands of our jobs?
In this guide, we’ll take you through why work-life balance, including what work-life balance is, why it is important, and tips on what you could do to improve your own work-life balance.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is all about splitting your energy and time between your professional and personal life. Think of it as a seesaw: if you focus too much on your work, your personal life suffers. But, on the other hand, if you neglect your work, your career goals will remain unfulfilled.
Attaining this balance seems fairly easy, but it rarely is. It’s challenging to create enough time for self-care, family, friends, and spirituality and still meet the demands of your workplace. This is because people are mostly driven by the innate desire to be successful and achieve their monetary goals and end up viewing recreational activities as a distraction.
You should, however, note that achieving a work-life balance isn’t all about setting equal time for your personal and work life. This balance can also look like this:
- Prioritizing things that you consider important without feeling apologetic or guilty.
- Making a significant impact in your professional life without sacrificing your mental health.
- Spending quality time with your friends and family.
- Living in the moment and enjoying the things that actually matter.
Work-life balance could also mean setting and enforcing strong boundaries between your personal and work life. Simply put, it’s about feeling content and fulfilled both personally and career-wise.
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?
Here’s an interesting fact: overworking can literally kill you. In fact, studies show that around 750,000 people die each year due to burnout-induced stroke and heart diseases. Is your work so important that you have to sacrifice your life for it? We think not!
Here are the top reasons you should achieve a work-life balance.
1. It Reduces Stress
Did you know that work-related stress is the 5th leading cause of death in the US? Don’t overwork yourself so much that you experience burnout! Interestingly, most people assume that they don’t have a choice when it comes to setting boundaries in the workplace, but you do.
It’s okay to decline that call when you’re enjoying your vacation. It’s okay to leave work exactly at 5. And, it’s definitely okay to delegate tasks when you’re not in a position to handle them. This will significantly reduce your work-related stress and enhance your professional fulfillment.
2. It Improves Your Physical Health
Part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance includes being intentional about your physical health. This includes regular exercise, healthy sleep habits, reducing your alcohol & sugar intake as well as eating healthy.
Your career may be demanding, but you don’t have to stay chained to your desk all day. Take a walk! You’ll end up feeling less overwhelmed.
3. It Improves Your Mental Health
Around 1 in every 5 US adults suffer from some form of mental health problem. You don’t have to be part of this statistic! When you maintain a healthy work-life balance, you’re able to deal with the job pressures. This is because you’ll feel balanced; you eliminate the constant and overwhelming pressure.
Taking a break from work also gives you space to connect with your inner self and decompress, allowing you to be more self-aware. This ultimately helps you handle stressful situations in a healthy way.
4. It Increases Your Productivity at Work
Think about it; when you’re stressed out, how productive are you? There’s a high chance that you spend a significant chunk of your time feeling overwhelmed and thinking of potential solutions instead of working.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance protects you from burnout, allowing you to feel more connected to your workplace. This then makes you more engaged at work, increasing your productivity.
5. It Increases Your Happiness and Fulfillment Levels
Work-life balance is all about being in control of your personal and professional life. It’s also about feeling good about yourself and your achievements. Think of it in terms of creating real meaning for your life: finding your life’s purpose so that you’re fulfilled, happy, and positive.
What Are the Components of a Healthy Work-Life Balance?
There are 6 main components of a healthy work-life balance;
- Leisure management: Set aside time to relax, rest and do the activities that you love and make you genuinely happy.
- Change management: Gradually adjust and get out of your comfort zone. Embrace change, but be sure not to get overwhelmed.
- Time management: Identify your priorities and schedule them in your calendar. Start with the most important tasks if you have too much on your plate.
- Self-management: You are the captain of your own ship. Take care of your physical and mental health by embracing proper nutrition, exercising, meditation, etc.
- Technology management: Don’t let technology dominate your life. Take time off your devices and simply connect with yourself or others.
- Stress management: Once in a while, you’ll face stressful situations. Find a healthy way of dealing with conflict and diffusing work pressure.
Tips to Improve Work-Life Balance
Now that you understand how important work balance is, you need to start working on striking the ideal balance. Here are some practical tips:
- Take time off. Vacations and self-care aren’t a luxury but a necessity! Make use of your leave days and take a break from the world to simply live and enjoy life.
- Prioritize time with family and friends. Personal interactions can lighten your mood and make you feel happier.
- Take breaks during the day. For example, take a walk during your lunch break, interact with other employees…just don’t stay glued to your screen all day.
- Minimize work distractions on your days off. Stay off your business email and avoid taking work calls. They can wait until you’re back in the office.
- Ask for guidance if you’re having a hard time maintaining a healthy balance. You could get a career coach or even ask your colleagues for tips.
Most importantly, prioritize your happiness, mental health, and fulfillment.
Take Charge of Your Work-Life Balance Today!
When you’re burnt out, you risk more than jeopardizing your social life. You also put your mental and physical health at risk. The good news is that you’re in charge of creating your own work-life balance. You are in control of creating boundaries and creating time for the things that really matter. And the above guide is a great place to start!