Work Life Balance
Yes, You Can Find Work-Life Balance
Have you ever felt like all you do is work? Even before the COVID pandemic and the resulting increase in remote work, many people found it hard to find the right balance between work life and home life. Now, as our work lives change and more of us work from home, it can be harder than ever to separate the two.
How has work changed?
Remember the movies and TV shows where the office worker wears a suit and hat and clocks in at 9 and clocks out at 5? Well, it’s been a long time since that was most peoples’ work life. Modern technology such as smart phones and personal computers often means that we’re easily accessible, even during “off” hours. While telecommuting means we aren’t driving back and forth to the office, we often work during that time instead of using it to create a clear line between work time and home time. In fact, research done in 2021 showed that the average workday in the UK, Austria, Canada and the US increased by more than 2 hours during the pandemic!
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is the feeling that you’re able to give the right amount of attention to all the facets of your life, personal and professional. That doesn’t necessarily mean they get an equal amount of attention, or that it’s always distributed the same way – you might have a big project that means work gets more attention this week, or a special family event might mean that your personal life needs more attention. Plus, your normal distribution might not be right for your co-worker. In short, what makes up the right work-life balance is very personal and variable.
What are the benefits of work-life balance?
Living an unbalanced life is stressful. We rush from here to there, wishing there were more hours in the day, and ending up exhausted. Finding a good balance between your work and personal lives is good for your health, relationships, and career. For example:
- Improved Health. Stress can raise your blood pressure and weaken your immune system. It makes you more likely to catch a cold or the flu, and long-term high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack. By finding better balance, you can reduce stress and improve overall health.
- Better Relationships. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed can make you irritable and depressed and damage your relationships with others. Improving work-life balance allows you share time with the people you love.
- Increased Productivity. Balancing work and life can reduce pressure and fatigue. This in turn increases productivity. Research shows that employees who work 50 hours or more have a dramatic decrease in productivity, and that those working 70 hours don’t get any more done than those working 55 hours.
How can I create more balance in my life?
Suggestions for finding more balance, from Maryville University and Mental Health America:2,
- Create a Defined Workspace. Creating a separate, neat space where you work helps to mentally separate your work life from your home life.
- Set Manageable Goals. Whenever possible, prioritize your work. Do the important tasks first and eliminate the ones that don’t have to be done. Controlling your workday in this way helps to reduce stress and gives a feeling of accomplishment.
- Be Efficient. Avoid procrastinating by breaking big jobs into smaller tasks. Finish one, then take a short break or get up for a cup of coffee. Then start the next task.
- Take breaks. Step away from your desk for lunch and take mini breaks to clear your mind between (or during) tasks. Some people like to set a timer to remind them to look up from their work or stretch.
- Schedule Wind Down Time. When the workday is done, find something that marks its end. Have a cup of tea, walk the dog, or turn off your computer instead of letting it go to sleep.
- Unplug. Resist the urge to send an email before bed. The email will be there in the morning, and you’ll sleep better.
- Don’t Overcommit. Learn to say no. If you’re too busy to take on a new project, talk about it with your boss. If there are too many events on your social calendar, allow yourself to cancel something or turn down new ones. If something is really important to you, put it on your calendar and make it a priority.
- Take Care of your Body. Eat healthy food and get enough exercise. Taking care of your body helps to reduce stress.
Your EAP can help
If you are having a hard time achieving work-life balance, contact your EAP. We can help you with referrals to services such as day care or elder care, home maintenance services, or connect you with a life coach to help you manage your time, at no cost to you.