The term work-life balance as defined by BusinessDictionary is, “A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle,” and too often it is not achieved, especially in today’s technological world of 24/7 access to voicemail and email, but that does not mean you should not try. Studies show that people who do not have a good balance between work and personal life can be less productive and more stressed. Those who do have a good balance are usually more productive and tend to stay with their employer for a longer time. Here are some tips to help you find a balance between your working and non-working life.
Unless you are a doctor or emergency responder who needs to be accessible every hour of the day, set aside some time to be away from your smart phone. There is no need to check emails while at your child’s baseball game, for example. Take some time to unwind and disconnect from the stresses of the rest of the world. Enjoy hobby, or some rest and relaxation, whatever it is that helps you get comfortable again.
Exercise is just as important to your health as eating and sleeping, yet too often exercise is one of the first things to go when work or family demands increase. But exercise helps reduce stress, it releases endorphins which help you feel better and lift your mood. Exercise is also something that can be done as a family, giving you more time with those you love and helping to add balance to your day. But even if you exercise alone, recognize that some sort of physical activity is part of your personal care and should be as much a priority as your work and family life.
It is to spend some time maintaining and enjoying a healthy social life. Humans are social beings and there are positive physical and emotional health benefits to regular socializing. In addition, consider a week-night activity instead of trying to fit everything into a weekend. For example, a monthly get-together with your friends or a book club would be a good way to have a standing date on your calendar and ensure you the personal time needed. It will also give you a reason to leave the office.
Manage Work Days
There is nothing wrong with occasionally staying late to complete a special project or assignment. But if you are working late every night in order to accomplish daily tasks, perhaps it is time to take a look at how you are managing your work and whether or not some simple changes, or a conversation with your boss, might be in order. One way to leave on time is to let your co-workers know you must leave. You can do this politely by saying, for example, “I have to leave on time at 5 today, so if you need anything, be sure to let me know by 3.” This shows a willingness to accommodate the needs of the office with your need to not work late every day. Of course, the best thing is to use proper time management and have a good work pace to complete your tasks in a timely manner. As for those days when you just cannot avoid working late, be sure to take your breaks or your lunch or do something that is not work-related like calling a family member or friend, talking a walk, or just sitting outside in nice weather.
Your employer wants well-rested employees and your vacation or other time off benefit is something that you have earned, just like your salary. Use it! If it will be necessary to check voicemails or emails, set a specific time when you do so while you are on vacation. Perhaps, from 7-8 am each morning, if it must be done daily, and then only respond to critical communications during that time. Most employers will not mind if you wait until you return to take care of non-critical items, especially if you have left an automatic response telling people who to contact in your absence.
Employee Assistance Programs
Most employers have some sort of employee assistance program. It is a benefit they pay for so their employees have resources available when they are needed. If you are having trouble finding the right work-life balance, take advantage of the program. Counselors and other professionals can help you identify the things that are not working or are causing stress and give you advice on how to address them. They should also be able to help you identify what is most important and how to make time for those things, and maintain a good balance between your work and personal life.
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