Everybody wants to achieve a healthy work life balance.
Unfortunately, wanting to do something and actually doing it are different. If you’ve ever tried to prioritize your professional life and your personal goals equally, you know this is true.
What’s the solution? How can you keep work-related tasks from piling up so that you can actually enjoy your free time? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
I’ll address all of these things in this article. Keep reading to learn:
- What is work life balance?
- Why is work life balance important?
- What does a healthy work life balance look like?
- How to achieve work life balance in 4 easy steps
What is Work Life Balance?
Work life balance refers to the way individuals prioritize their time.
When one is able to pursue work-related goals and enjoy personal pursuits in equal measure, we say they have good work life balance. If, on the other hand, one spends all of their time working—or even thinking about work—we say they have poor work life balance.
It’s important to remember that proper work life balance looks different for everyone, as we’ll discuss in a later section of this article. The key is learning what it looks like for you.
Why is Work Life Balance Important?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner or dedicated employee, work life balance matters. Once you you learn to balance your professional life and your personal life, you’ll experience:
Long work hours create stress. Sustained stress leads to a variety of health issues as well as burnout—both of which result in lower levels of employee engagement. This is important because organizations with highly engaged workforces are 23% more profitable. The last thing you want to create for yourself and/or your team is a stressful work environment.
Studies show that poor work life balance can lead to serious health issues, such as strokes and coronary heart disease. Extended working hours can also lead to mental health problems, like anxiety and depression. In fact, those that work 55+ hours a week are 1.66 times more likely to suffer from depression, even if they are otherwise healthy.
Higher Quality Work
Contrary to popular belief, neglecting personal time and working long hours will actually harm your output. You can’t keep grinding 24/7 and expect to maintain peak productivity. By taking breaks, you’ll give yourself the rest you need to be creative and efficient. When this happens, you’ll naturally produce better work for your company and propel yourself forward.
What Does a Healthy Work Life Balance Look Like?
Proper work life balance is important. The question is, what does it actually look like?
As mentioned earlier, every person is different, so your version of good work life balance will look different than mine. That said, aim for something like what Amy has achieved…
Amy is an experienced social media marketer for The Social Plus Agency. She spends her days crafting viral content for mega brands in the B2C space and really enjoys her work. It’s fun, challenging, and gives her a real sense of fulfillment.
Fortunately, work isn’t the only thing Amy does. Her boss allows her to have a flexible schedule and take regular breaks throughout the day. So, when Amy isn’t planning TikTok posts, you’ll find her hanging out with friends, walking her dog, or cuddling up with a novel.
Amy invests a lot of her free time into personal care, too. She works out at the gym a few times a week, tries to eat healthy, and occasionally treats herself to a spa day.
As you can see, Amy is able to pursue career and personal goals equally. As such, she has a high level of job satisfaction, plenty of time to see loved ones, and never feels burned out.
Here’s the good news: you can achieve exactly what Amy has—or, at least, your own version of proper work life balance. Keep reading to learn four tips to help get you there.
How to Achieve Work Life Balance in 4 Easy Steps
I know what you’re thinking…
“I’d love to achieve work life balance, Joe. I just don’t know how. My job and family life are so demanding. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to attain the healthy lifestyle you’ve described.”
I hear you. Better work life balance is a big goal. It won’t be easy to achieve, but it’s definitely possible. Try implementing the following strategies to see if they help:
1. Separate Work and Home Life
One of the easiest ways to achieve a proper work life balance is to physically separate your work and home lives. Basically, leave work where it belongs—the office.
This is harder for remote workers to do. When you work and live in the same building, you can’t just leave the office. Here’s a potential solution for you: create a home office for yourself.
Commandeer the spare bedroom, call dibs on the master closet, put a pop-up tent in the garage—do what you have to do to create a separate, personal workspace for yourself.
Why is this important? Because it will allow you to leave at the end of the work day. You can easily exit your spare room or closet or tent and close the door/flap behind you.
I also suggest setting boundaries for yourself to further reinforce the separation between your work and family life. Promise yourself that you’ll stop working by [Insert Time] every day. Then turn off your work email so that you don’t receive work-related notifications all evening.
Once you set boundaries, stick to them. You do yourself a disservice if you don’t.
2. Become More Efficient at Work
Here’s another tip for you: look for ways to boost your efficiency.
There are lots of options available to you. For example, you could invest in an online course, or some other form of education, to help you get better at your job.
You could invest in technology solutions, too. Automation software, for instance, will help you accomplish certain tasks on autopilot, allowing you to focus your energies elsewhere.
You can also boost efficiency by doing less work. No, I don’t want you to slack off. I want you to delegate tasks to other qualified individuals. Which activities bog you down on a daily basis? Can you hand them off to an employee? You won’t know until you try.
If you have the budget, consider hiring extra help. A personal assistant (PA) can take care of menial tasks. A marketing agency can design more effective marketing strategies. An outside sales team can take sales calls and close more deals for your company.
The more efficient you are at work, the less likely it is that your professional life will creep into your personal life. Keeping them separate will allow you establish true work life balance.
Sometimes it can help to take a step back in the middle of the day for a little meditation. Its important to be in tune with youself and know what you need at any given moment.
3. Use All of Your Vacation Days
Let’s talk about something fun: vacation!
We all want to go on vacation. A cross country road trip? A family excursion to Disney World? How about flights to the Hawaiian Islands for you and your significant other? Sounds great!
According to Statista, U.S. employees waste 768 million vacation days a year. You might want to take a trip and make memories that will last a lifetime. But the truth is, you probably won’t.
This is a shame because vacations help workers de-stress, relax, and rejuvenate. When you return from that trip you’ve been dying to go on, you’ll likely be more effective in your role.
So, don’t hold back. Use the paid time off you’ve been saving and make some memories! Once you do, you’ll finally start to achieve a better work life balance.
Also, don’t feel like you have to plan a huge, once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Small trips can be beneficial, too. Go away for the weekend. Or the day. Or a couple of hours one afternoon. Some vacation time is better than no vacation time. Keep that fact in mind.
4. Take Small, Daily Steps
Last, but certainly not least, realize that good work life balance is a process.
You’ll have days when everything goes right and your professional and personal lives seem to be in perfect harmony with each other. Then you’ll have other days when everything in your career goes wrong and you have to work overtime to put out all of the fires.
The key is to take daily steps towards proper work life balance. If you continue to strive for it, you’ll eventually get to a point where you’ve achieved it—most of the time, at least.
To help you get to that point faster, take stock of your progress at regular intervals. Consider journaling a few times a week. Then read back through your journal entries once a month or so to evaluate your efforts. What can you learn to help you become more balanced?
If you constantly analyze your efforts, you can improve them faster and more accurately.
Healthy work life balance is important. Fortunately, it’s not a pipe dream. You can achieve it. You just have to implement the tips, tricks, and best practices outlined above. Once you do, it will be much easier to balance your professional and personal life.
And if you’re a small business, don’t forget to ask for help. Finding a partner for your marketing or technology can be a huge boon for growth and balance. Check out Scorpion. Best of luck!