5 Ways to Better Work-Life Balance
It seems some days like work-life balance is an elusive, unreachable goal. A large percentage of American workers feel their job expects that they need to be available 24/7, since they have the ability to check in from anywhere using their smartphone. This type of constant, round-the-clock availability can take a toll on both our mental and physical health. As humans we need to socialize, relax, and care for ourselves to stay happy and healthy. Always feeling that we are essentially “on call” with our phone always within reach can make that challenging.
Here are five simple ways to improve your work-life balance:
It’s easier said than done, but (unless it truly is a requirement of your job) avoid checking your phone for work matters after hours. If you work from home, set work hours for yourself and do your best to stick to them. This constant checking may have become a habit you wish you’d never started, and if you are honest, practically all work-related matters can wait until the next day. It’s key to unplug from work when you get home each evening and on the weekends. Let your coworkers know you won’t be returning emails, calls, or texts regarding work after hours so that they can prepare for this change. If you set this new expectation and stand by it, they will learn and adapt their behaviour.
If you can’t seem to get all of your work done within the allotted 40 hours, you aren’t alone. An alarming number of North Americans work more than 50 hours a week, every week. Before you go to your boss to ask for a reduction in your workload, take a careful look at how you are spending your time. Track it for a few days and see what’s causing you to stay late each night and come in early each morning. Are you sitting in unproductive meetings that could be reduced in length? Are you spending any time on social media? You will likely be surprised by the ways you can change or eliminate distractions and maximize your productivity.
Take a Stay-cation
Another vital way to get your work-life balance in order is to make use of all of your vacation days. A large number of US workers lose essential time with their family or with themselves because they don’t take all of their vacation days, or in worst cases, don’t have any vacation days at all. If you feel uncomfortable about using all your holiday in one long vacation, schedule the occasional day off here and there to enjoy “stay-cations.” Taking the occasional three-day weekend can do wonders for your mental health. Breaking it up vacation time like this will give you the self-care days you need while ensuring you don’t come back to an overwhelming mountain of work.
Empower and Delegate
Many of us grew up hearing, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Unfortunately, this gets ingrained to the point where we feel we can’t delegate any tasks for fear that they end up back in our laps in worse shape than before. If you have employees you manage or freelancers you outsource to, take the time to train them well and make sure they know exactly how to do things. Of course, this will take time upfront. Take a leap and trust that they can handle it, empower them and give them a chance. Once they understand your requirements and they show you what they can take on, you’ll feel more able to hand off work and create more capacity for yourself.
There is nothing worse than worrying about work when you’re with your family, and feeling guilty about your family while you’re at work. Work-life balance is elusive, but it is achievable. Ask for help where you can, delegate often, and leave work at work whenever possible.