By: Grace Minnich
Many young professionals struggle to find healthy boundaries when it comes to separating professional life and personal life. While this isn’t a new problem, the pandemic brought an influx of remote and hybrid jobs, making work-life balance even more difficult to maintain.
Finding a rhythm between work and home can be a challenge, but there are many ways to improve upon and master it. Keep reading this article learn five of the best ways to establish balance in your life.
What is work-life balance?
“Work-life balance” is a buzzword in the business world. But what does it mean? In essence, work-life balance is the ratio of time spent working to time spent engaging in relationships, extracurriculars, and other matters unrelated to professional life. Some sales and c-suite positions require individuals to spend more time on work that may cut into the “life” piece of work-life balance. For example, a salesperson may have a work dinner that keeps them from having dinner with their family. While some of this depends on the type of job one has, implementing boundaries and healthy habits creates a clear line between work and life that will improve quality of both spheres.
Why balance matters
Some people value healthy work-life balance more than others, but it’s certainly beneficial to everyone. For one, it can improve familial relationships. Boundaries protect work from interfering with home life, allowing you to prioritize loved ones.
Additionally, clearly defining the line where work ends and personal life begins can boost productivity during work hours. Sometimes, giving your brain a break is the best thing you can do to inspire creative problem-solving and innovative thinking.
Finally, healthy work-life balance impacts mental health. If work drives your life and dominates your thoughts, stress at work is going to seep into every aspect of your life, likely yielding negative mental health.
How to identify poor work-life balance
So how can you tell if balancing work and home life is an issue for you? Some basic indicators are fatigue, tension between family members or friends, and poor mental and even physical health.
To see how you’re doing balancing professional and home life, try out this free quiz from the Canadian Mental Health Association!
How to balance work and home life
1. Create a morning routine you love.
The way you start the day sets the tone, so find an energizing routine that makes for the most productive you. If you know you need to eat breakfast and have coffee, wake up early enough to do so. Maybe exercising is the way to wake up your brain, or maybe journaling first thing gives you a clear mind. Whatever works, make your morning a time you look forward to and that fuels your day.
2. Take breaks at work.
If you never give your brain a break, you’ll likely experience burnout. Whether it’s going for a walk or grabbing coffee with co-workers, take little breaks throughout the day to boost productivity and energy. To further explore the benefits of taking breaks at work, check out our previous article on the subject.
3. Plan the next day before you leave.
Before you leave work, make a list of what you need to get done the next day. This ensures you aren’t thinking about stressful work tasks when you’re around your loved ones. You’ll be less stressed (and likely more pleasant to be around) and feel more organized.
4. Leave work at work.
Along the same lines, leave the stress at work as much as possible. It’s okay to talk about it if you have exciting news or if you’re frustrated, but dwelling on it all night makes for an unhealthy balance. Try giving yourself 20-30 minutes to debrief, then focus on relaxing and being present with your family or roommates.
5. Create boundaries.
Establish boundaries between work and home that co-workers will respect. They should be realistic based on your job description, but there are several lines you can draw. You can try turning off your phone, having a separate work phone that you don’t check after you leave, or establishing exclusive work hours if you have a more flexible schedule.
Stewardship: the key to managing your time
All of these are practical ways to improve work-life balance, but perhaps the best thing you can do is shift your mindset. Instead of thinking of time as a scarce resource, view it as a gift from God that we should steward, or invest for greater benefit, in a way that is pleasing to him.