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Have you started to feel burnt out? Has anyone told you that you need to take a break? Or maybe your health has started to decline. Either way, from one workaholic to another, I can say that I see you and I understand how you feel. It took me years of late nights, hustling, working extra hours, high stress levels, and feeling like crap before I realized why work-life balance is so important.
In order to reclaim my time, energy, peace, and health, I had to realize the importance of work-life balance. In this article, I’m taking a deep dive into why work-life balance is so important, what work-life balance is, how you can achieve it, and examples of how you can incorporate work-life balance in your life daily.
Before diving in, I want you to know that you can and will achieve work-life balance. Work-life balance looks different for everyone. Why? Because we all have different needs, responsibilities, and requirements for what allows us to thrive personally and professionally. As you read this article, take time to think about your needs. At the end of the day, this is your journey and you deserve to build a life that makes you feel happy, fulfilled, and in sync with yourself.
Many professionals that I’ve coached have asked, what does a good work-life balance look like? I explain it in two ways, visually and literally. If you’re a visual person imagine your life as a delicate dance between two partners. Who are the partners? Your career and your personal goals.
The dance is work-life balance and the perfect rhythm allows you to excel in both areas without stumbling over your own feet.
Literally, at the heart of it all, work-life balance is being able to intentionally allocate time for your career, passions, family, friends, and most importantly, yourself. You should feel a sense of renewal, boosted energy, and relief at the end of each day. These feelings come when you’ve met your personal and professional needs.
It always helps if you envision each day as a canvas waiting to be painted with colorful strokes of accomplishment and enjoyment. These strokes can include completing projects at work, leaving on time, crafting, hiking, spending time with family and friends, exercising, etc. Ultimately you are in control each day of the masterpiece you decide to create. On the days you feel drained and unfulfilled, take a hard look at what you did that day and adjust as needed. Work-life balance takes practice and effort to turn balance into a regular habit.
Sometimes resetting and refocusing on what we want out of our careers is helpful. If you need to organize your thoughts, ideas, and goals, download the Career Growth and Goal Tracking Journal.
Click here to download your digital journal.
Simply put your emotional, mental, and physical well-being are important. You only have one life and one body and honestly, we don’t spend much time taking care of it (yes, that’s a problem!). The more you take care of it, the longer you will be around and be able to genuinely enjoy your life. I know this may sound extreme, but the truth is your work-life balance plays a large role in your health and genuine satisfaction with your life.
Constantly feeling burnt out, stressed, overworked, and unfulfilled can lead to auto-immune issues, serious illness, and depression. It can also have a negative impact on your family life, career path, and work performance. When you ask most people (who are older or sick) what their one regret in life is, they will often tell you, they wish they would’ve achieved more balance in life. Balance includes not overworking and spending more time taking care of yourself, and participating in activities that bring you pure joy and a sense of accomplishment.
By now, I’m guessing that you recognize why work-life balance is so important, but you’re probably also wondering, how can I achieve work-life balance. There are many ways that you can achieve work-life balance, but it all boils down to prioritizing your needs and values.
Below I’ll provide 15 examples of work-life balance that you can easily incorporate.
Having a flexible schedule can make a huge difference in your life. If your employer offers flexibility, check into this program. Here are a few examples of flexible hours. Some employers have 32-36 hour work weeks that still allow you to get paid a full-time salary. Other employers may allow you to work four 10-hour days which will allow you to have a three-day weekend instead of two days. Finally, another option is reducing your work schedule (either going part-time or eliminating 8 hours).
As with all of these suggestions, make sure to find the flexibility option that works best for you. You may need to account for personal commitments like classes, childcare, or taking your kids to activities after work. If you’re unsure which one will work for your lifestyle, ask your employer if you can go on a trial for one or two of the options before making a final decision!
Professionals were working remotely long before 2020, but during that time, remote work became more common. Being able to work from home creates balance by eliminating commute time, which for many saves 2-4 hours of time per day. If your employer offers this option, consider utilizing it. If your employer does not offer this type of schedule, but you know you would enjoy it, consider finding a remote-friendly employer.
Do you have a habit of taking work home with you? Do you check your emails in the evening and answer after-hour phone calls? If you don’t truly “unplug” after work, it’s hard to create balance because you are constantly in “work mode.” Being in work mode 24/7 is a quick way to encounter burnout and deal with a never-ending amount of stress. Be intentional about leaving work at work and diving into your personal life once you are off the clock.
P.S.- Regardless of what your corporate culture encourages, I’m telling you, it is ok to wait until tomorrow to check your emails. I promise they are not going anywhere!
Disclaimer: I understand the need to check your phone if you work in emergency services, but on your days off, please make sure to intentionally unplug to take care of yourself!
When is the last time you learned something new? When was the last time you spent time enjoying a personal passion or hobby? Take time to indulge in activities you love such as playing an instrument, cooking, baking, gardening, etc. Dedicating time to do something you genuinely enjoy is a great emotional release and stress reducer.
It’s easy to take family and friends for granted, especially when they’re always there. With the hustle and bustle of work, it’s easy to forget to connect and check in with everyone. You can be intentional with connecting by gathering with your family at a specific time for dinner each day. Engaging in conversations, sharing feelings, and laughing together helps create stronger bonds.
Having a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for mental clarity, stress relief, and your overall physical health. Try to devote time to taking care of yourself in this way. Many professionals workout before work to get a boost of energy for the day. Others workout after work to release stress. Try both and figure out which one brings the most benefit to you!
Whether or not your employer offers parental leave, try to figure out a way to take some time off. During this time, you will need time to take care of yourself, your newborn, and your relationship. Establishing a new routine is stressful enough without adding work to it. You can’t get this time back so spend it on what is important.
Try designating a specific time each day for self-care activities like reading, meditating, or taking a relaxing bath, promoting mental well-being and relaxation. Again, taking time to indulge in what brings you joy, will help bring work-life balance into your life.
If you have reached the point of burnout and exhaustion, it may help to take a break from work to travel, learn new skills, or simply recharge, allowing for personal growth and rejuvenation. During this time you can also work on creating boundaries and recreating what you want your work and home life to look like.
Engaging in regular social activities, like meeting friends for coffee or attending social events will help you foster meaningful relationships outside of work. Good friends will also be there to remind you of the importance of work-life balance. They will also make sure to pull you out of the rut when they notice you may be drowning and self-sacrificing too much.
Are you a lover of travel? Does your company encourage it? If so, think about combining work with travel. Seeing new places, experiencing new cultures, and going on new adventures consistently will help you feel fulfilled, refreshed, and balanced while working.
This is one of my favorite techniques. Most professionals are encouraged and taught to get everything done on their to-do list in one day. The reality is, this isn’t feasible or healthy. Trying to finish everything in one day usually results in working extra hours and feeling exhausted. Instead block time out to finish certain tasks during certain days and times. Time blocking will help you feel more organized and force you to maintain balance.
If you enjoy making a difference, explore volunteering. Volunteering can ground you and give you a different perspective on life and priorities. While forcing you to reflect, it will also expose you to meeting new people and feeling balanced, inspired, and motivated.
Professionals who have strong relationships with their family members and friends naturally feel more balanced. Try creating family plans that include regular outings, such as picnics, hikes, or movie nights, to create cherished memories and strengthen family bonds.
If you’re someone who loves education, consider enrolling in community classes or college courses to expand your skill set. Having a routine class to show up to (on a topic that you enjoy) can bring work-life balance to your life!
By now, you can begin to see the importance of work-life balance. Not only is it important, but it is also a healthy and positive habit to develop. Having a work-life balance is good for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It is also good for everyone who is around you because your mood and health can directly impact those that care about you.
There are many benefits to incorporating work-life balance into your life. It’s beneficial for you, your employer, and those who love you. Below is a list of benefits of work-life balance.
You’ve read about the benefits and ways to incorporate work-life balance and by now you’re probably wondering, “How can I achieve work-life balance?” To be honest, achieving work-life balance isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. This will require an intentional, proactive, and thoughtful approach. Here are some strategies that you can implement.
Achieving a better work-life balance will allow you to thrive personally and professionally. Work-life balance is more than just a buzzword, it’s a fundamental pillar of your mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. You deserve to feel balanced in all areas of your life! It will take time to incorporate these strategies, but the good news is, I know that one day you’ll look back and be extremely proud of yourself.
Cheers to your success!