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How To Achieve Work-Life Balance

An artist's depiction of the rat race in reference to the work and life balanceSource: Wikimedia

“Work-life balance” can sometimes feel elusive, but it’s still one of the biggest buzzwords in today’s corporate culture. And it’s especially important for companies trying to win and retain top talent. But if you’ve had a hard time juggling a job along with a personal life, you’re not alone.

Some people choose to take their minds off work by playing their favourite online slots games. That can be a great way to recharge. Here are five other steps you can take to achieve optimal work life balance in the new year.

Set hours to be away from work every week.

The pressure to optimize your life is huge. Many full-time workers use apps like Instacart or Amazon Fresh, cleaning services like Handy, and helping apps like TaskRabbit to make sure they don’t have to spend any unnecessary time away from work. That’s especially true today, since work follows us everywhere on our iPhones. But we should never forget that our work improves when we schedule time to decompress.

For some people, that might look like establishing daily limits. What if you stopped checking email every day after 9 p.m.? Could you have screen-free days on Sundays? Or could you make sure you don’t work in the morning before you get to the office every day? Creating these boundaries for yourself will help you let go and enjoy downtime.

Scheduling other activities can also help. Joining a club or a casual sports team could sound like extra stress, but just think about how relaxed you’ll be after a regular yoga class or basketball game. Those scheduled hours will give your brain a break so you can return to work recharged.

Work from home when you can.

Don’t forget that when you work in an office, you actually have to get there and get home every day. And that commuting time can add a lot of time and stress to your days. Working from home on occasion could help you find more space every day to tackle projects you haven’t had time for. Not every job can be done from home, but it’s always worth asking your manager if a partial work-from-home setup could be right for you, and the company.

Man practicing yoga on a roof top building Source: Unsplash

Use that vacation time!

So many people get vacation time they just don’t use. And that’s silly! Vacation time exists for a reason: so you can take a step back, connect with family and friends, and check in with your goals and values. In the New Year, be smart about that vacation time. Schedule your days off in advance and let your manager know when you’ll be gone so deadlines don’t get in the way. Then, coordinate with your coworkers so you can all take time away without worrying that you’re missing out on something. When everyone takes a step back, we all benefit from the recharge.

Ask yourself: “Am I spending my time the way I want to?”

Just in case you haven’t noticed, work and life aren’t actually separate things. Your personal life will always be connected to your work, and often these realms intersect and feed each other. Having healthy work can allow you time to invest in your family, and prioritizing sleep and healthy eating helps you focus on your work.

Maybe instead of thinking about how to always achieve a precarious balance between the two, we could think more about where we want to be at any given moment. Your values change over the course of your life and career, and what “balance” looks like will also change. There might be workdays when it feels more important to you to stay late so you can get a promotion and have more time with your family later. Or you might take a paternity leave from work at some point instead of pursuing a promotion. Check in with where your values are so you can make the right choices for you.

Use social time for positive engagement with colleagues.

As many business leaders know, much of the workday is spent in “social time.” We’re not just talking about team bonding and team lunches here. There’s also conversations that happen before and after meetings, side conversations during the workday, and water cooler and copier chatting. Some team leaders think these conversations are unnecessary and take focus away from “actual work,” but it might be worth thinking about what these moments can add to the workplace.

You can’t have an efficient team without the social bonding that happens in these small moments. And it’s impossible to have a collective vision if you never connect with each other. Imagine how unhappy a workplace could make you if you never got to chat with your colleagues. Spending time with your coworkers can help you overcome challenges, get inspiration, and enjoy work more. And maybe that’s the most important part of feeling like your work and life are in harmony.

Interested in Business? You may also like this article about five businesses that went from startup to stardom.