Work-life balance may be a buzzword used by many employers and employees, but that's only because it's an important thing to consider when you have a demanding job or one with high expectations. Employers know that if they ignore work-life balance, they could lose valuable employees to burnout or a more flexible opportunity, but it's really on the worker—you—to do everything you can to maximize work-life balance and not let work take over your life.
Here are some strategies for improving your work-life balance.
1. Schedule your downtime.
It may seem to add to your stress to schedule in downtime, but for many employees, it's the only way to make sure it will happen. Whether you have a planned activity like a hike in the woods or just a glass of wine in front of the TV at night, scheduled downtime will give you something to look forward to and will force you to get away from work for a while.
2. Unplug those devices.
Having time away from screens helps your brain to refresh and reset. A constant flow of emails, texts and other notifications is exhausting and depletes your mental reserves. Constant screen time also makes it impossible to be fully present for family and friends, so your relationships suffer. You can also unplug partially during your work time by having a separate work phone that you only check at certain times, rather than forwarding all your calls and emails to your personal phone so they are accessible 24/7.
3. Banish perfectionism.
Perfectionists have unrealistic expectations for themselves, and often for others as well. For most people and jobs, it is impossible to do everything perfectly. Furthermore, perfectionism at work usually leads to neglecting self-care, which can end up with serious consequences. Balance is actually the opposite of perfectionism, encouraging appropriate self-care that ends up leading to a better and less frustrating work experience in the end.
4. Take baby steps.
If your work-life balance is out of whack, you're not going to fix it all in a day or two. Taking small steps toward a bigger goal will be more successful than trying—and failing—to make big changes all at once. If you want to start running, for example, you will quickly get tired and quit if you try to run 10 miles a day. But if you start with one or two miles and build up to 10 as your body gets stronger, you are much more likely to achieve find success.
5. Outsource drudge work.
You know that chore you hate? Hire someone else to do it. Not everyone is cut out to keep their lawn looking trimmed and neat or to cook a gourmet meal every night. Part of work-life balance is spending more time on the things that bring you joy, so don't feel guilty about sending your laundry out to a service or paying someone else to mop your floors so you can take your kids to the park or have a romantic dinner with your significant other.
6. Negotiate Flexibility.
A flexible schedule can contribute greatly to work-life balance by putting you in charge of how you spend your day rather than an employer. Maybe coming into work at ten instead of eight gives you precious moments with your children in the morning and a chance to get to yoga after they go to school. Maybe you're a night owl and do your best work in the wee hours. Employers are wising up to the fact that when they can be more flexible, they get better work out of employees.
GDH offers job seekers resources to help them find their next opportunity. Join our talent network to connect with employers that need talent like yours.