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2019 Ultimate Guide To Work-Life Balance: With 26+ Action Steps to Create Balance Now for Busy Professionals!
By Suja Johnkutty
For a lot of us, poor work-life-balance is the norm – both for employees and employers and regardless of if you are female or male. You may be looking for helpful work-life balance tips. Having a poor work-life balance job makes people more stressed both at work and outside work.
Consider this: overscheduled, and with no downtime, - especially with 24-hour accessibility throughout many devices- your life becomes the petri dish for a stressed lifestyle.
What sparks joy while fostering professional growth and home balance should be the focus for a happy life, to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Of course, this presents its own unique set of challenges. And every person’s definition of achieving work-life balance in their job can vary.
Let’s dive right in.
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What Is A Work-Life Balance?
To understand my work-life balance tips, you must understand what work-life balance is. Work -life Balance means ‘meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of one’s three life quadrants’. Use the Acronym EMR- my healthcare colleagues will appreciate this!
(E)mployment, (M)yself and (R)elationships
ASK YOURSELF NOW!
- When was the last time you achieved AND enjoyed something at work?
- How recently did you achieve AND enjoyed something for you?
- Or achieved AND enjoyed with your family; or your friends?’
- What are some jobs that offer work-life balance?
List Of Jobs That Can Easily Adapt A Work-Life Balance Lifestyle
Here’s a quick list of jobs that are easier to adapt a work-life balance with. See if you belong in this list:
- Web Developer
- Dental Hygienist
- Insurance Sales Agent
- Interpreter and Translator
- Insurance Sales Agent
- Maintenance and Repair Worker
- Nail Technician
- Executive Assistant
If you are not one of the above? Read further for some work-life balance tips... sadly most of us aren’t… but there is hope!
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?
In general people are tied to their jobs, they deal with the symptoms of stress.
Frequently, we don’t have time to relax and recharge, and thus our ability to do our job decreases and our performance level suffers.
The solution is creating a schedule that allows us to do activities that we enjoy while staying connected to home life. This solution will help us to be better employers, employees, friends, and family members. Once the time to work is over, we need to learn to walk away from the laptop and not answer the cell phone for work calls. Life is about balance.
This type of balance is not easy to achieve because there will always be people who want to make demands on your time.
What happens if we go on and let work spillover after the job is over?
The consequences are that we aren’t available for friends and family members, and often take our stress out on the ones we love.
It goes beyond the physical: we can also suffer from illness and physical disorders that stem from prolonged stress such as heart disease, alcoholism, and even diabetes.
“Idleness is not just... an indulgence, or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction...-Tim Kreider“
Work-Life Balance Strategies
Several decades into my career as a healthcare provider, I didn't care about work life balance. I lacked the discipline and inspiration to have work-life balance, it consumed me, and in the end, I will share my fall. Believe it or not my inspiration came from an unlikely source - a pencil.
‘As an empath, I’m hard-wired to care.’
Decades into my career, I was off balance not making down time a priority. Has this ever happened in your life?
I was burnt out.
Then, one day, I got my wake-up call. SOMETHING HAPPENED, and I threw a pencil across the room. I became exhausted, under appreciated, and depersonalized..
That was an inspired wake-up call. Can you relate?
Below, I have compiled my 26 favorite work-life balance tips. These are the strategies I read daily. And have helped me stay balanced and happy and hopefully for you as well.
Like me, you are likely overwhelmed with daily tasks and more significant projects, and we know that time is a commodity.
In using the Harvard Business Review and other journals to then scan the daily news, I find the stories that most resonate with you my audience. And of course why it matters..
These tips will save you time, keep you up-to-date on all lifestyle trends, and help to inspire future initiatives.
So, without further ado, here are my favorite, must-read work-life balance tips.
1. Leave Work At Work
When you leave work at a reasonable hour but spend your entire evening thinking and talking about what went down in the office, there is no bonafide break. I allow myself 5 minutes of rant and then move on.
From now on, try to leave any work issues at the office or ‘leave it brief’ so once you go at night, you can be fully present at home. When you walk out that door commit to leaving your stress behind. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
“Leaving the office at the end of the day can be tough, but carrying your stress home with you won’t serve you any good,” advises Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan.
2. Sleep Deprivation Effects
When you get home from work late, the last thing you want to do is immediately eat dinner and go to bed or scroll social media. Unfortunately, if you often find yourself catching up on your favorite Netflix shows until 1 a.m, you’re part of the 1 in 3 Americans who don’t get enough sleep.
A recent study in young adults showed that reading on a light emitting device before bedtime increased sleep onset latency and reduced the duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Getting less than your recommended hours might not seem like a big deal, but you’ll feel the wrath. It can increase your risk of everything from heart disease and stroke to mental distress. Instead, focus on getting home earlier so you can enjoy your nights and catch some restful night sleep. Sleep is one of the most effective work-life balance tips to restore balance in your life.
3. How Many Sick Days Per Year Do You take?
Use this with caution in addition,workaholics can use their flextime to recharge.
Why is it that no one takes sick days when they’re sick? Especially if you are paid. Showing up at work — and trying to do your job effectively while sick puts your clients, colleagues, and patients at risk says a 2016 study. Cornell University researchers found 3 million U.S. employees are heading into the office despite being sick every week. That time is there for a reason. To avoid falling into the trap of using those days as an opportunity to get better can benefit both your physical and overall well-being. It helps in making it easier to stay balanced.
4. Find A Hobby
An easy way to make sure you have a healthy work-life balance is to find something you love spending time doing that has nothing to do with work. If you’re on a computer all day, try to find something that gets you moving. If you are analytical, work with your creative side: paint, write or draw. When you have something to look forward to, you’ll make it more of a priority in your life — and you’ll feel a more excellent work-life balance because of that. Trust me you will feel accomplished and rewarded.
5. Make A Daily Schedule Planner
Sometimes being productive requires an hour-by-hour schedule for your day. Once you have specific periods to do certain duties, you’ll stay on task and waste less time. For instance, you can go home at a reasonable hour and enjoy your time away from the office instead of feeling less accomplished.
Brendon Burchard mentions that “Block Time” requires “blocking out” significant amounts of time to advance or complete a substantial project in your life. Then use breaks to move or switch tasks. Block time is one of the best work-life balance tips to increase productivity by 30% each week.
6. Show Your Boss What You’re Worth
The most successful people have mastered the best work-life balance in their job, and a lot of them are running businesses and CEO's of companies. So how do they do that? They define their balance. They get creative with their downtime. They use carpools to school for family bonding, perhaps listening to an audio book as a group, and work out during their lunch break. They are firm in taking time for themselves. They refuse to compromise their priorities which, in some instances, may earn them more respect among colleagues.
It shows your boss what you’re worth and makes them want to keep you around. The top-performing professionals at companies around the globe had the best work-life balance — not only because they work effectively, but as a bonus they get a little more flexibility in their schedules because of that.
7. Schedule In Some 3-Day Weekends
Why only enjoy 3-day weekends during those very few yearly holidays? Here’s one of my work-life balance tips you’ll love. Every several months take off a Friday or a Monday. Whether you book an Airbnb for an exotic escape out in the wilderness or enjoy being at home, it will give you something to look forward to and help you get your head back on track, so you’re doing your best work once you return. It doesn’t matter where. It matters that it’s on the books!
The concept of the vacation was invented by companies back in the early part of the twentieth century as a productivity tool. They conducted fatigue studies and found that employees performed better after a respite. The same is true today. In one study by Alertness Solutions, reaction times went up 40% after a vacation.
Simpliflying, a global aviation strategy firm of about ten people, decided to experiment with making recurring, scheduled vacations mandatory. What happened? Creativity went up 33%, happiness levels rose 25%, and productivity increased by 13%.
8. Get Up Extra Early
While there are only 24 hours in a day, waking up 15 minutes earlier will give you some of the alone time before the rest of the world gets up it's like you get a head start— a.k.a. The time when you can do things that benefit yourself without the worries of having to respond to emails or take care of the kids. Your self-care done in the morning it sets you up for the rest of the day.
Getting up 15 minutes early helps you better deal with negativity. Unhappily, a study in 2014 determined that people who go to bed later are more likely to be overwhelmed with repetitive negative thoughts.
It can also enhance your chances of success. According to Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards they tend to get which then lead to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to cut them.” Randler added, “ They’re proactive. Many studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.”
9. Ask For More Work Flexibility
If your career involves spending time on the computer you are in luck. That tech component makes it easy for your boss to consider giving you more flexibility. Especially if you’ve proven yourself to be a trustworthy employee, communicate with your boss your option to work a day or 2 per week. That way, you can spend some of those hours working outside the office, automatically giving you some much-needed work-life balance. As long as you get your work done, it shouldn’t matter where you’re logging in.
10. Set Boundaries With Your Boss
When I hired a virtual assistant, I had to set boundaries on preparing for the week. And getting the majority of the work done before the evening and weekends came first. It became a good habit as we practice what we preach. Sometimes bosses or superiors don’t understand when they may be crossing the line and overstepping boundaries. They call and text all the time and make you feel like you’re working non-stop. And, unfortunately, they might need a sit-down conversation for you to tell them how you feel. Be brave, this may be a hard work-life balance tip to implement, but assertively let your boss know you love your job, but you also need to make sure you have some balance for your mental health. Then ask if they have any suggestions on how to make that possible. If you don’t let them know something is bothering you, they won't know something is wrong.
11. Keep Mornings For Yourself: It's Your Me -Time
Mornings are the only time you have to yourself; it’s our coveted time. Because of that, make it your mission not to schedule anything before work hours and instead take that time to develop a routine you love. Wake up and have some me time. It makes for a better rest of the day. It can be an exercise routine, meditation, prayer or journaling or whatever suits your fancy.
12. Do Some Volunteer Work
Gratitude and generosity go a long way especially when you volunteer. When you are feeling like a ‘lack’ mindset, go ahead and volunteer your time. It can be a stretch for some especially if you think if you feel that your job is eating up your life. Then you probably also feel like you can’t take on any additional commitments. Even though you know you probably should be volunteering at your kid’s school or a soup kitchen or something. Who has the time?
You do, or you’ll feel like you do once you start volunteering. According to a new study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine people who volunteer are happier with their work-life balance than those who don’t, even when total actual free time is limited.
And this isn’t the first study to suggest the time-stretching powers of volunteering. A 2012 paper in Psychological Science reported that when people volunteered their time to help others in some way, they said a greater sense of “time affluence.” Compared to those who spent those same hours doing something to make themselves happy.
13. Vent When Necessary
Ditching negativity is a plus for your well-being—if you feel like you need the occasional vent, go for it.
In a 2018 study published in Organization Studies, researchers found some good comes from “venting” at work. Those venting sessions gave employees time to process their feelings, which led to more positive thoughts overall. It reduced stress and boosted productivity.
14. Avoid Getting All Your Validation from Work
For some of us when our careers were set so early on we tend to feel that there is nothing else that brings us the same amount of joy./Work is just one part of your full life. On those days you do something wrong or aren’t feeling good enough in your career; those feelings can quickly transfer into your home life, too. Suggestion?/Just remember how grumpy you were on those days — and how easy it is to take it out on your family and friends. Luckily, remember there’s a fix: make sure the way you see yourself comes from sources beyond your workplace to feel balanced overall.
15. Eat A Healthy Diet
One of my work-life balance tips that your body will thank you for is eating healthy! Eating a healthy diet isn’t just crucial for your longevity. It’s also essential in handling the stress of your job, which helps you achieve balance in life. According to the Mayo Clinic, your best bet is sticking to the Mediterranean diet, which is full of fruit, veggies, and lean protein that can help boost your brain power and overall well-being.
Kelly Turner, Ph.D., founder of the Radical Remission Project, is the author of a remarkable book called Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. During the study, Kelly identified more than seventy-five factors that cancer survivors said they used as a part of their healing journey. Almost every one of them used nine of these factors. Radically changing your diet was one of the nine elements that all those patients shared in common. Check out the other eight here.
16. Turn Your Phone On Airplane Mode At Night Or More Often
Speaking of staying off your phone, why not just turn it on airplane mode once you leave the office for the day? It saves your energy and lessens stress. That way once you’re all cozy at home, you won’t be bothered by any emails, calls, or alerts from anyone at work and can get some significant piece of mind in the process. What’s so important it can’t wait for the morning? (Obviously, this varies from job to job).
17. Prioritize What’s Important
When you’re scheduling out your week, it’s easy to put your work schedule first and figure out the rest. But by doing so, you’re not leaving much wiggle room for the things in your life that matter. This week, take on my work-life balance tips and make sure you focus on schedule in quality time with your family ...yes some of us have to schedule it in. By making sure your real-life events are prime parts of your schedule along with work meetings and tasks, you’ll feel much more balanced in life.
18. Be Protective Of Your Energy
You only have so much energy you can give during the day, so you have to make it count. If you know your energy is better in the morning, try working more so in the morning and don’t leave tasks for later at night. Holding onto your energy is to ensure you’re still up for enjoying your time at home, and to limit time sucks throughout the day.
19. Hire People To Free Up Your Time
When you’re at home and finished with work, you want to see if you can delegate tasks like getting food delivered, cleaning activities, laundry so that you can optimize your well being. Does it matter who does it? If you can hire out, do that. Get some help when you feel overwhelmed.
20. Develop A Sunday Night Ritual
When Friday rolls around, your mood couldn’t be better: an entire work-free weekend after a busy week sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t last long enough. Since the Sunday Blues are real, develop an end of the weekend or midday ritual.
Denmark is one of the happiest countries, and one way it preserves rituals is through a practice called hygge: which inspires happiness. This is one of the work-life balance tips that will make you feel calm on a Sunday evening!
21. Mental Benefits Of Exercise
We all know of the physical benefits of exercise, but exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use training as a powerful tool to feel better. It’s especially crucial for women who have heart disease as a prominent risk factor.
22. Stress Management
If work always has you frazzled, the bad news: that stress is going to follow you home and can even hurt your health. To avoid that negativity seeping into your home life, find something that helps you relieve your stress. — Whether that’s a morning meditation or a walk outside over your lunch break — and always make time for it. That way, your nights can be spent relaxing — not with your stomach in knots.
23. Hang With Friends Beyond Your Co-Workers
You spend a lot of time with, and it’s important to get different vantage points from your friends. Sometimes time with your co-workers you end up talking about work anyway.
24. Learn How To Say “No”
Each person’s mileage with this word can vary, but this small word can show you how much in control one is to their destiny. Don’t worry that your ‘no’ comes off confrontational. Columbia University research has demonstrated that the observer may even come off as under assertive to what the person saying ‘no’ worries about. They found that our perceptions of our assertiveness are often unreliable in mock negotiations. So if you feel confrontational, there’s a good chance the other party doesn’t see you that way.
25. Spending Quality Time And Scheduling It.
As sad as it might seem we are all scheduled throughout our day. Why not schedule in family time as well? Only 6 out of 10, 15 and 16-year-olds regularly eat dinner with their parents. Family vacations are down by 28 percent. Make time to schedule it in. It fosters connection, bonding and relieves stress.
26. Keep Your Weekends Work-Free.
It’s also a fast track out of burnout. As a former burned out physician I saw that person riding their bike while I was driving to work on my Saturdays and felt envious of the biker’s lifestyle. Having weekends off made everything possible.
All of these are still really great to follow work-life balance tips, strategy, advice, inspiration and better for balance. I’ve added some more to the mix.
27. Reflect On The Day.
Unfortunately, most people don’t do this. They’ll run out the door the second they’re done with their work. But if you can make time to reflect on your best achievement or success that day, that will inevitably have you happier and centered.
28. Write Down Your Accomplishments.
Happiness researchers state that it's not just right to reflect on these but to write these down.
Did we miss one of your go-to life work balance tips?
Let us know in the comments below!
Kick starting your life balance begins with overwhelm strategies to have a happy, stable authentic career and life. You? How do you figure it out?
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Suja is the recharge coach for busy to burned out professionals helping them multiply their better relaxation time. She is trained in both neurology and psychiatry and is a high-performance coach. Her specialty is assisting professionals to overcome burnout, apathy and income stagnation. Her clients benefit from powerful mindset techniques, wellness practices, and tactical guidance, so they go from feeling empty and broke to creating happiness in their lives. This means showing up more fully for themselves, their patients or clients and their families, while working well-paying, fulfilling, REASONABLE hours. She’s living proof.