Have you heard of the term: work–life balance?
This is the goal in modern workplaces nowadays. Despite the continuing desire to be cutting-edge leaders in the fast-paced business world, employers are now increasingly recognizing the benefits of nurturing work-life balance among employees. It can be counter-intuitive but there is logic in caring for other aspects of employees’ lives in order to increase productivity. Many companies now offer flexible work schedules, paid time off policies, and company-sponsored family events and activities, among others.
According to the Government of Canada’s Work-Life Balance in Canadian Workplaces: Work-life balance is a self-defined, self-determined state of well-being that a person can reach, or can set as a goal, that allows them to manage effectively multiple responsibilities at work, at home, and in their community; it supports physical, emotional, family, and community health, and does so without grief, stress or negative impact.
Work-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean giving equal time for work and for your personal life. It emphasizes being able to determine for yourself what it means to comfortably attend to various concerns without having to sacrifice physical, emotional, family and community health.
The benefits of having work-life balance include:
- Less stress, meaning better health.
- Better health translates to better focus and more productivity.
- Lower absenteeism.
- Improved morale and working relationships.
- Increased employee retention.
Ways to achieve work life balance
- Keep reasonable hours at work
I get it. You work hard even beyond your normal working hours because you are dedicated to your job and you want to move up in your career. You believe that sacrificing some family time is part and parcel of this journey. After all, you are doing this for your family.
We can all count on working overtime occasionally. Some professions have peak seasons so it is normal to expect longer work hours during these times. Overtime only becomes a problem when it becomes habitual. It becomes unhealthy when people decide to work 10 hours or more in a day most days of the week. This can take a toll on your physical and mental health. After a while, productivity will begin to decrease because your brain and body will be overworked.
- Optimize your time
Maximize your eight hours so that you don’t have to work overtime. Plan your days, schedule your activities, and prioritize. If you’re honest about it, not all tasks are urgent. Learn to focus on the more essential jobs and then schedule less urgent ones for later. Also, steer clear of time wasters like surfing the net, long meetings, too much water cooler chats, and a cluttered workspace. But don’t forget to take breaks. You’ll need them to keep your energy up.
Determine your ideal work style. Are you most attentive in the mornings? Then maybe schedule heavier and more urgent tasks early in the day. Are you more creative after lunch? Then leave tasks that need conceptualization and imagination in the afternoons. Periods of low energy can be spent on doing administrative tasks like filing, or maybe answering standard emails.
Another way to optimize your time is to collaborate with team members. Taking in others’ inputs and ideas can help make your work better and more efficient. Delegating tasks to colleagues when appropriate also fosters teamwork and frees you up to do other tasks.
- Distinguish personal time from work time
Do you take work papers at home? Answer calls and emails during dinner time? Check messages before bedtime? In the increasingly connected world we live in, we can be available to our bosses, colleagues and clients 24/7.
Learn to unplug. Being distracted is not fair to your children, husband/wife or yourself. After office hours are done, it is important to maintain the quality of your personal time by being completely present. Give your mind and body a chance to relax and de-stress. You will need the energy when you start work again the next day.
- Invest in yourself
Self-care is important. To be able to have the energy to take on responsibilities in all the areas of your life, you have to invest in your own well-being. A healthy diet, enough sleep, rest, and exercise are crucial to physical health. Yoga and meditation can also help strengthen your focus so that you can be more effective at work.
Nurture your natural curiosity and strive for continuous learning. Also, make time for things you enjoy. A person who tends to his or her own mental and spiritual growth naturally radiates positive energy, joy and enthusiasm for life.
- Take vacations
Give yourself time to refresh and recharge. Take advantage of your vacation days as an opportunity to get out of your regular routine if you’re stuck in a rut. If you’re worried that taking vacations will make you look like a non-performer, consider that a US study has found no evidence that avoiding vacation improved one’s chances for a bonus or a raise. It also notes that “taking some time away from work might just help others see how important your contributions are”. (6 reasons why you should take your vacation days, Rise staff, Rise).
So go and spend some time with your loved ones and create great memories. Travel and explore to gain new ideas, learn new perspectives, and expand your view of life. You will not only develop into a more well-rounded individual but will return to tackle your daily duties and responsibilities with renewed energy and zest.
Sources: Work-life balance, hrcouncil.ca; Three reasons why work-life balance is important, Laura Hutton, Australian Institute of Business; 6 ways to improve your work-life balance today, Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily. All accessed November 17, 2017.
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