Finding time for both work and home life can be a delicate balancing act. Do you prioritize your work over your personal life? Do you keep your phone close, so you can answer emails and calls, regardless of what other activities you may be in the middle of? Do you work over the weekend to gain a head start to assignments for the coming week? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions listed, then this article is for you. While we’re sure your boss appreciates your tenacity and drive, how does this make you feel? The more specific question is, have you noticed an increase in anxiety or stress levels due to your work habits? If you’re finally ready to take a break, here are some simple ways to ensure that you can create and maintain a healthy balance between both work and personal life.
Commit to Yourself
Ok, it’s understandable that the worker-bees of the world may be reluctant to break existing work habits all at once. For this reason, it’s important to start small and commit to scheduled and planned breaks away from work. If you find yourself leaving the office late every night, then you must force yourself to leave work on-time at least once a week. Train yourself by scheduling a dinner date with a friend, family member, or significant other. Chances are, you won’t want to break your commitment. By planning, you have control over figuring out the best day in your work week to step away from the stress and allow yourself time to relax and socialize outside of the office. Essentially, you are creating a commitment to yourself and loved ones, that you will shut down work obligations for one night.
Take A Break
I’m sure you’re thinking, “what’s the big deal if I want to spend a couple of hours working remotely during my free-time? It can’t hurt right?” Wrong! It can hurt productivity by attacking your mental health. Weekends and time off from work are essential to recharge your batteries so you can be productive for the rest of the week. Think back to those “fun” college days when you worked on projects and papers— did you finish them all in one sitting, or did you write a little, take a break, and come back with fresh ideas? Ok, please don’t recall the papers that you procrastinated on and wrote in one night, let’s consider that a variable (don’t worry, we all did it), but after taking short breaks, did you feel refreshed and ready to work? Of course, you did!
Allowing yourself time for breaks allows your brain to recharge and refresh, which can promote the formation of new ideas that may elevate your work. As said by Vice President of Veeam Software, Danny Allan, “The thing missing from my work-life balance was me. I need to take time for myself to recharge and rest so that I could focus more fully on work and family rather than burning out. This realization has dramatically increased my productivity” (Allan, 2019). Lesson learned? Even executives need to take time away from the office. Believe it or not, the business will continue to prosper if an employee allows themselves to have a personal life.
Create a Morning Routine
Establishing a healthy balance in life does not mean you have to turn your routine upside down. The goal is to take small steps towards a healthier and more balanced existence. One of the most natural changes is building a better morning routine. Whether you like yoga, reading the paper, or cooking breakfast— it’s essential to make time for the things that you enjoy in life. This activity is meant to encourage you to start your morning with something that will center your mind and take you away from the stress of the upcoming day. Remember that this should steer away from the use of electronics, or anything else that can easily promote “work.” Find an activity that keeps you away from checking emails and transports your mind to a relaxed state – which brings us to the next point.
Shutdown Your Electronics
Many people find it appealing to handle last-minute work emails or sift through social media posts to wind down before bed. Unfortunately, this habit can be detrimental to effective sleep patterns. As said on the Sleep Foundation, “photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world and aligning our circadian rhythms (centered in a small region of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) to the external day-night cycle”(“Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s Necessary to Turn Off Before You Tuck In,” n.d.). Therefore, it is essential to wind down before bed with some light activity that does not require an electronic screen.
So, what should you do instead? Try journaling before bed, which will give you the opportunity to analyze stress and anxiety levels throughout the day. In a study conducted by the Dominican University of California, 43% of individuals who wrote down their goals accomplished them (“Study Focuses on Strategies for Achieving Goals, Resolutions,” n.d.). By taking this time before bed to analyze your day and evaluate your progress, you will relax your body as well as keep yourself accountable. It is essential to identify what causes your stress, and journaling will help you find ways to minimize it.
Plan A Vacation
Now, here it is — the concept that will make the workaholics cringe. It’s one simple word, but it will bring about great reluctance… VACATION. I know, it may seem impossible to step away from work for an entire week. However difficult this may be, remind yourself of the paid time off that you have been accruing and are letting go to waste. Take the time to consider the following statement by Danny Allan, “if you avoid ever taking time off for just yourself, you risk driving yourself to a breaking point and losing productivity altogether” (Allan, 2019). Allowing yourself a break away from work will ensure you can regroup, which will give your brain time to stop thinking about your current project. By providing your mind a break, you are giving yourself the opportunity to look at the problem from a new point of view.
Make A Plan
These tips and tricks are helpful, but without planning, they are just that… tips that never get used. Creating a successful balance will happen when you consider your personal life to be a priority. Recognizing the struggles, you may face during the week will help you find ways to overcome them. You may have a busy work week coming up, therefore scheduling your fun activity may work best on a Friday. Maybe you enjoy working out, thus finding a yoga class that starts at 6 pm will get you out of the office at 5 pm. When you schedule a meeting with your boss, do you reschedule it? If you answered no to this question, then why can you keep a meeting with someone else, but cancel the things you schedule for yourself? Consider yourself and your well-being as a priority — scheduling time during the week to build your personal life should be an appointment worth keeping.
Live Your Best Life
We all have different hobbies, talents, and activities that we enjoy doing in our free time. So, why are we stifling these qualities that make us unique? We strive to create a diverse workplace, but the creation of new ideas continues to be restrained as business continues to overpower personal life. To prevent this collectively tedious thought process, it is essential to encourage employees to create a healthy work and personal balance. “Thriving” at work does not mean “living” at work. Different life experiences lead to the most diverse ideas, thoughts, and opinions — therefore we must help employees do the activities that make them unique.
Are you taking a stand for yourself and making time for the things you enjoy? Tell us in the comments below how you find ways to prioritize your life?
Allan, Danny (2019). Balancing Work And Life May Not Be Enough In 2019. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/01/24/balancing-work-and-life-may-not-be-enough-in-2019/#214e5e091b2c
Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s Necessary to Turn Off Before You Tuck In. (n.d.). Retrieved form https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/electronics-bedroom-why-its-necessary-turn-you-tuck
Study Focuses on Strategies for Achieving Goals, Resolutions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-highlights-strategies-for-achieving-goals