Work-life balance is generally defined as the relationship and proper prioritisation between your career and your lifestyle, as well as the impact the two have on one another. Work-life balance is important because it impacts the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. With the introduction of advanced technology, it’s harder than ever to disconnect from work and have a definitive endpoint where you’re officially done for the day. While it would seem that this should lead to an increased level of productivity, in the long run, it actually diminishes productivity because we’re not giving ourselves enough time to properly unwind and refresh after work.
As your level of stress increases, your level of productivity decreases. But when you’re balanced and happy, you’re more productive. It goes without saying that it’s important to work to provide financial support and to satisfy your career goals, but you should invest in your interpersonal relationships and your other life interests because there’s more to life than just your career.
You don’t want to bring the stressors of the workplace to your home life or vice versa. Quality work-life balance allows you to clearly separate work from home, lowers your stress levels, makes you less susceptible to burnout, and leads you to be more productive.
Here are a few tips on how you can achieve a better work-life balance:
- Have clear endpoints to your work day. Have a set time when you’re done for the day, and allow yourself to recharge and engage in non-work activities after that point.
- It’s OK for you to occasionally be unavailable to the outside world. So, don’t be afraid to ‘unplug’ from your devices from time to time.
- Start with making some small changes. You don’t need to make a dramatic upheaval, you just need to set your priorities and build up some small wins to improve your work-life balance.
- Engage in mindful thinking. Being mindful of the present moment might be the biggest key to obtaining a proper work-life balance. Be fully present at the moment as you engage in what you’re doing at work, as well as what you’re doing outside of the workplace.
- Have fun after work during the week. Don’t save your fun activities for the weekend, engage in regular fun activities after the work day is over.
- Deliberately and intentionally take time off from work. Allow yourself to devote periods of time to personal interests outside of the workplace.
- Have a strong social support network. It has been observed that social support may moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and confer resilience to stress
Like everything else in life that’s worth having, quality work-life balance takes practice. Keep your focus on practising quality work-life balance, not on perfecting it. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to work-life balance, so what works for me and what I consider to be great work-life balance for myself isn’t necessarily what will work for you or even be what you want.
There will be ebbs and flows in regard to how much work-life balance you need. Sometimes you’ll want to put more of an emphasis on work, and sometimes you’ll want to put more of an emphasis on outside life. It’s up to you to determine what gives you a quality feeling of work-life balance, and how to achieve it. Take control and responsibility, because your quality of life and deciding what makes you happy and fulfilled is your responsibility.
Matthew Buckley is an organisational psychologist. He holds a master’s degree in organisational psychology with a specialisation in conflict management from the University of New Haven in 2015.