Work-Life Balance is a term that describes an ideal state where your work and personal life are in harmony. It is achieved when you have enough time to dedicate to hobbies, friends, and family, get things done at work, and enjoy it without thinking about home.
It is different for everyone, but the general consensus is:
- Work doesn’t affect your home life
- Work doesn’t give you guilt or anxiety for neglecting it
- You don’t feel the need to check emails, phone messages, and work-related tasks around the clock
- Hobbies and interests outside of work are a priority in your schedule
Importance of work-life balance
Work-Life Balance is important because if you don’t achieve it, your work will take over your life and become the only thing that matters. There are many problems associated with not achieving this balance:
- Burnout or ‘Culture of Overwork’ means taking on extra tasks above what’s required by your job description to appear more dedicated to your company
- Stress affects your home life and impacts the way you spend time with friends and family
- Taking work home can cause problems in relationships, especially if you start to check emails on holidays or weekends. This is why IT departments need to have out of office messages activated or automatic replies set up so that you don’t have to worry about your absence being noticed
- If you are responsible for bringing up children, taking work home can cause you to miss important milestones in their lives.
-Not having time for interests outside of work keeps you from meeting new people and building social relationships, which are crucial for mental wellbeing.
Steps to Improve Work-Life Balance
1. Outsourcing and Delegating work
Many people find that their work starts to take over their lives due to the number of tasks on their plates. This is where outsourcing comes in; it means giving some of your tasks to someone else, either within your company or externally, so you can free up time for something else.
For instance, if you are in the HR department, you could recommend outsourcing or hiring personnel externally. This frees up your time to focus on other HR tasks you might have neglected, such as planning training sessions and developing the company curriculum. Moreover, this will also allow more time for personal life.
2. Employing work-life balance practices
There are many ways to achieve a healthy work-life balance without outsourcing, including:
- Setting boundaries with your boss so that you can take a holiday before it’s approved or start times early if you want to leave earlier on certain days
- Setting out of office messages for when you’re off sick, on holiday, or in meetings
- Arranging your schedule around when you are most productive to ensure tasks are completed when you’re at your best
3. Prioritizing work
Another way to achieve this is by learning to prioritize your tasks so that what’s urgent but unimportant is not given any attention and what’s important but not urgent is dealt with.
- Remember, you don’t have to do everything, so if something is very important and time-sensitive, it’s ok for it to be the first thing on your list – but not the only thing – so break it up into smaller tasks that can each be tackled one at a time.
4. Adopting healthy working practices
You might find that you’re always working late, go to the office on weekends and spend a lot of time checking work-related messages. This means your energy goes into what is going on at work, and not enough is spent at home or with friends and family. If this sounds like you follow these healthy practices:
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get enough sleep
- Eat healthy food regularly to keep your energy levels up at work
- Take a break from screens throughout the day. If you do this, you’ll stop yourself from getting too caught up in work-related tasks, which can be a big problem when you’re working away from the office.
5. Respecting personal boundaries
It’s important to set up boundaries with anyone who is asking you to do things, including your boss; there are some things which you will do for them and others that you won’t. For instance, if your boss asks you to stay back after work or work on weekends, it is not ok to do this unless they ask you to do something that you’ve delegated to someone else.
Weekend = time off work, not catching up on tasks!
It’s also important to respect other people’s personal boundaries; what is acceptable for one person might not be for the next, so it’s important to be mindful of this. For instance, asking your boss if you can go home early on Saturday to meet friends might not be ok, but going for a coffee with your colleagues after work might be.
As outlined above, Work-Life Balance is about spending time on what you want and need to do without neglecting important tasks. This can be achieved by taking some time out from work-related activities to focus on personal ones or outsourcing and delegating some of your more laborious tasks.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you prioritize your work activities and learn how to say no. If you follow these steps, not only will you be happier, but those around you will too.