“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles” — Zig Ziglar.
When many employees began working from home during the pandemic, separating job duties and family responsibilities became more challenging than ever. 60% of Americans said they had a poor work-life balance due to no boundaries between family and work.
Moreover, BBC research shows that people working more than 54 hours per week are at a high risk of dying from overwork.
The importance of work-life balance cannot be overstated.
To help you strike a good balance between your personal and work life, we’ll share five tips to improve your work-life balance.
- What is a good work-life balance?
- Work-life balance tips
- 1. Schedule your time wisely by auditing your to-do list.
- 2. Manage your workload by enforcing breaks for each workday.
- 3. Encourage your employees to use their vacation time effectively.
- 4. Separate your professional and personal life physically.
- 5. Make space in your schedule to spend time with your loved ones.
- Final thoughts: 5 tips about work-life balance you can’t afford to miss.
What is a good work-life balance?
Work-life balance is where you equally prioritize the demands of your career and personal life.
But a good work-life balance is getting stuff done in your professional life and still having time to enjoy your personal life. For example, you might have days where you work long hours to enjoy other activities later in the week.
Most of us are guilty of allowing work emails to infiltrate our evenings and prevent us from making time to pursue our passions. Or, on the flip side, watching Netflix rather than actively gaining the skills to advance our careers.
Although we might have poor work-life habits, 51% of employees consider work-life balance the most important organizational attribute. So that’s a plus.
A good work-life balance has many positive effects, including a lower risk of burnout, less stress, and a stronger sense of well-being.
Work-life balance tips
- Schedule your time wisely by auditing your to-do list.
- Manage your workload by enforcing breaks for each workday.
- Encourage your employees to use their vacation time effectively.
- Separate your professional and personal life physically.
- Make space in your schedule to spend time with your loved ones.
Let’s explore each of these tips in detail.
1. Schedule your time wisely by auditing your to-do list.
Time is the most important factor to consider when improving your work-life balance.
You may have to deal with dozens of tasks in a day, and you might forget other crucial things in life. But if you intentionally audit your to-do list, you’ll make sure you’re working efficiently. Minor hiccups won’t overpower your resolve to have an excellent work-life balance.
A 2021 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the average American employee spends two hours per day recovering from distractions.
So, instead of checking off one item and getting three more added to a never-ending to-do list, focus on the high-impact activities and reduce those that don’t drive significant results.
Good time management can have a significant payoff. To help you prioritize your tasks so that the most important items blend perfectly into your work hours, you can draw an Impact/Effort Matrix.
That four-by-four chart lists all your work-related tasks on scales related to the effort needed to complete each job and the impact each task creates.
Doing that lets you know if your to-do list is worth the time it takes to complete. You can then decide if you should delegate, improve efficiency, stop, or keep going.
2. Manage your workload by enforcing breaks for each workday.
If you’re working on large projects or long to-do lists, you may be tempted to work late or on weekends to achieve more. But it’s essential to set hard stops so you don’t overwork yourself.
Why? According to the World Health Organization, people who work 55 or more hours per week have a 35% increased risk of stroke and a 17% increased risk of dying from heart disease.
Yes — employers value workers who take the initiative and go above and beyond when needed. But your personal life is crucial to your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being
For instance, Ryoichi Fujiwara, a professor at the University of Arkansas, experienced physical symptoms from overworking. She lost 22 pounds, couldn’t sleep, was never hungry, and worked every weekend.
But here’s the good news:
She set regular work hours and avoided overtime at her doctor’s advice to combat the harmful symptoms. Ryoichi also started exercising regularly, and after a few months, her appetite returned. She has preserved a healthier work-life balance since.
Here are tips to help you set hard stops for each workweek to ensure you’re balancing your career and personal life:
- Set boundaries and accept that a task is usually not that important, and it can wait until tomorrow.
- Manage expectations about how much you can get done during business hours.
- Set calendar appointments for lunch, midday workouts, or a walk when working remotely.
3. Encourage your employees to use their vacation time effectively.
The work-life balance of those working for you also matters. Remember, vacation time is a right, not a privilege.
In 2021, 34% of private industry workers got 10 to 14 days of paid vacation after one year of service.
There can be a negative perception of taking vacation days even in organizations that encourage taking leave. So, enable your staff to use their paid time off or parental leave, even when things are busy. That will tremendously improve their work-life balance.
That said, many employees find it hard to request the vacation time or flexible hours they need face-to-face. So encourage them to use an employee app such as Blink to make such requests. That may make it easier for them to ask for their earned paid time off.
Make sure that time off is really time off. Respect your employees’ vacation time and trust that they’ll catch up fast when they return.
Emergencies do happen, and sometimes it might be necessary to contact an employee on vacation. But promote a healthy work-life balance by setting the expectation that no one should be working on vacation.
4. Separate your professional and personal life physically.
Believe it or not, we were already mixing our work and personal lives way before the pandemic crisis happened.
In a 2019 study, RescueTime shared that only 74% of work was done during regular working hours, meaning that on average, people took 26% of the work to their homes. For the work they brought home, they did 71% of it mainly in the evening and night and 29% on weekends.
It’s even more challenging if you regularly work from home. It’s easy to get things done during the day but then feel like you’ve wasted your time and now have to work later at night. But setting boundaries for yourself and sticking to a routine will help you avoid that trap.
For example, you can set your first work chunk from 7:00 AM until noon. Then take a break from noon to 2:00 PM, followed by the last work block from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
In addition, here’s what you can do to separate your professional and personal life physically:
- Try setting aside an entire workspace in your home. Writing memos when spending time with your loved ones or taking calls from your bed is unlikely to be effective. You need a space that enables you to focus and be productive. That way, you can keep that work-family balance in check.
- Make a schedule and routine to set boundaries for what you do during the day. A program with vague boundaries will cause you to start working at odd hours.
- If possible, schedule all your meetings to happen over two or three days to leave some days open to work on demanding projects.
5. Make space in your schedule to spend time with your loved ones.
While your career is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. Before taking up a job, you were an individual, and you should prioritize your family and the hobbies that make you happy.
The Independent reported survey results that showed U.K. families spend only four hours of quality time together each week. Moreover, 63% of adults wish they spent more time with their families but admit that life gets in the way.
To spend quality time together, working parents need to prioritize that time. Make sure you’re all on the same page, and you’re all taking the necessary steps to carve out that time.
Schedule romantic and family dates. It may seem strange to plan one-on-one time with people you live with, but it will help you spend enough time with them without work-family conflicts.
It’s also important to realize that no one at your organization will love or appreciate you the way your loved ones do. And no matter how crucial you think your job is, the company will likely not miss a beat if you’re gone tomorrow.
Final thoughts: 5 tips about work-life balance you can’t afford to miss.
Striking a good balance between work and your personal life is the best thing you can do for your mental and physical health long-term.
For business owners, remember your employees follow your lead. If they don’t see you intentionally managing your work-life balance, chances are they won’t do it either.
Embracing a good work-life balance will send a solid message that your company promotes a work environment that helps employees succeed at work and home.
Balanced employees will always be more productive. Put an internal communications plan in place to make it easier for your staff to request vacation time to help them achieve a proper work-life balance.
Blink can help you do that. Give the free trial a shot today.