Are you feeling stressed or burnt out? Maybe you don’t pay enough attention to your work-life balance? 

Breaking the harmony between our work and personal lives negatively impacts both the individual and the team. According to statistics, it can decrease employee morale by 68%, reduce productivity by 36% and significantly reduce turnover. It will also make us feel stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated. Furthermore, it will impact our personal lives and relationships. 

It is important for us to accept that there is no one size that fits all when it comes to work-life balance and many factors will impact the amount of time each individual spends at work. 

The critical part is to understand your circumstances and how you feel about them. For example, if you’re constantly putting work first or working longer hours, and this makes you feel stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt-out, then you need to re-evaluate your situation. 

In addition, due to remote working, many people have seen their work-life balance threatened. However, working from home shouldn’t be an excuse to forget about work-life balance. On the contrary, it should be used as a way to achieve a better one. 

Remember that we are working from home, not living at the office.

Having a work-life balance can be challenging when we identify too much with our job. This is a bigger problem for Millenials. According to a study, 68% admit they suffer from “workism” or identify themselves through their jobs.

While our careers and professional growth are important; our personal lives, relationships and health must always be top priorities. 

Tips to achieve a better work-life balance:

Protect yours and other’s time

work-life balanceWe all know that we shouldn’t look at our emails when we are not working and switching our notifications off should be a no brainer.

Still, many of us look at work-related messages in our free time and once we see them, our minds automatically go back to work mode, disrupting our rest time. 

Changing this is ultimately up to each one of us. However, trying to leave your phone in a different room, or at least switching off your notifications, can be a good start. 

Although the ultimate decision is personal, we should avoid invading someone else’s personal time. This is even more important for company leaders and managers. 

According to research, due to remote working, 53% of the people feel they have to be available at all times.

So, we need to be conscious of other people’s time—no emails or messages after working hours. If you work at different times, you can always schedule your emails to send when you know other people are working.

Or at least you should make your expectations clear and let people know you’re not expecting them to answer or even read your email at those times. 

Use communication to identify and enhance work-life balance  

Sometimes it can be difficult to realise or even admit that we feel stressed. But we can all look for the signs of burnout. For example, binge-watching can be a sign of burnout and stress. 

Also, leaders and managers need to be conscious of their non-verbal communication. Our actions always speak louder than our words. Showing that you value work-life balance is critical. Let people know it’s ok to disconnect and that they don’t need to be available 24/7. 

Use your data right

In the same way, we can find cues of burnout from our everyday life; we can also get them from our data. For example, many companies monitor people’s computers to make sure they are working when they have to, but are rarely concerned about if they are working in their free time.

40% of employees use their devices for work outside business hours.

If you tell your employees when they have to work, you should also see the other side of the coin and make sure they are not working when they are not supposed to.

Use transition activities 

A transition activity is a task that helps you switch to relax mode. For example, a person in our team uses a transition activity at the end of the day. It allows her to put her mind at ease by reassuring herself that she did everything and it’s ok to finish. 

You can also use these types of activities within your team to make sure people switch off on weekends. For example, organising a social activity during the last 15 or 30 minutes of the Friday shift can be a great idea. This way, people know that they should finish by that time. Also, playing something together can help shift their modes to off time. 

As much as our muscles need recovery times, so do our brains. So, disconnecting on weekends is essential for our mental health and work-life balance. 

Have set work hours 

If your job requires you to be available at certain hours, setting up a schedule can be pretty straightforward but for people who can do their jobs any time, it’s still important to have a plan and define working hours. 

You can distribute those hours any way you want and organise your time according to your needs whilst still managing to have a routine. Setting work hours is vital to ensure that you don’t end up working all day every day. 

Be realistic and prioritise yourself 

work-life balanceUltimately, everyone is different and has different needs, so being self-aware and analysing the past can help you improve your work-life balance in the future. 

When you know your needs, it’s easier to prioritise them. Also, evaluating what impacted your work-life balance in the past can help you avoid making the same mistakes. 

Last but not least, we all need to learn to say no. Being truthful with your colleagues and knowing when you can’t afford to accept any more workload is key to achieve work-life balance. Leaders need to understand and set boundaries where people feel comfortable saying no when needed. 

Improve productivity 

Sometimes longer hours are due to an overload of work but it can also be due to a lack of productivity. So one way to stop overworking is to increase how productive you are. Check out our blog from last week, where we have 7 tips on how to improve productivity

The Optimist view…

We all need to find our balance, but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. We are all at different times in our lives, both personal and professional, which means our needs will vary. 

An essential take-home point when talking about work-life balance is finding the balance that works for you, even if people disagree. In the end, it’s your life, not theirs. 

What does work-life balance mean to you? And what do you do to ensure it?