Work like a dog and forget the rest
Despite the efforts of many nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of this issue and help employees find this kind of balance, tiring yourself out at work is still considered the hallmark of a “loyal” employee, or at least to most business leaders. In fact, a lot of them still believe that the ideal employee for them is one that prioritizes work over their personal lives. To them, a “hardworking” employee is one that has very little social life, few personal commitments, and doesn’t go back home until way after the end of the workday.
But this begs the question: does it have to be this way? Should being good at your job translate to having little to no family, personal, or social life? The short answer is, no. You can actually be a great employee without needing to sacrifice your personal time with yourself, family, or friends.
Today, we’ll show you how you can slowly start creating that balance for yourself.
How to Achieve Work–Life Balance
Understand what you need to feel that balance
It’s easy to think achieving work–life balance is this concept that comes with a three-step process. You’re probably reading this now and realizing that better work–life balance is just what you need to have a higher-quality life. But here’s the thing: improving work–life balance will look different from one person to another. This is why there is no concrete way to achieve this, and you’re going to have to go through a long process of trial and error before you finally reach that point.
So to get you on the path of finding that work–life balance that you seek, you need to first ask yourself: what does the ideal work–life balance look like for me? Is spending more time with your kids? Hanging out with your friends more often? Taking more time for yourself on weekends? Not working overtime so often? Define what that balance looks like for you and go after it.
Know where to focus your energy
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Once you have some idea of what a perfect work–life balance would like for you, this is where you start the trial-and-error process we talked about earlier. This article by McKinsey’s staff members explains the intriguing concept of “energy.”
According to the article, you have to care where you put most (or less!) of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. Paying attention to the little signals your body sends you in the midst of stressful times can tell you what you need at that moment. If you’re constantly feeling jittery at work, take five minute breaks in between to just walk around and move to release that pent up energy. If you’re feeling physically fine but lonely, maybe giving a friend or someone you trust a call will help with that.
The first step in recognizing and managing these types of energy is to first accept that you won’t always feel your best, and taking small steps towards giving yourself the boost in energy that you need. Maybe giving yourself some time to meditate in the morning before work will give you back the mental energy you need to do your job right, or maybe it’s donating to a local charity to give your life more meaning and purpose (gaining back spiritual energy!).
Learn to take your vacations and weekends just as seriously
Have you had your work phone ring in the middle of an outing with friends or a family gathering? Maybe you’re just minding your own business at home, enjoying a book or movie and you get an email notification from a colleague. You immediately drop what you’re doing and get to it, right? Then maybe it’s time you start prioritizing your personal time off as much as you do work.
One way you can do this is by planning ahead of time. Make a list of the tasks you need to finish before your vacation starts, and another list of tasks that can wait just until after you’re back. Also make it clear to people at work that you won’t be receiving any calls or responding to any emails while you’re away.
Make it your core value
If you want to achieve work–life balance, you need to turn it into a solid core value. Values are hard to let go of, and no matter what, you don’t compromise on them. Turning this into a value that you won’t let go of will make it more likely for you to achieve that balance and stick to it.