Do you feel like work has taken priority over everything else in your life? It may feel like there’s a constant battle to keep up with work deadlines, maintain responsibilities at home, and still have time for the things that are important to you.
It’s a good thing to work hard and have a desire to succeed professionally. Yet, creating a harmonious work-life balance is critical to improving not only our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, but research shows that it’s also vital to succeed professionally.
Creating a healthy balance can be challenging. That is why I’ve put together actionable steps to begin progressing toward a more balanced personal and professional life.
What Exactly Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is a concept that describes the ideal situation in which an individual can split their time and energy between work and other important aspects of their life.
When you hear “work-life balance,” you may imagine having an extremely productive day at work and then leaving work behind to spend the rest of your day with family and friends. Or you may imagine maintaining a job while also having time for personal endeavors like travel.
Work-life balance can look different for each individual based on circumstances and priorities.
So how can we stop allowing work to take precedence over everything else and progress toward balance?
How Can You Progress Toward Work-Life Balance?
1. Answer this question: what are your priorities?
Priorities are defined as “things that are regarded as more important than other things”.
Your priorities are the things that matter the most to you. They’re the things in life that are most deserving of your time and energy.
The thing is that not EVERYTHING can be a priority at the same time. You may have heard the quote:
“If everything is important, then nothing is.” - Patrick Lencioni
This means that if you spread your time and energy too thin then you won’t be able to give the attention you need to the most important aspects of your life. By setting clear priorities for yourself, you ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the things that matter most.
Identifying your priorities will help you on your journey to living more intentionally.
If you haven’t truly sat down and thought about your priorities, I encourage you to do it now! Listing your top priorities in your daily life is a great exercise that can bring you clarity. These questions can be helpful in defining your priorities:
In addition, you can use these worksheets I’ve created to help you to gain clarity:
The point here is to see where your time is going visually and what is lacking the most. Now that you have a good visual, set some goals for how you will make some adjustments in your life. How can you currently bring better balance?
2. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
Cutting ties with work allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge.
You can achieve this by creating non-negotiable working hours.
Give yourself a strict start and ending time. It’s not going to be easy, especially if you are working fro home. Make sure to give yourself time to form a new habit and step away from the laptop. Try adding your working hours to your calendar AND set an alarm to stop yourself from unintentionally working overtime.
3. Prioritize your physical and mental health.
Your overall physical, emotional and mental health should be your main concern. If you struggle with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you, fit those sessions into your schedule. Prioritizing your health first and foremost will help you in all areas of life. Prioritizing your health doesn’t have to consist of extreme activities. It can be as simple as daily meditation or exercise.
4. Place your phone aside.
If your phone is ALWAYS in your hand, you’re making it way too easy to check your texts and email. Once you tap on that Gmail icon, you’ll quickly get sucked back into the vortex of after-hours work. Better yet, turn off notifications altogether and only check your phone a few times a day. This can help to eliminate distractions so you can focus on what’s important.
5. Learn to say “no”
Saying no at work isn’t always easy, but it is possible. And, being able to turn down requests is an essential skill if you hope to achieve a work-life balance.
There are a lot of different ways to say no at work, even if you’re talking to your boss. One way to do this is to say, “I would love to take that on. Can we review my workload and decide what I should de-prioritize to fit that in?”. By doing this, your employer will have a moment to review everything that’s on your plate and decide whether this new task is a priority.
Recognize that limiting the scope of your responsibilities helps you to complete projects to the best of your ability.
Bonus! Try a Post-Work Meditation
If you’re looking for a better work-life balance, taking time to consciously let go of whatever may have happened during the day is a great step. A post-work meditation acts has a reset after work to cleanse your mind. Here are a couple to try: Unwind After Work Meditation, 5-Minute After Work Practice.
Work-Life Balance is Achievable
It’s important to remember that some periods of your life may be imbalanced, and that’s okay. Some days or weeks, you might focus more on work while other days you might have more time for family and your hobbies. Balance is achieved over time, not each day. It is important to remain fluid and regularly assess how you are spending your time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to share with a mental health professional. We can help you to reflect and create an action plan to achieve a better balance. If you would like to speak with a professional, please reach out to schedule an appointment.
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