Work-Life Balance Is a Commitment, Not an Accomplishment
We all understand that being overworked isn’t good for employees or their companies they work for— and yet, it can be hard to overcome unhealthy work habits and reach a sustainable work-life balance.
A lot of us spend too much time at work every once in a while, and despite the resounding evidence that working long hours can be harmful to both employees and employers, many professionals still struggle to overcome their beliefs and their habits around work hours. What does it take to rid yourself from these unhealthy work behaviours and reach a more sustainable, rewarding work-life balance?
Pause and reflect
Take a step back and ask yourself: What is currently causing me stress? How are these circumstances affecting how I perform my job? How are they impacting my personal life? What am I prioritizing? What am I sacrificing? Only after you take a pause to acknowledge these questions can you begin to tackle them.
Of course, many of us don’t take the time to stop and reflect, but it is possible to take a pause and start rethinking your priorities at any time. Taking the time to think through these questions and acknowledge the tradeoffs you’ve made (whether intentional or not) is helpful for anyone looking to discover alternative ways of working and living while avoiding workplace burnout.
Pay attention to your emotions
Once you’ve increased your awareness about your current situation, examine how that situation makes you feel. Ask yourself, do I feel satisfied or do I feel angry, resentful, sad, stressed?
A rational understanding of the decisions and priorities driving your life is important, but equally important is your emotional wellbeing and the ability to recognize how a situation is making you feel. Awareness of your emotional state is essential in order to determine the changes you want to make in your work and in your life.
Reflection and paying attention to your emotions give you the tools you need to put things into perspective and determine how your priorities need to be adjusted. Ask yourself: What am I willing to sacrifice and for how long? If I have been prioritizing work over family, for example, why do I feel that it is important to prioritize my life in this way? What regrets do I already have, and what will I regret if I continue along my current path?
As human beings, our priorities often shift making it vital to revisit our priorities on a regular basis. Striking the right balance isn’t a once-and-done scenario. Assess your life-work balance every few months to make sure you are not tipping too far in one direction. A more positive work-life balance intentionally reprioritized will lead to spending your time how in a way that lines up with your true priorities.
Attain a healthier body and mind
Getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well can have a real benefit on your general health. Feeling healthy can directly impact your productivity at work and help you keep your commitment to a work-life balance. Practicing this kind of self-care will help you enjoy life and be prepared to tackle those stress work and personal situations which will set you up nicely for a balanced life.
Finally, once you’ve recognized your priorities and considered what will help you stay committed to work-life balance, it’s time to make changes. Action can take the form of a public change such as taking on a new role which will directly impact your colleagues’ expectations of you or a private change such as informally changing your work patterns.
Making public and private changes can be effective strategies, as long as they’re implemented in way you can sustain. For private changes that might mean self-imposing boundaries like not working into the evening, on weekends or on holidays. For public changes that might mean simply telling your supervisor that you want a new role or flexible working hours which is likely to result in more lasting change.
Remember, the steps outlined above are not a one-time activity, by rather a continuous re-evaluation and improvement. It can be easy to slide back to business-as-usual, so in order to achieve real change, you have to be committed to continuously remember to pause, connect with your emotions, rethink your priorities, evaluate your options, and implement changes in both your personal and professional lives.