Work-life balance is a concept we all appreciate but often struggle to achieve. It’s hard to quantify what a work-life balance even is because it’s so different for so many. Some people want to spend more time with their kids, some want to focus more on relationships, and some want to have more time in the day to pursue their interests. Some employers establish work-life balance as a rule, while others do not. Some people simply want to avoid burnout from long hours.
Work-life balance has become more important than ever, especially where maintaining your mental health is concerned. Here are a few tips that will help you maintain productivity at work while still enjoying your personal life.
Designate Your Workplace As Your Place of Work
This sounds simple, but as someone that has worked from home quite a bit, it can be tough to really draw these lines. If you work in a traditional workplace this distinction is easier. Your workplace is where you go to be productive, where you can achieve your goals without distraction.
If you work from home it can be much harder to create a space where your world is narrowed to work-related items. Creating a workspace is as simple as choosing exactly where you’re going to do work every day and sticking to that spot. Whether you’re setting up a desk in a corner somewhere, or carving out a place at the kitchen table that you come back to every day, differentiating between your workspace and your leisure space will make a huge difference in your productivity.
Your phone plays into your workspace, too, whether you view it that way or not. Taking time to set boundaries between yourself and your work email is one of the most difficult aspects of establishing a work-life balance because our phones are so available to us. It feels much easier to reply immediately to an email than to ignore it until the next morning, but when you take time out of your dinner or playtime with your kids to answer a colleague’s question, you’re taking time away from your personal life.
If your work requires you to check your email constantly, you can still set boundaries—no email during dinner, or no email right before bed.
Prioritize Your Well-being
It is entirely too tempting to go home and flop down on the couch and watch movies, and we’ll never judge you for it—exploring the media you love is absolutely a form of self-care. However, making time for self-care in other areas is important to good mental health, which trickles down into every aspect of your productivity and creativity at work.
It’s been said over and over, but exercise and other healthful activities will promote wellness in all aspects of your life. This doesn’t mean we recommend spending an hour at the gym every day—know yourself, know your habits, and do what makes you happiest. Whether that’s taking an hour out every few days for a long walk or run, dancing in your room for fifteen minutes, or heading out to the gym every day, prioritizing self-care will help you reduce work stress.
Prioritizing your mental health isn’t reserved for physical activity—engaging in therapy, making art, and spending time playing with your kids are all incredibly valuable ways to make your leisure time positive for your overall well-being.
Make Time For Yourself
Some people approach work-life balance as having the freedom to explore social avenues, and that’s okay! Having a healthy social life is crucial. However, sometimes people can overcompensate for the relationships they feel they’re missing out on at work by burning out in their personal life.
Making time to be alone and do the things that make you feel centered is extremely important. Even if it’s just reading a book for fifteen minutes before going to bed or carving out a half-hour to cook dinner. Alone time can be meditative in the sense that it helps you reset. Your mental health will thank you, and so will your friends—it’s no fun for anyone if everyone is stressed out together.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
You’re not going to get work-life balance perfect all the time. So, don’t stress out about establishing a perfect work-life balance. You won’t develop an appreciation for your leisure time if you feel obligated to carve out space for it.
Instead, focus on making small changes that bring you joy—KonMari your life, in a sense. If you’ve realized that watching the same episodes of Parks and Recreation (again, no judgment at all, we’ve all done it) doesn’t necessarily make you feel good, then reevaluate your downtime. Then again, if playing through the entirety of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is what brings you the most sense of peace at the end of your day, feel free to explore that.
There’s no perfect formula for work-life balance. Ultimately it’s about knowing yourself as an individual, not making work your life, and allowing yourself to have messy lines between things. Whether you’re self-employed, working from home, or overworked, there is always room for improvement where work-life balance is concerned.
Take your time, and let yourself enjoy the process of establishing a routine that works for you.