What You Can Do to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Approximately 41 percent of Canadians who work full-time say that it’s hard for them to achieve a good sense of work-life balance. Do these statistics resonate with you? Do you struggle to balance your job, your family responsibilities, and your social obligations?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for some helpful tips on how you can improve your work-life balance.

Why Does Work-Life Balance Matter?

Work Life Balance

These days, a lot of people are workaholics. They feel a lot of pressure to always be “on” and available to their bosses and colleagues.

A lot of people struggle to keep up with this work-first mentality. At the same time, though, there are also plenty of people who wonder why they should be striving for a good sense of work-life balance? They might question how they’re supposed to rise to the top and be the best if they take time off and focus on other things.

If you fall into the latter category, remember that a balance between work life and personal life offers many benefits, including the following:

Less Stress

A study recently published by the World Health Organization reveals that workplace stress and long work hours are negatively impacting people’s health. In some cases, these issues are even leading to premature death.

Are you constantly worrying about projects and assignments, even when you’re technically off the clock? If so, the effects of this stress (elevated cortisol, poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, etc.) can contribute to a wide range of chronic health problems. This list may include hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

When you set clear boundaries between work and home life, you’ll have an easier time managing your stress and will be less susceptible to these serious health conditions.

Better Mental Health

Reducing your stress doesn’t just improve your physical health and reduce your risk of chronic conditions. It also improves your mental health.

Approximately 5.4 percent of Canadians are affected by major depression, and 4.6 percent are affected by anxiety disorders. People who are constantly stressed and overworked are more likely to struggle with these mental health challenges than those who are able to maintain a balance between work responsibilities and their personal lives.

Poor mental health is not ideal for those who want to perform well at their jobs and be great employees. If you’re always on edge or feeling depressed and hopeless, you’re not setting yourself up to put your best foot forward, are you?

Better Relationships

If you’re like most Canadians, you probably don’t have the option in your life to just not work and spend all your time with your loved ones. That’s not a realistic expectation. However, working all the time and always being on the clock isn’t realistic, either, nor is it good for your relationships with friends and family.

When you have clearly established working hours and detach yourself from your job at the end of the day, it’s easier to give your loved ones the attention and time they deserve. This, in turn, will help you to foster stronger connections and build longer-lasting relationships.

Increased Engagement

People who manage their stress and have a good sense of work-life balance tend to be more engaged at work than those who are overworked and burned out.

You may be able to get away with placing all your focus on work and being available at all hours for a while. At a certain point, though, your mind and body are going to stop functioning as well as they once did, and you may struggle to pay attention while on the job. You might also find that you’re making more mistakes and that the quality of your work is suffering because you’re mentally drained and exhausted.

By taking regular breaks and setting boundaries around your work, you can ensure that when you do show up, you’re well-rested and ready to tackle whatever’s on your to-do list for the day.   

Increased Creativity

Not only will you be more engaged at work when you improve your work-life balance, but you’ll also likely find that you’re more creative.

Think about it. Is it easy for you to come up with new ideas and unique solutions to problems when you’re running on empty because you’ve been working at all hours?

Probably not.

When you give your brain a break and do other, non-work-related things, you’ll find that it’s easier for you to look at things from different perspectives and flex your creativity muscles while on the job.  

Increased Productivity

Finally, those who have a better work-life balance are actually more productive than those who are constantly overworked and don’t have clear boundaries.

When you come into the office feeling refreshed after an evening or weekend off, you’ll likely have a greater sense of motivation. This, in turn, can help you to get more done and use your time more wisely. After all, you won’t feel that you need to take as many breaks during the day if you’re rested and recharged.

People who have a good sense of work-life balance tend to have better attendance at work, too. If you’re showing up every day and you’re putting your best foot forward, you’ll be able to get things done faster and will be less likely to fall behind.

How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

When you improve your work-life balance, you make improvements in many other areas of your life. How do you achieve this, though? Where should you begin?

The following are some good strategies you can implement today to start creating a better work-life balance:

Practice Saying “No”

Say No to over-working

Believe it or not, you don’t have to say “yes” to everything your boss or colleagues ask of you. If you don’t have time to take on another task, or if you don’t think you’re the right fit for a specific project, it’s okay to say “no” and let someone else take it on.

It’s understandable that you want to say “yes” to make your boss and colleagues happy and help the company run smoothly. If you say “yes” to everything, though, you’ll end up overworked while also underperforming.   

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

You can say “no,” but that doesn’t mean you have to leave work undone. Don’t be afraid to delegate and let someone else on your team take something on.

Delegating and asking for help benefits you because it lightens your load and allows you to focus on the tasks that matter most or that you are best equipped to handle. It also benefits your colleagues because it gives them a chance to step up to the plate and tackle something they might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

Prioritize Your To-Do List

If you’re not sure which tasks you need to delegate and which ones you can handle on your own, set aside some time each day or week to prioritize your to-do list.

Look at everything you need to get done and ask yourself which tasks are the most important. Then, ask yourself which tasks must be completed by you and which ones can be completed by someone else on your team.

The answers to these two questions will help you figure out what needs to be delegated and what you need to focus on.

Take Breaks

Not taking breaks during the workday doesn’t make you a superhuman. In reality, it can actually lead to subpar work and a greater risk of burnout.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the head of a department or a brand new junior employee. You deserve to take breaks and recharge your brain.

Stepping away from your computer and taking a breather will help you to refocus and become a better problem solver. It will also make it easier for you to stay alert, especially when the dreaded mid-afternoon slump rolls around.

Use Your Lunch Break

Use your lunch break to eat lunch and eat lunch only.

Don’t sit at your desk and shovel down a salad while you’re also reading a report or making plans for a new project. Turn down working lunch meetings.

Instead, use that time to nourish yourself, get some extra energy, and get prepared for the second half of your day.

When you work while you eat, you’re most likely going to be creating extra stress for yourself. This, in turn, puts your body into a “fight or flight” state and holds up the digestive process. For a lot of people, eating in a “fight or flight” state means they’re going to have a stomachache, heartburn, or other digestive issues later.

Set Clear Office Hours

Do you have colleagues who like to send emails or chat requests at all hours? Do they expect you to respond right away, even when you’re out of the office?

To avoid feeling pressure to respond and constantly be checking your phone, be sure to set clear office hours.

Let people know when you’re available, at stick to that schedule. Consider using an email autoresponder to send a clear message when you’re off the clock, too.

Ask for Flexibility

Is your current schedule is starting to cause feelings of burnout? Are you struggling to keep up with personal obligations while also getting to work on time and leaving at a reasonable hour?

If this is the case, you may need to ask for some extra flexibility. Consider asking your boss if you can work from home a few days per week or ask if you can come to work later so you have more time to get your kids out the door in the morning.

Prioritize Your Health

Exercising at home

It’s much easier for you to be an engaged, productive employee and an engaged, attentive family member or friend when you’re taking care of your health.

“Health” looks different on everyone, but the following are some good rules of thumb that help you ensure you have the energy you need to juggle work and life effectively:

  • Regularly eating balanced, nutritious meals
  • Exercising at least 3 times per week
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night
  • Drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day

Practice Self-Compassion

Be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion. Often, we are our own worst critics. It’s okay if you’re feeling stressed or struggling to maintain a balance between work and your personal life.

Remember that improving your work-life balance is a long-term practice. It takes time to change the way you approach things and develop new habits.

Celebrate your wins (when you delegate a task to someone else, when you stick to your office hours, etc.) and learn from your mistakes (when you answer emails outside of work or take a meeting during your lunch break).

Communicate Struggles and Boundaries

In the same way that it’s okay to say “no” and delegate to your colleagues, it’s also okay to communicate your struggles to your bosses and team members. Let them know which issues you’re dealing with and ask for advice on how you can overcome those challenges.

Be sure to communicate your boundaries, too. If you need to leave by a certain time or can’t respond to emails on the weekend, let everyone know. This helps to prevent confusion and sets a good example for others at your company.

Invest in Relationships

When you’re outside of the office, focus on your relationships. Be present while talking to your spouse or hanging out with your kids. Don’t be listening to them with one ear while responding to texts or reading emails.

When you invest in your relationships, you’ll find them more fulfilling and won’t feel that you’re missing out on important opportunities with your loved ones. Even if you have a job that requires you to work long hours, you can still be present and attentive during the time you have with your family and friends. It’s about quality, not quantity.

Make Your Work-Life Balance Better Today

Are you ready to take back your life and establish a greater sense of balance? Start following these tips today so you can improve your work-life balance and enjoy a higher quality of life.