6 Steps to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

three sticky notes (left to right: work, balance, life) balancing on a seesaw

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Work-life balance. We’ve all heard of it. It’s a kind of white whale, a mythical state of being, of careers that call 100% of your attention. Any time it’s brought up in conversation, it’s not uncommon to hear a sarcastic, “What is work-life balance, even?” paired with a dismissive shrug. When you’re succeeding in your career, life typically takes a backseat. But did you know that only prioritizing your career can be bad for your health, reduce productivity, and can become costly in the long run? Here are some common signs of poor work-life balance, as well as six steps to improve your work-life balance so you can keep rocking at what you do.

What Is Work-Life Balance and Why Is It Important?

Let’s start with a blunt definition, shall we? 

Work-life balance is a state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. 

Fairly straightforward, right? Good! Here’s why it’s important.

A healthy work-life balance has many benefits, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout, and a greater sense of overall well-being. It can even save your business money when your company’s morale is high with less absenteeism and enjoy a more loyal, productive team. 

What Are the Signs of Poor Work-Life Balance?

You stop taking care of your body.

You’re staying up late, not sleeping through the night. You’re sitting all day but not exercising. You choose poor, unhealthy foods from fast food joints or the vending machine. You may even feel that you’re too busy to make time to visit the doctor, even when you have a health concern

Your mental health is deteriorating.

You begin to notice signs of anxiety or depression. You find yourself more irritable and angry even though you’re normally an easygoing person. You may be experiencing feelings of dread, restlessness, hopelessness, panic attacks, mood swings, and maybe even thoughts of suicide.

You just don’t care anymore.

Your work no longer feels meaningful or fulfilling. You feel disconnected from your colleagues and clients. You’re just going through the motions.

You feel incompetent.

No matter what you do, it never feels like it’s enough. You always find yourself behind on your projects and the quality of your work may suffer. You constantly worry about your job performance. You fear (but may also secretly daydream about) getting fired.

You have no boundaries between work and home.

You’re working longer and longer hours. You can’t take time off without getting calls, texts, or emails from work; you feel like you have to be available around the clock. 

You’re lonely.

Your relationships begin to suffer. Although you may have people around you all the time and are constantly connected electronically, you no longer have the time or energy for meaningful interactions with your family and friends. 

Phew, that’s some heavy stuff. But don’t worry...

Here Are 6 Steps to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

You can’t work at your best if you’re not functioning at your best. 

Accept that there is no 'perfect' work-life balance.

Don’t strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one. Some days, you might focus more on work, while other days you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with your loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not each day.

Find a job that you love.

Although work is an expected societal norm, your career shouldn’t be restraining. If you hate what you do, you aren’t going to be happy, plain and simple. You don’t need to love every aspect of your job, but it needs to be exciting enough that you don’t dread getting out of bed every morning.

Disconnect when you’re at home.

This sounds obvious but it’s key to establishing some boundaries. Turn off your phone or mute your notifications with preset working hours. Constantly checking for updates raises your stress levels, interferes with your personal relationships, and negatively impacts your sleep.

Be more efficient at work.

It’s easy to fall into the multitasking trap. But did you know that constantly switching between tasks reduces your effectiveness? This yields less awesome work than what you could produce if you were to tackle one project at a time. Instead, focus on one thing at a time until it’s complete. To help with distractions, close your email and turn off your phone (or set it to “do not disturb”). 

Prioritize self-care.

Book time for exercise into your schedule and stick to it. Choose and plan for nutritious meals, as well as quality time with your family and friends. Treat these tasks as meetings that you cannot miss or else your boss — you — will be ticked.

Get professional help.

Sometimes having the perspective of someone who is completely detached from you is the most helpful feedback. So, if the stress is becoming too much and is negatively affecting your mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist. You can also reach out to your HR department about any assistance plans that are available to you.

A Friendly Reminder from Siva Creative

You’re never alone. Chances are someone close to you has either gone through a similar experience or is currently working through the same issues. Take some time to use these six steps to improve work-life balance (in any order) for yourself, your business, your loved ones because you deserve it, you powerhouse!

If you’re looking for business-related positivity, we have a blog just for you! We talk about companies that are making waves in their industries since 2020, even during this economical shutdown caused by COVID-19.

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