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In the 21st century, work-life balance is a popular concept, a common aspiration and an impactful lifestyle choice. It’s the kind of thing we all want to attain yet find difficulty mastering.
The idea itself is simple - find a healthy balance between working life and home life, so each aspect of your world receives the focus and the attention it deserves. The reality, however, is a little more complicated. While it sounds like a delightful notion and achievable upfront, maintaining it throughout a busy week is another issue; a block in an otherwise smooth road to success.
The work gets bigger, the hours get longer, the boss gets angrier, the deadlines tighter and suddenly your remaining hours in the day leave little room for precious family time or personal hobbies, let alone time by yourself to quietly rejuvenate. But there’s no questioning its importance, and time and time again studies dictate both its relevance in modern society and the positive influence it can have over careers and key relationships.
It’s believed that those who are able to create stability within work and personal initiatives will ultimately lead happier and more productive lives, so though it can be a struggle to incorporate work-life balance on a daily basis, there’s no doubt it’s a good practice for the soul. And frankly, our bodies can’t function properly unless we find an even ground.
Life comes with enough stresses and fleeting anxieties as it is, so take a load off the ‘go, go, go’ mentality or the late nights in the office and read some top tips for achieving, and maintaining, work-life balance.
1. Create a routine and stick with it
Find a schedule that works with your everyday life and be realistic. Not every day will be the same, and things will ultimately have to change in some respect, but try and allot certain times for work, interests and your nearest and dearest – oh, and try to stick to it as best as you can. If you fail, try again, or do something different. It can also help to evaluate the time you lose in the in-between, from mindless browsing to addictive gaming apps. Tools like TimeIvy can help you to monitor that wasteful time and assess your natural habits, so you can establish a routine that benefits all areas of your life.
2. Don’t leave vacation days behind
Your vacation days are meant to be used, and that doesn’t mean you need to spend all of them on expensive, lengthy holidays. Use them for the things you’re interested in or to invest more energy into the people who are important to you. These days are also in place so that you can take a natural and necessary break when you need it. You won’t do your finest work anyway if you’re burnt out and scattered all over the place.
3. When you’re sick, take a sick day
The body gets run down for all kinds of reasons, but stress and pressure are leading culprits. So, listen to your body when it tells you that you need a break. Take a sick day when you’re sick and rest up when you’re feeling fatigued.
4. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no can do’
For the people-pleasers and the ‘easy life’ enthusiasts, just say NO – when it makes sense to. There are occasions when it’s just not possible to achieve something within the timeline you’re supposed to, and since you’re just one person, don’t let anyone guilt you into anything you logistically can’t accomplish or is affecting your personal life. If you always say yes, it will impact everything else and muddle a clear mind. Learn that sometimes, it’s ok to turn things down.
5. Get your sleep on
Sleep, as we all know, plays an integral role in our mental and physical health. And when it comes to work-life balance, it’s at the top of the list. Make time for rest and train yourself to get a good nights’ sleep as much as possible. Try reading a book or turning the TV off an hour before lights out, it will help you wind down. You should also know how many hours of sleep you need to truly feel refreshed – adhere to that regularly and build it into your schedule.
6. Make time for your interests
Our interests are part of our purpose and our purpose is part of our being. So, leave yourself time in the evenings or weekends to do the hobbies and activities that mean something to you. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, where possible. Make time for it.
7. Be present
Spending dedicated time with loved ones is a huge part of your happiness. We’re social beings, even when we feel like we aren’t, and it’s that section of life that deserves a lot of attention. When you are with those people, be present and value the time away from work duties.
Whatever it is that gets you to a place of work-life balance, know that it will be worthwhile. Falling into unhealthy patterns or overworking yourself can burden other, perhaps more important, components of life, and it will promote unproductive patterns.
When you’re grey and old, your body, mind and relationships will thank you for taking the time to incorporate this essential way of life. So, try to make small, but necessary changes now. You’ll be glad you did.