How do you maintain a healthy work life balance? What a tricky question.
Continually facing the increasing demands of the modern professional sphere is causing people to become consumed by their work. Last year as many as 64% of full-time employees surveyed in Canada felt “very stressed” or “moderately stressed” at the end of the work day; 44% reported working outside of normal hours to finish projects; and 33% reported feelings of depression because of work. (Amanat, 2023) It’s clear that for the vast majority of people work takes up too large a part of the routine that rules their lives; it’s also clear to me that balance is the key to solving this problem.
It can be difficult to avoid the temptation to bring work home, however, work/life balance is about more than just dividing your work and personal life. More than anything it’s about setting and maintaining boundaries.
The easiest boundary to set, as mentioned, is sticking to set hours for work and leisure. For those who work in person and with fixed hours this then becomes a question of discipline and healthy habits. Working variable hours or from home means you face more challenges when it comes to separating work and leisure time and maintaining productivity, however, this doesn’t cause any loss of potential.
Arguably the thing that affects our productivity the most is your surroundings. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice a million times before but ask anyone who’s followed it and you’ll hear the results speak for themselves. Being comfortable and separating yourself from distractions. Creating separate physical spaces for work and relaxation goes a long way. Just make sure you maintain them!
Our brains are built to function based on habits, and paying attention to your routines is a great way to feel the benefits of following good routines while improving on habits we want to fix. Turning off work notifications at a certain time and sticking to your “do not disturb” hours is a good place to start. Regular exercise, eating, and sleep are also incredibly important.
Another thing, when I say “you time” I also mean setting aside time for things that make you feel passionate and interested in life. Hobbies relax and rejuvenate the mind and promote creativity. Remember:
Self-care is not selfish!
Work is one half of the work/life balance that often gets overlooked so in this next part I’ll take some time to talk about tips for the workplace.
Using day-planning techniques such as time-blocking to structure your day is a good way to get a picture of your day and decide the pace for your work. This can also be a handy tool that can hold you accountable to your deadlines. Avoid multitasking at all costs, it just adds stress and reduces productivity.
Breaking up your work on larger projects by finishing smaller tasks like responding to emails helps to maintain momentum and gives a sense of accomplishment to the day.
It’s important to remember to take breaks at work. Even working in an office or at home our bodies suffer from fatigue. This is why it's doubly important to make sure exercise is a part of your daily routine. Standing, stretching, or taking a short walk to get a glass of water or juice can also help break up work on larger projects and allow you to reflect away from your workspace.
Overall, here’s are my best pieces of advice:
Be bold; don’t be afraid to try something new, be it a new sport or hobby, a new desk layout, or another flavour of your favorite brand tea.
Be kind to yourself; change can leave you beating yourself up for past habits, enjoy the fact you’re building better ones while benefiting from the results, and if you ever find yourself lingering, reflect on how your brain builds habits.
And lastly; be patient.
Change takes time, but pay close attention and watch the results come quickly.
Amanat, H. (2023, April 12). About half of Canadians working full-time feel fatigued: Survey. CTVNews. https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/about-half-of-canadians-working-full-time-feel-fatigued-survey-1.6353189#:~:text=As%20many%20as%2064%20per,task%20in%20the%20past%20year.