Work-life balance is defined as the balance which people should have between their work life and personal life.
It is that equilibrium which ideally should exist between the time dedicated towards work and the time dedicated towards your family and for yourself.
Discussions around Work-Life balance have increased in the 21st century due to the rise in demand for employee-friendly policies at workplaces, rise in social pressure and influence of families on organizations, and even the rise in competition amongst organizations to attract the best talent.
Several employers across the world have started paying attention to the Work-Life Balance of employees to get the highest levels of productivity from their employees without causing them any burnout or stress.
Importance of Work-Life Balance
Employees want to spend more time with their families and employers want their employees to spend more time working. Both cases are justified. Employees or rather anyone can manage both if they know how to manage their work and life.
Importance of Work-Life Balance for employees
1. Family is important
We do whatever we do for our family. We study hard, work for long hours, and even suppress our wishes to make sure that our families get what they wish for.
Maintaining a work-life balance is important to ensure that we get enough time to spend with our families.
2. Maintain health: Physical, Mental and Emotional
You must have heard of the saying that “Health is the real wealth.” It is important to maintain a work-life balance to have proper health.
Working/ studying for long hours can not only impact your productivity but also impact your health. It is important to have some time for yourself and for the family to improve your health.
Work-Life balance is not only important for physical health, but also for maintaining mental and emotional health. Working too much can cause stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
3. Develop skills
You might want to learn new skills or prepare for an upcoming examination.
Working too much leaves less time for these activities. Having a healthy work-life balance can allow for preparation time for examination as well as learning new skills.
Devoting 30-60 minutes every day means 180-360 hours per year towards skills development. You can learn a new skill in around 40 hours and near-master it in around 180-200 hours.
4. Hobbies and Interests
Maintaining a balance between work and life can allow you to take out some time to pursue a hobby or develop new interests.
You might want to leave work at the office and come home with a fresh mind so that you can practice your guitar skills or watch a movie with family/ friends or develop a new hobby.
Following a similar approach like that of skill development, you can learn something new like dancing or boxing with a 100-hour practice.
Importance of Work-Life Balance for the employers
1. Improved productivity
Companies want employees who are super productive and hard working. Working for long hours at the office doesn’t guarantee high productivity and work quality. Rather long working hours can hamper employees’ performance at work and deteriorate your health.
Therefore it is in the interest of both the employee and the employer to allow for work-life balance.
2. Higher job satisfaction and low turnover
Work-life balance guarantees job satisfaction amongst employees and helps employers in retaining the best talent.
Work-Life balance is particularly important for married people who have kids and want to spend some time together as a family. A proper balance between work and life also ensures high morale amongst employees.
3. Lower health costs and absenteeism
The work-life balance amongst employees can significantly reduce the costs related to the health of employees and the potential costs related to their absence from work.
Too much work can lead to burnout amongst employees and eventually health costs for employers.
These days several organizations have policies in place to ensure that their employees have a proper work-life balance.
Organizations allow for paid leaves, allow maternity leaves, host family days, and even allow the family members to be included in the employee’s health and insurance plans.
How to achieve Work-Life Balance
Different people have different interpretations of work-life balance, but the ways to achieve it are common.
Some people want the work-life balance to learning a new hobby or skill, some want it for spending time with family, others might want it for working on a side hustle.
Work-life balance is important since the life aspect of this balance improves a person’s performance in the work aspect.
1. Leave the work at the office
Leave your work and work-related tension at the workplace. Whenever you come home, be fresh with no tension and have zero thoughts about work.
The best way to achieve work-life balance is to have a mindset that allows for that balance to exist in the first place.
Leave thoughts about work and other irrelevant issues in the workplace. However, if you are experiencing extreme stress or tension, then you should seek help. You could probably talk to your better half or parents or a counselor.
Learn more about stress management from these science-backed tips to manage stress.
2. Don’t try to be an overachiever
Don’t be an overachiever. Avoid doing extra work for which you haven’t been asked for by the superiors. Most of the time, that extra work is not looked into and it turns out to be a waste of time and energy.
3. Exercise and Meditate
While exercising and meditation won’t reduce your work, they will surely improve your body flexibility, focus, and attention. Increased attention and focus will help you in finishing your work early.
Exercising will improve your body posture and reduce your body pain, hence saving you several minutes daily which are generally wasted in stretching your back and complaining about body pain.
10-minute meditation coupled with a 5-7 minute body stretching at the office will improve your performance at work.
Learn to meditate from this Effective Guide to Meditation.
4. Don’t gossip
Gossips eat up a lot of your time and barely do any good for your professional or personal development. Avoid gossips at the workplace. Also, don’t engage in discussions that are irrelevant to your work.
Many employees take several breaks during the day for drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes or checking out social media. Avoid these breaks can save you around 30-40 minutes daily which can be spent in finishing up the work and reaching home early.
5. Manage your workspace
Keep your workplace organized to ensure that you find all the required documents and things on time. This not only applies to the workplace but also your computer desktop and your room.
Use a daily productivity planner to organize time and prioritize work.
Each minute spent daily on organizing saves several minutes spent towards searching for things and saves you from the mental stress of things getting lost.
6. Don’t over commit. Learn to say NO
Only take that much work responsibility which you can handle without experiencing extreme stress. Learn to say NO whenever you think that a particular responsibility is not relevant to you.
Keep a check of your priorities to ensure that you never engage in something which is not important to you or your career. Avoid doing unnecessary favors.
If you already have a packed week, then avoid agreeing to help your colleagues or volunteering in the neighborhood.
7. Let go of bad habits
Sometimes bad habits consume a lot of your time. Things like smoking, checking social media every now and then, and even going to colleagues for gossip takes up a lot of your time. These things never add to your productivity.
You can create work blocks of 50-55 minutes and then utilize the next 5-10 minutes to rest or chill. But the key here is to not engage in irrelevant conversations and activities.
8. Ask for help
If you have too much on your plate then you should explain the situation to your superiors or ask for help from colleagues and friends.
Doing this will reduce your workload, however, you should be prepared to return the favor to others as well.
Whenever you are at home on weekends, try a digital detox. Resist yourself from the temptation of using technology every now and then.
You can start by avoiding the use of tech for 3 hours on weekends and then make your way upwards.
The technology was created to save our time, but now it has taken over our lives and we end up spending a lot of time on it.
From checking social media to watching videos to browsing e-commerce websites, we waste a lot of time which we could rather use towards our side hustles, skill development or spending time with family.
10. Hit the breaks
If it gets super difficult to maintain the balance, then you should hit the breaks and take a vacation.
This could be a solo trip or a family vacation.
You can also plan an at-home retreat over the weekend to de-stress and rejuvenate.
11. Live near your office/ use faster mode of transport
A majority of people spend around 1 hour on the daily commute to reach office. If possible, you should try and get a place nearer to your workplace since this will free up some time for you.
If living near your office is not possible, probably due to high property rates, then you should choose a faster mode of transport to commute.
You should shift from commuting in a car to metro trains to cut down travel time, travel cost and mental stress associated with traffic, self-driving and parking.
The above-mentioned things are just basic activities which everyone should follow to improve their work-life balance. Developing these habits will take some time, but you should definitely follow these habits to save lots of time and get a shot at achieving work-life balance.
If you wish to develop a proper work-life balance, then you should adopt a healthy lifestyle and a good routine.
Misconceptions about work-life balance
- Work-Life Balance doesn’t mean more time with family.
Different people have different priorities about their time. Some people need time to learn skills, some need it for family and others need it to run a side hustle.
Maintaining work-life balance might be equally important for all of them, but they might have different goals to achieve during that time.
- Work-Life Balance doesn’t always mean more fun.
You might have to look after your old relatives or feed your neighbors cat in your free time, which might not be fun at all.
- Reducing work hours per week will not necessarily improve work-life balance.
Work-life balance is not achieved by getting more free hours every week. Rather, it depends on the quality of time which you spend doing whatever you love apart from work.
- You have to be available 24*7 to be a great leader.
You will be fine even if you utilize those 9 hours of your work effectively.
Being a great leader or manager is less about the number of hours you work and more about your effectiveness while you are at work.
- Don’t focus on the work-life balance if you want to succeed in life
Many people claim that to succeed in life, you should not focus on Work-Life balance. Instead, you should hustle and work on weekends as well just to have a good career progression.
This is completely misleading advice. Be it working at a startup or a big corporation or on your own business: you need to maintain a work-life balance to ensure that your productivity doesn’t fall and that you don’t burnout in the process.
Work-Life balance depends on your priorities. You always have time to do whatever you wish to do, you just have to cut back on certain non-productive activities on a daily basis. Also, work-life balance is not a sign of a successful and fulfilled life.
Several people place work-life balance aside in the earlier stages of their careers. While this might turn out to be positive for their future career, but can severely impact their health.
You should also participate in Employee Wellness Programs at the workplace to improve your Health, Fitness, and Wellness. These wellness programs also allow families of employees to participate.
This article has laid down some very basic activities which everyone should do to save time and achieve work-life balance. All the best to you for your journey to achieve work-life balance.
I hope that you develop some of the above-mentioned habits to achieve a healthy work-life balance.