VIEWPOINT: Finding work-life balance is critical
Do you feel like all you do is work? Do you feel that your work-life balance is out of whack? If so, you may be part of the more than 60% of U.S. employees who also feel this way. But there is hope.
“Work-life balance” describes the ways people juggle the demands of work and home life in a way that makes sense. Your work life means all you do for work, whether it is in the office or working from home. Your home life includes time with family and friends, social events, and recreational activities.
What are the signs of an unhealthy work-life balance? It occurs when work becomes overwhelming, unending, and takes over your personal life. Some symptoms include constantly working long hours, never seeming to get enough done, neglecting personal life and family, feeling burned out, physical and mental exhaustion, and strained relations with family and friends – all due to work related commitments.
Since the pandemic, the problem has become exacerbated because many people began – and continue to – work from home. As a result, it’s harder than ever to put boundaries on work hours. In fact, some people say they are working more hours than ever. Zoom fatigue has set in for many. Meanwhile, home life has suffered as a result.
Having a poor work-life balance can have negative health consequences for the worker. One study showed that people who work 55 hours or more per week have a higher risk of stroke than those who work 40 hours. Other studies have shown that people who work long hours on a continual basis are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
A recent study shows that U.S. employees in general now value a good work life balance more than the health benefits offered by their employers. This should be a wake-up call to employers who want to find and retain good employees.
So how do you find your best work-life balance? Develop a roadmap to find common-sense solutions to your pressing problems. Start by asking questions to identify what is happening now and what you want for the future. You may find it useful to work with someone to have a non-judgmental dialogue and nudge you out of your comfort zone.
Some of the key tools to develop a better balance include:
Setting boundaries. Establish clear lines between work and personal life and try to separate work-related tasks from personal activities. Review your calendaring procedures to make them more efficient.
Time management. Use Stephen Covey’s classic “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” as a foundation and put his recommendations to use to be more effective at work and at home. Then organize and prioritize the tasks you do at work and at home. Build in family time and personal time into your week so it is not forgotten.
Stress management. Map out ways to manage stress levels during your week, such as building in regular physical activities and deliberately unplugging from work.
Building positive habits. Study James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” and learn how small alterations in your life can result in profound positive changes.
Building a more balanced life works because you help design it. You’ll make better decisions as your focus becomes clearer and more defined – and you’ll begin to look at life in a more positive way and stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s not an overnight process and it does require you to be flexible to make some common-sense changes to. But your payoff can be life-changing.
Eric M. Doroshow is a Delaware attorney, a Master Certified Life Coach, an author and an artist.