Do you have a good work-life balance? If you answered no, you're not alone. In fact, 66% of full-time employees in the United States don't think they have a healthy work-life balance.1 Here are six steps to help you achieve your own work-life balance.
Step 1: Write down your day’s events
Grab some paper and a pen. Let’s look at one day in your life. Write down what you did from the time you woke up to the end of the day. Did you like the flow of the day? What could have been better? What went well? Look at the tasks you need to accomplish in a given day. Some tasks are nonnegotiable: sleep, work, eat, exercise, family/pet time. Each of us has different personal habits and lifestyles. Keep in mind every day, week, or month may look different as you are making your work-life plan.
Step 2: Plan and prioritize your tasks
Look at the tasks you wrote down and determine which tasks are most important to you. Then, plan out how much time each task will require. Typically, our jobs take about 33% of our lives, and sleep is about 30%. How do you want to spend the last third of your day? Will you get a haircut? Massage? Go to a soccer game? Above all, avoid lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and bad exercise habits as they can counteract efforts to achieve work-life balance. Focus on one task at a time. When you are working, work. When you are with your family, be with them. Be respectful of your private time.
Step 3: Tune out distractions and set boundaries
Today’s technology can make the line between your work life and personal life quite blurry. Turn off your cell phone and laptop notifications when you’re engaged in an activity, or better yet, turn off the device altogether. When you are focused on the task at hand, you will become more productive, motivated, creative, happier, and a healthier human being.2 Make sure your third of the day is spent on what you want to accomplish. Set the boundaries. Do you keep agreeing to do things that you really don't want to do? Make sure you are filling your bucket so you can fill others’.
Step 4: Schedule one thing you look forward to each day
I highly recommend an activity you enjoy or look forward to. This activity or event doesn’t have to be time-consuming, complicated, or expensive. Schedule a walk with a friend, a phone call, or read a book. This will help you feel like you are not just working or sleeping all the time. Think of it as a reward. If you want work-life balance, you need to plan out your day with what you want to accomplish. This will help your mindset, which will boost your happiness, which will increase productivity. If you have something to look forward to, maybe you will work a little faster so you can enjoy the scheduled activity.
Step 5: Join or create a support network
Find a person or group of people to share in your efforts to create work-life balance. This will help you stay accountable, on track, help with any challenges along the way, and celebrate achievements as a way to motivate and enocourage you to achieve balance. Some people you might surround yourself with to encourage work-life balance are a life coach, mentor, coworkers, spouse, friend, or sibling.
Step 6: Evaluate
Achieving work-life balance can be challenging. Make sure you celebrate your progress. Evaluate your work-life balance on a regular basis and adjust when you need to. Achieving work-life balance is similar to the changing of the seasons, so your needs will be different at different times in your life. Achieving balance in both your work life and personal life allows you to perform optimally in both areas. Work-life balance may take a week, months, or maybe even years. Be patient with yourself. Each step, no matter how small, will lead to a life that is less stressful, more productive, and more enjoyable.
Editor's note: Originally posted in 2020 and updated regularly
1. Leadem R. Is work-life balance even possible? (Infographic). Entrepreneur. Feb. 18, 2018. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/309121
2. Ferreira S. The happiness value of work-life balance. Inc. Feb. 16, 2018. https://www.inc.com/stacey-ferreira/the-happiness-value-of-work-life-balance.html