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Let's dispel a common myth right away, so we can look at this subject with a realistic perspective:
There's no method that can help a person strike a perfect balance between their work life and their personal life.
Believing it's possible is a little unhealthy—
There are just too many items on today's agenda we'll never get around to. Things on tomorrow's schedule that we'll push back.
That's just an inherent part of adulthood—keeping pace with a perpetual workflow that demands every ounce of your attention and energy.
At the end of a long day of work, you want to have an actual life.
Meet friends, shop, catch a movie, go to your favorite restaurant.
The truth is, all that time, a thought lingers in the back of your mind:
“I have to wake up early tomorrow.”
The work-life balance begins to tip. You rush through dinner, prepare tomorrow's lunch, and hope you can wring a little more free time from tomorrow evening.
And it isn't a great feeling.
Your Misconceptions About the Work-Life Balance
You might believe you can address your work-life balance with an immaculately planned schedule.
If you're somehow able to plan your workday down to the very last second, well, more power to you.
Unfortunately, very few of us possess that kind of foresight, much less the ability to act on it.
Life is messy, and there are always unexpected changes you can't account for—
Regardless of your preparedness and punctuality, your co-workers could miss a meeting or get sick, and you'll have to make adjustments. These adjustments could throw off the rest of your day and leave you in the office after hours.
Some people think they can cheat the system. They might eat lunch at their desk so they don't have to stay at the office longer than necessary, or they'll skip a work event because it isn't mandatory.
In truth, though, this reallocation of time doesn't serve them well. And might just backfire.
They might get out of work early if they eat lunch at their desk, but the distraction of their food could compromise the quality of their work. They might gain more personal time by skipping an obligatory work event, but it'll reflect poorly on their reputation as an employee.
Does such life seem balanced to you? Sooner or later, the scales have to level out.
The essential takeaway here is that it's counterintuitive to stress yourself over the perfect work-life balance. It's an attractive concept, admittedly, but in practice, that kind of mindset will only serve as an obstacle toward making meaningful progress. Trust me—
It's Something I Know from Experience
As a tech and productivity writer, I have an intimate understanding of efficiency in the workplace.
I've researched modern methods of time management. I know what it takes to produce a high quantity of content. I consider myself knowledgeable in my areas of study.
But there's one thing I've learned—
I freelance in a journalistic capacity for a lot of different websites, and I have to work within the limitations of hard deadlines.
One of my clients prompted me to write a sizable piece that required a lot of industry-specific research. It took time to conduct and integrate what I gathered into the draft.
Because of a simple miscalculation, my task bled far past my working hours. I found myself writing deep into the evening.
Typically, I would have worried about my lack of preparation. This would cause me to lose focus on the task while creating a routine of ridiculing myself for something that wasn’t necessarily within my power to control.
I would obsess over what I did incorrectly when a project was genuinely intensive. This would only let me down and make me feel as if I had failed myself and others.
This had to stop—
Instead of beating myself up for it that time around, I decided that it was okay not to be so torn up over a scheduling mishap.
I made a plan to prioritize what I could fit into my schedule without trying to “do it all.”
This helped me avoid stress, disappointment, and exhaustion at work and in my everyday life.
In situations like these, it's important not to burn out.
Recognize that mistakes happen and estimations aren't always accurate. Show yourself patience and kindness as you move forward. Treat yourself as you would treat a co-worker. Make progress at your own pace until you've finished.
Get a job you love and work with people you respect. When you find the position that's right for you like I have, the issue of a work-life balance is less pressing, and it's easier to cope with unexpected holdups.
Advice on Improving Your Work-Life Balance
While it's unrealistic to believe that a perfect work-life balance is possible, you can employ some simple techniques to free up more time for yourself.
It's true that you have a responsibility to your company, of course, but—
You also have a responsibility to yourself and your personal well-being.
Your physical and mental health depends on self-care. Work ranks as one of the top three most common stressors, with 61 percent of surveyed individuals citing their job as a source of anxiety.
Naturally, more people should adopt strategies to alleviate this pressure so they can reach a happier balance.
How can you achieve a better work-life balance?
- Compose a short list of your priorities.
Determine which duties at home and work are least important to you and which are most important. Use this information to dictate how you schedule your day, allocating less time to the inessential minutiae and more time to the things you enjoy.
- Establish a clear set of boundaries.
How much additional work you're willing to complete outside of the office?When are you going to check your work email after hours, and when do you intend to ignore any incoming messages? Answer these questions yourself and consider your limitations. Then, speak to your superior about them.
- Take advantage of all of the resources at your disposal.
You likely have co-workers who are willing to help you with your tasks inside the office, and you can finish challenging projects. It's more than OK to ask for help, and I'd encourage it if you feel like you're overwhelmed with work.
Why the Work-Life Balance Is Skewed
It's simple enough to acknowledge that a perfect work-life balance doesn’t exist. It's less simple to understand why.
Maybe we could reach a more concrete solution that could help employees and employers in the United States achieve a better equilibrium—though that's unlikely, all things considered.
In truth, the balance tips on a fundamental level. The traditional nine-to-five template tries to fit employees within a box.
We—the employees—are human beings, with all the subjectivity that entails. We have our own unique pace, style, and method of approaching assignments and responsibilities.
Too often, companies treat a member of their workforce as an instrument and not an individual. This attitude is not only detrimental to morale but also hurts retention and increases turnover. A failure to respect preference is counterintuitive to productivity, with many remote employees working far more efficiently.
If a business owner takes the time to communicate with us, we might reach a mutual understanding. From this empathy, a better work-life balance could eventually develop.
Unfortunately, for larger corporations, this is improbable, and scale can prohibit a meaningful dialogue.
To see real change in your work-life balance, you can't sit on your hands, waiting for a massive revolution in conventional business practices. You can only depend on yourself, what you choose to do,and the difference you can make today.
Adopt a Different Perspective
It might start there, but it doesn't end there—
Finding the ideal work-life balance requires a sustained commitment to self-betterment.
Try employing some of the advice listed here and see how it helps you throughout your day. Check which techniques prove most effective for you.
You don't have to sacrifice your life for work. A compromise is possible. And more than this—you can find harmony.
So, What Do You Think?
Thanks for reading my article! I’d love to hear your thoughts on work-life balance:
- What’s the best tip you’ve ever gotten about work-life balance?
- Are there any successful work-life balance tips you practice in your life?
- Do you think that work-life balance varies with occupation?
Drop us a line in the comments. Let’s chat!