What is work life balance?
Many of us struggle to maintain a healthy level of work-life balance in our lives. The term work-life balance is used to describe the balance we strike between our working and personal lives. While modern careers experience increasing blur between these boundaries, mostly due to technology or poor work practices, increased awareness has led to the adaption of a wide range of successful strategies to achieve optimal work-life balance. If you’re struggling to juggle your career and personal life, it’s likely you’re not achieving fulfillment in either domain. Achieving and successfully maintaining a healthy work-life balance will boost your overall well-being and happiness.
There are many benefits gained from achieving a healthy work life balance including:
- Stress reduction
- Improved physcical and mental health
- Strengthened relationships
- Better work performance
- Increased happiness (or ‘subjective wellbeing‘)
Addressing a work-life imbalance is a multi-stage process with specific tasks to be undertaken at each step. Here’s a simplified step-by-step guide to help you achieve work-life balance:
Identify your values
What’s important to you? The things that are important to us can change over time. For example, before you had children your career and personal interests might have taken centre stage. Now, you might find yourself intent on being the best parent you can be. You might be struggling to effectively manage and balance work and family life. If you’re at the peak of your career, you might once have valued career progression but now your focus is on developing and mentoring others. Once you’ve identified your values it becomes easier to set priorities.
The goals you set should align with your identified values. They might range from spending more time with family to personal time or taking that trip you’ve been dreaming about. When setting your goals make sure they are SMART that is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
It’s useful to map out exactly how you use your time. How do you spend your time right now? (daily and weekly) You might be surprised at just how little or how much time you spend on certain aspects of your life. By identifying how you currently spend your time, you can start to identify and begin to address any areas of imbalance.
With a good understanding of what’s important to you and how you currently spend your time, you can prioritise the various elements in your life. If spending more time with your family has become more important to you than that work promotion, it should be given a higher priority in your life.
Once you’ve mapped your current values, time allocation and priorities, you can begin to re-allocate time accordingly. This is where you might need to be creative in how you achieve what’s important to you. It can help if you work with someone (like a career coach) to develop a plan.
Make a plan
With an understanding of how you currently spend your time, you can identify areas where you need to make changes. It might be that you need to set boundaries or eliminate non essential activities that waste precious time. You may discover a need to develop specific skills or put time management strategies in place to help you better manage your time. Developing an action plan will help you keep on track and enable you to monitor your progress.
Review and revise
Your life and circumstances are bound to shift and change over time. That’s why it’s important to regularly review and revise your work-life balance plan where necessary. Ask yourself questions these questions:
- What’s going well?
- What’s not going so well?
- What needs to change?
While achieving a healthy work life balance can take some time, your efforts will pay off. The key is getting clear on what’s most important to you so that you can allocate your time use optimally. Follow the steps above to develop your own healthy work life balance formula. Don’t forget to check in from time to time to ensure your work life balance plan is working. Make adjustments where necessary to keep your healthy work life balance in check.
It can be useful to work with a Career Coach to help you achieve your work-life balance effectively.