These days, work-life balance can seem like an impossible feat. Technology makes workers accessible around the clock. Fears of job loss incentivize longer hours. In fact professionals report working more and more these days. Experts agree: the compounding stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness.
Work-life balance means something different to every individual, but here health and career experts share tips to help you find the balance that’s right for you.
1. Let go of perfectionism
A lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school activity. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the ladder at work your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive.
The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism. As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going. The healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.
From telecommuting to programmes that make work easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The work day never seems to end. Just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment. Phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. Make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will develop a stronger habit of resilience. Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives.
3. Exercise and meditate
Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs –exercise- is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. Dedicate a few chunks of time each week to self-care. And if you’re really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises.
Deep breathing or grounding your senses in your present surroundings, are great starters.
4. Limit time-wasting activities and people
First, identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.
From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule. If email or internet surfing sends you into a time-wasting spiral, establish rules to keep you on task. And if you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.
To some, this may seem selfish. It isn’t. When it comes to being a good friend, spouse, parent or worker, the better you are yourself, the better you are going to be in all those areas as well.
5. Change the structure of your life
Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier?
Iinstead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Delegating can be a win-win situation. Find out what you can do to let go in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities.
6. Start small. Build from there.
We’ve all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year’s resolutions we forget by February. It’s the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly. If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there.