Modern workplace culture tends to emphasize how great it is to rack up tons of hours at work. In fact, the proliferation of social media and the level at which we’ve transferred most of our lives to the digital space has made it all too easy to keep working even when we’re supposedly “off”.
But while working long hours in order to impress a boss can be helpful for your career, it can also destroy your work/life balance. This can have serious negative consequences both for your work and your life outside it. Today, let’s look at the top tips for managing work/life balance.
WHY YOUR WORK/LIFE BALANCE MATTERS
Your work/life balance matters for both your mental health and your job.
Firstly, everyone becomes stressed out when they work too much, even if they like their job or their industry. Working too much simply drains you of emotional and physical energy and leaves you tired, unhappy, depressed, or irritable. This, in turn, makes you less fun to hang out with outside work and causes you to appreciate your time off even less.
Furthermore, even careerists who want to work as much as possible should pursue a healthy work/life balance. Working too much can have negative effects on your career. You’ll end up doing poor work if you’re too tired or if you aren’t happy at your job.
Ultimately, figuring out a solid work/life balance is a crucial skill that young professionals should try to learn as soon as possible so they can benefit from it for the rest of their careers.
LEAVE WORK AT WORK
First off, learn to leave your work at work instead of bringing it home with you. This is something that’s incredibly hard to do these days, especially since most professionals have a single phone that handles their work and personal correspondence.
However, anyone who isn’t salaried (and even many of those who are) must learn to actually clock out and check out of their work mindset when they’re no longer at the office. If your brain is still working even when you’re at home on your couch, it’s not really relaxing, and you aren’t fully recuperating as you should be.
DON’T CONTINUE WORK OR CHECK WORK RESOURCES AT HOME
Similarly, learn to leave your work resources off when you’re resting. This means not checking your work email, not responding to work phone calls, and otherwise not touching anything related to your workplace until it’s time to get ready for the next day. For some careers, this is easier said than done.
But everyone can practice good work/life balance habits by:
- their work materials in the same place and out of sight
- keeping their work computers away from living rooms or dens, and especially bedrooms
- avoiding work email alerts or turning them off
- and so on
TAKE VACATION DAYS!
Many young professionals could learn the value of taking vacation days even though they’re trying to rack up plenty of work hours to get a promotion. Vacation days are critical for mental health since they give you the time you need to refresh away from work without having as much of an approaching deadline (compared to a weekend).
Vacation days are prime opportunities to reconnect with your friends and family, chances for your mind to speculate on your future, and refocus on your goals, and time to just unwind and fully relax. This is all super important for your mental health, which will affect your work performance and general life enjoyment.
MINIMIZE INTERRUPTIONS WHILE YOU’RE RESTING
Whether you’re on vacation or just relaxing at home on the weekend, you have to learn to minimize the eruptions you experience so you can really relax. If you’re constantly interrupted by work when you’re supposed to be chilling out, your brain can’t fully rest, and you’ll find that your weekend went by without any actual restorative time.
As a result, you’ll be cranky, irritable, and frustrated all the time. For some folks, this might mean finding hobbies that give you time away from other people or retreating to a dedicated “you” space where you can do what you want without interruptions.
It may also be a good idea to get a separate work phone that you can shut off and keep away from your person when you’re not clocked in.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Maintaining a good work/life balance is predicated on you also taking care of yourself physically. That means getting enough sleep.
These days, far too many people seem to glorify their lack of sleep consistency. But getting only five or six hours of sleep a night is nothing to be proud of. Instead, make sure you get a solid seven or eight hours of sleep every night no matter what.
It’s also a good idea to go to sleep at the same time every night. Your brain will get into the habit of dozing off consistently, and you’ll find it easier to wake up at the same time each morning, too. Being on time to work will become easier as a side benefit.
Similarly, remember to eat healthily. If you barely eat during your workdays and gorge yourself on comfort foods during the weekend, you’re not maintaining a good work/life balance. Try to keep your diet relatively similar across all the days of the week. Again, consistency is what your body needs.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Perhaps the most important way to maintain a good work/life balance is to learn to say “no”, whether it’s to your boss, your employees, or your coworkers. Many of us are used to saying “yes” to please other people or to seem like a team player at our companies. But saying “yes” when you really don’t want to do something will only stress you out in the long run.
This is especially true if, for instance, you’re invited to an after-work engagement with your coworkers and just want to spend some time alone. Learning to say “no” will help you enjoy your time off more fully and prevent you from becoming bitter toward your coworkers.
By the same token, don’t go so overboard when it comes to pleasing your boss that you say “yes” to everything they request. Respect yourself and remember that you can refuse requests if it means you get time to relax.