Work-life balance: defined as the division of one’s time and focus between work and leisure activities.
The question is, how to find that balance? Is it 50/50 work/play? Is it more work than play? Is it vice-versa? The key point here is what feels ‘balanced’ is different for everyone. Certain lifestyles require such a level of dedication that a ‘balance’, to an extent, just isn’t possible. In this light, it is important to remember that work-life balance, and what is feasible is different for everyone. Essentially, what one person might consider a healthy balance may differ entirely from another person’s vision of health and happiness. Many individuals find hiring a virtual assistant an affordable way to rediscover harmony.
A person starting a career in Law or Medicine might consider one day a week to dedicate to themselves as the closest thing possible to balance. Other individuals need more time to themselves to feel like they have achieved a happy, healthy harmony. Ultimately, it is entirely dependant on the individual.
Identify specifically what you need
Identify exactly what it is that you need to feel that you have a healthy, maintainable balance. It is important to be as precise as possible. Do you need an hour in the evening to yourself to wind down? Alternatively, do you need to take a yoga class or go for a run?
Based on the identification of personal needs for health – set boundaries. These boundaries relate to both yourself and other people. If you need to do yoga, make sure you book and go to a class. Make it clear to other people in your life that this is important to you and that they should respect and support your priorities and boundaries.
Create a morning and evening routine
We cannot stress how important this is. Your morning routine defines your day. As long as it is healthy and incorporates something that you like (be it coffee, meditation, or 10 minutes to read the newspaper) it sets a positive tone for a productive day. Evening routine is just as important. We suggest dedicating at least an hour to wind-down before sleeping. Reading a book, meditating, or even journalling are some examples.
This stems from the first point – identification of your own specific needs for balancing work and down-time. Once you know exactly what these are stick to them! They are essentially what facilitate the long term ability to continue to work in a productive manner.
Manage your time
Every day, make a list of exactly what it is you need to get through. Arrange this list in order of priority.
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent, but not important
- Neither urgent nor important
The food which we consume has a huge impact on performance. Although no one can stick to a 100% rigid and completely healthy diet, minimisation of highly sugary food is recommended. Additionally, controlled portions of unhealthy foods such as white bread or pasta is a good idea. Everything in moderation is key.
Exercise should be a top priority for everyone. Not only does it ensure a healthy heart and body function, it releases feel-good endorphins such as Serotonin and Dopamine. It lowers the risk of depression and elevates mood.
Again, it is important to identify how much sleep is essential for you. It is impossible to function at 100% of your capabilities if you are exhausted.
Pick your people
Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you. Although psychology has shown we have different relationships for different reasons, it is important that you surround yourself with people who inspire you and push you. Nurturing relationships with people who motivate you to be the best version of yourself is essential. These people should, however, make you feel good about yourself.
Set specific goals
Having a set of specific, measurable, and attainable goals is important. The more specific the better. This is because specificity is motivating in that it is easier to work towards a goal if it is distinct.
Nurture outside interests
We cannot stress the importance of this. Outside hobbies or interests is essential in the maintenance of a work-life balance. It is also essential for a happy, fulfilled life. Whatever it is that you are interested in, or just enjoy doing, make time and space for.
Switching off technology is a monumental challenge for a large number of people. Phone addiction is a serious problem. Small changes are key to addressing this issue and improving work-life balance. Don’t look at a phone for the first half an hour after waking up, and before going to bed. Give yourself time over weekends or holidays to completely unplug and turn off your devices.
A healthy balance looks different to everyone. The key is to identify specifically what it is that you need to maintain physical health, mental health, and an interesting career. Based on what you know that your needs are, set boundaries and routines and stick to them. Make yourself a priority. Be selective about the sort of person who you allow close to you. Designate time to switch off. This way you create a lifestyle that is maintainable and fulfilling.