5 Insightful Tips to Manage Work Life Balance
People who are driven to be successful have probably felt the tension between the two opposing forces of the grind and maintaining work life balance. The grind is a term for pushing yourself to work hard towards a goal. This may mean spending long hours at the office to finish a project, spending all your free time on side hustles to pay off debt, or putting all your energy into starting a new business. The grind is a pathway towards financial freedom and success.
Whereas the grind is pouring all your time and energy into working, work life balance shifts the focus more towards lifestyle. Working is a necessary part of life. Unless you have already reached financial freedom, you need to earn money in order to survive. Having a good work life balance does not mean not working at all but instead it means keeping the work at a lower level so that more time and energy can be put into lifestyle concerns. Lifestyle includes family, friends, physical and mental health, well as pleasure and leisure activities.
The tension between these opposing drives tends to work in a fairly predictable cycle. It starts with the grind. You set your goal and you are highly motivated to achieve it. You throw yourself into the work and spend long hours focused in on tasks at the expense of everything else in your life. You neglect exercise, self-care, and sometimes even relationships. You go for fast meals over healthy nutrition or perhaps even skip meals. You get less and less sleep and forgo leisure activities you enjoy in order to get more work done.
But this can only be kept up for so long until you burn out. For some people this level of dedication may last days and for others it may be years. Typically this workload makes people burn out and causes a priority shift towards work life balance. The ideal situation occurs when the right level of work life balance can be reached. However, it can be easy to shift towards too much leisure when burnout occurs.
It is important to know when the grind has taken over to the point of burnout. You may be experiencing burn out if you notice the following:
You have chronic poor health:
Stress compromises the immune system. If you are over working without enough time for rest and recovery then your immune system is not functioning at full capacity. You may have frequent minor illnesses or symptoms that linger long after an illness. This could also take the form of chronic or frequent flare-ups of physical pain such as headaches, back, neck, or joint pain. Another common health problem associated with stress is gastrointestinal dysfunction and discomfort.
You always feel tired:
Chronic fatigue is not normal and is a signal that something is wrong in the body. While there could be other reasons for feeling tired constantly, the most common cause is poor sleep. Many people simply do not get enough sleep. While the ideal amount of sleep varies between people, the average suggested amount is 7-9 hours per night. Stress can also interfere with the quality of sleep, preventing deep sleep or interrupting your sleep. If you are sleeping close to the recommended hours and still feel tired burnout out could be the cause. Check out our post on sleep.
You are unhappy:
While working towards our goals is an important and necessary component to happiness, we also need to have time to do things we enjoy. Working too much can lead to feeling depressed, anxious, and easily irritated. If you notice your patience becoming shorter and you are reacting to people out of irritability, you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate how you are spending your time.
You are having problems in multiple relationships:
Relationships need to be nurtured with quality-focused time in order to remain healthy. While a problem in one relationship may to specific to that person, if you find yourself having issues in several relationships then it may be you. People tend to become frustrated when you are always prioritizing your work or when you are distracted while you are spending time with them.
Since most of us need to spend time working, we don’t want to spend so much time on leisure that our goals stagnate. At the same time, we do not want to spend so much time on the grind that our personal life and health suffers. Maintaining this balance in our modern fast-paced society can be very difficult. We often feel pressure and stress just from striving towards that ideal work life balance.
Feeling stressed about the imbalance in your life is counterproductive. Instead, take these steps to improve your work life balance:
1. Identify your values and the behaviors that are in line with your values:
What is important to you? Be specific about your values and then determine what behaviors fit with those values. For example, if you value your family then you want to set aside time on a regular basis to spend time with them. Or maybe health is a value and so you make sure to go to bed early enough to hit the gym every morning. We tend to feel more satisfied with our life when we are living in line with our values.
2. Set small daily or weekly goals for working:
When we have a long to do list, it can be easy to say we will get to the other stuff later when we “have more time.” But chances are that deadline keeps getting pushed back or we end up chronically busy because we don’t make time for the things that are important to us. Setting small goals to complete every day or every week can help keep us on track. This should be done for both work and leisure. This could be 30 minutes to relax before bed, going to yoga once a week, or working on a side hustle for an hour after work. Check out our post on habits.
If you are interested in forming habits to improve your finances and your lifestyle check out Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.
3. Communicate your goals to family and friends:
Once you have identified your values, goals, and developed habits for helping you reach them, you want to make sure the people in your life are aware of them. It is important to clearly communicate not only what you are doing but why you are doing it. Ensure that in this conversation you explain to them how this will also benefit them. Ask them what their concerns are and be willing to compromise or work collaboratively with them to make sure they are on board and supportive of your plans. It can make a huge difference to have a partner encourage you to keep working towards a difficult goal when you start to feel unmotivated.
4. Make time for your self-care and for your loved ones:
Ensure that you have time scheduled into your busy calendar to spend on yourself as well as with others. We all need time to ourselves to rejuvenate. These are activities that are good for your health, such as cooking healthy food and exercising. They can be activities that make us feel good like getting your nails or hair done. They may also be things that help us manage stress or improve mood such as mediating, taking a warm bubble bath, or spending time out in nature. You also want to set aside time to spend with family and friends. This can be time spent doing something enjoyable like going out for a movie and dinner or doing tasks to help them reach their goals. Check out our post on self-care.
5. Stop multi-tasking:
There are times when multitasking is necessary because of a busy schedule or work demands. However, it should be avoided when possible. Research shows that multitasking makes people less efficient because they waste time switching attention between tasks. This also leads to a greater number of mistakes. Multitasking tends to make people feel more stressed and it prevents them from being fully present during enjoyable experiences. Whether you are spending time with family, working on your business, or even worrying about something, do just that one thing before moving on to another task.