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Work is essential in our lives. It ensures there’s food on the table, and money to keep the lights on. Despite this, your entire life should not revolve around work.
For all professionals and entrepreneurs, the need to find the perfect balance between their demanding jobs and personal life is essential. But why is it so challenging to draw the line between your work and personal life?
The pandemic has changed the way people live. Between running errands, doing chores, catching up with friends, meeting deadlines for work, and attending meetings, you can end up feeling stressed, burnt out, and overworked.
Currently, Filipinos are prioritizing work-life balance together with job security, and good relationships with their superiors over many factors when it comes to their career.
Overall, Filipinos do a good job at finding work-life balance. A study by Monster found out that around 65% of working professionals in the country are satisfied with their current work-life balance.1
Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. So what do you do when you are unable to balance your personal and career lives?
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-Life balance is the level of prioritization between one’s professional and personal activities. While the definition of work-life balance may seem straightforward, the ideal amount can differ from one person to another.
A lot of people look at technology as a godsend when it comes to work, and while it certainly offers a myriad of benefits, its increased use has pushed many people to constantly juggle work responsibilities.
The sad truth remains that many employers still expect their employees to answer work-related communications after office hours, whether it’s through text, emails, or calls.
Why is Work-Life Balance Important?
Work-life balance is not just a catchphrase millennials and Gen-Z love to use. A good work-life balance has amazing effects for both employees and companies.
Consequences of poor work-life balance
Maintaining the right balance of work and personal life is key to preventing burnout. This should be a priority considering chronic stress is a leading health issue in the workplace, and this could lead to health problems such as:
- Digestive troubles
- Heart disease
People who are unable to enjoy work-life balance are also more at risk of mental health problems such as anxiety, and depression since the human brain is not meant to feel constantly pressured and stressed.
Professionals dealing with any of these issues also experience compromised concentration and productivity.
When you feel satisfied in both your career and personal life, you will be more capable of dealing with challenges, and negative emotions.
Impact on Organizations
There’s no doubt that most of the benefits of work-life balance are for employees, but its effect on business is also tremendous.
In a survey by the Corporate Executive Board which represents a majority of Fortune 500 companies, 21% of employees who say that they have a great work-life balance are more productive at work.1 This productivity is also mirrored in their engagement level.
When employees feel more engaged, businesses can benefit from employees taking fewer sick days, less absenteeism, and employee turnover.
Because of all the benefits work-life balance has on businesses, entrepreneurs must be at the forefront of taking initiatives to promote work-life balance among their employees. This can be done by efforts such as:
- Offering flexible work hours
- Establishing work communication boundaries
- Encouraging employees to take holiday breaks
- Giving employees the option to work from home
How to Improve your Work-Life Balance
More people are saying that managing their professional and personal lives has become increasingly difficult because of the pandemic.
Although achieving a work-life balance can be hard, you can take several actionable steps to be more in charge of your life. Here are some effective tips you can implement.
1. Take more rest days
Do you remember the last time you took a break from work and never thought about deadlines the whole day?
One of the ultimate things to do to achieve work-life balance is to get rid of your high productivity mindset for a few hours, or ideally the whole day. If you can, go to a stress-free environment.
This doesn’t have to be a white sand beach in Siargao or Palawan. You can just spend it in your bedroom, or your favorite spa, restaurant, or salon.
When you take yourself out on a “date,” you will realize what things matter to you most. More than that, it will help you understand that life is not just about working. Taking a break will also help you come back to work feeling more inspired and motivated.
Instead of spending your whole weekend dreading for Monday to come or getting some work done to prepare for the first workday of the week, use this time to relax.
Never feel guilty for taking rest days. Think of it as a way of investing in your physical and mental health.
2. Be more intentional about meetings
A lot of Filipinos deal with meetings the whole day. This leaves little time to get work done. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t helping you achieve a work-life balance.
Many professionals feel the pressure to work until late hours on weekdays and meet deadlines even on weekends. However, if you don’t take charge of your calendar, it will dictate your life.
If you need to get some work done, put it in your schedule. Be more intentional in holding blocks of time to work on your reports, answer emails, or even clean your work desk.
If you work for a company that has too many meetings, you may need to talk to your boss about needing more time to work outside meetings. Approach your supervisor about removing you from meetings you don’t need to attend.
3. Set your schedule well
This tip goes hand in hand with being more intentional about your meetings. In the same way, you should also prioritize your to-do list for the day. Answer questions like:
- What are the things that you must complete before the day ends?
- What things can you work on tomorrow?
- What are the things you must complete within the week/month/quarter?
The foundation of setting a good work schedule is knowing what your priorities are. Once you have this, you can start creating plans that align with your goals.
Do not overload your schedule with too many tasks because that will only lead to spreading yourself too thin. Instead, focus on fewer goals. When you tick items off your to-do list, you will feel more motivated.
Adversely, seeing many things you have not completed will only cause your motivation to drop.
4. Know that there’s nothing wrong with saying no
This is one of the most important tips to follow if you want to achieve a work-life balance. Decide who are the people you want to build connections and relationships with, and what you want to do.
Day by day, people face tons of requests at work. At the same time, there are also many opportunities outside of work they are dealing with. Because of this, you can easily end up committing to things you are not interested in because others are expecting you to do so.
People who have achieved work-life balance have enough self-respect to live their life on their own terms and decline things that do not matter, and those that are outside their duty.
When you have a clear understanding of what and who matters in your life, you will have a better idea on how to spend your time.
5. Make time for things you love doing
Do you enjoy going to your favorite coffee shop in the morning? Or spending time playing with your dog? Or maybe you love cooking for your family? Whatever it is you love doing, consciously make time for it every day.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the hustle culture that you forget what things truly bring you joy. One of the best ways to achieve work-life balance is to commit to doing things that make you feel happier every single day.
If you can’t think of anything, it’s not too late to find something you are passionate about. Here are some ideas:
- Trying a new workout
- Spending time with your peers
- Learning a new skill
It doesn’t matter what activity you choose, as long as you enjoy the experience and look forward to doing it.
6. Stay away from time wasters
If you are driven to achieve a work-life balance, you need to spend your time more efficiently.
Identify the activities that you can trim. If answering emails, watching movies on Netflix, or watching Kabulastugan videos on Instagram only make you waste countless hours of your day, establish rules on it.
For instance, you can turn off social media and email notifications to prevent distractions, or you can allot one hour in the evening for social media.
Time wasters can also come in the form of people. If you are cornered each day by toxic people, respect yourself enough to excuse yourself from them.
A lot of people think this tip encourages them to be selfish but in reality, it’s about making yourself a priority. Once you do this, you will not only become a better employee, but also a better parent, child, or friend.
7. Spend more time with people you love
Nowadays, it’s easy to get caught up with the allure of technology that you forget to check up on people you love.
Whether it’s with your parents, children, partner, or friends, carve out time to be with these people, especially if all of you have been fully vaccinated. Even a simple dinner together will do wonders to reaffirm that you are not alone.
If you cannot meet them in person, set up skype or Zoom calls. Soon, you will see a massive difference not only in your perspective, but theirs too.
8. Always prioritize your health
Your health does not just involve your physical wellbeing, but also your emotional and mental state.
If you are constantly battling stress, anxiety, and depression, consider getting therapy. Work around your work schedule to visit a professional.
On the other hand, if you have a chronic illness, do not think twice about calling in sick. When you force yourself to work, you will only overwork yourself and probably worsen your condition, therefore causing more absenteeism in the future.
9. Let go of the concept of time
Many people set deadlines for themselves when it comes to their career. For example, they need to be promoted to a supervisor position in two years, or get a raise by the end of the year.
But in the pursuit of trying to achieve those goals, they simply drain their energy and leave no time for their personal life.
Instead of thinking you need to work from morning to night each day, focus your energy more on achieving better results. This can be done by shifting your focus. Do not take in all the projects that fall into your lap. Simply go with fewer projects that have the most impact.
When you fall into the trap of doing activities and tasks that simply drain your energy and waste your time, you will end up feeling drained.
Whenever you catch yourself feeling this way, remind yourself that there is no need to rush. Everything will eventually fall into its place.
10. Stop striving for perfection
Just like other things in life, there is no “perfect” work-life balance. Sometimes, you really can’t help staying late finishing tasks at work, and other days you have extra time to enjoy the things you love doing.
Stressing yourself over having the perfect schedule will only do you more harm than good. Keep in mind that balance is not achieved in just one day.
Instead, it’s something you work on over time.
As much as you can, assess your short-term and long-term goals and priorities, and be more open about redirecting your focus and enjoying whatever life throws at you.
Here are my take:
Confine your work and life – set strict boundaries so that you know where one starts and the other ends. Deal with work issues in the office, home stuff after hours.
Leave technology at the office–bring it home only for a limited time each night.
Plan leisure time into your day or week–be deliberate about balancing work and free time to live a more balanced life.
Set limits on what you’ll spend your waking hours doing to gain control of your waking hours back from other people’s needs.
Learn how to say “No” tactfully while still being respectful of others’ needs for help, offer changes or concessions if possible instead of refusing outright without hesitation–doing this will make all parties happier in the long run!