Trying to manage your job, your home, your kids, relationships, friends, and hobbies (if you’re lucky enough to have one), seems like an impossible feat. The technology in your pocket makes employees accessible around the clock, making the work-life balance even harder to manage. Fears of job loss incentivize employees to work longer hours and stay connected to the office even after they go home.
As a result, 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey. This level of overwork leads to chronic stress that damages relationships, health and overall happiness.
The key to maintaining our physical and mental health is one simple word: balance.
When we have a good work life balance, we are more productive, take less sick days, and are more satisfied with our personal and professional lives. If you could use a little help on having a life after work, try some of these unique ideas:
Set manageable goals each day
Set yourself up for accomplishment each day so you maintain a sense of control over your workload. Create daily goals that are manageable and realistic. When you’ve met those goals, consider it a good days’ work.
Break up big projects
Rome wasn’t built in a day, when you’re faced with a big project, divide it into smaller tasks and complete one at a time.
Sometimes we do things at work because “that’s the way they’ve always been done” This isn’t always efficient or necessary. If you feel overwhelmed by routines that seem unnecessary, talk to your boss and see if there’s a more productive way to accomplish the same thing.
Listen to your favorite music at work, studies show it reduces stress and fosters concentration. Close your office door or put on your headphones and turn up the tunes.
Don’t try to work through difficult situations alone. Communicate openly with your boss and/or colleagues. When you approach them, suggest practical alternatives and remain calmly and rational to make room for compromise.
Wake up earlier
Most people are more productive in the morning. Get up an hour earlier and take care of household chores so that when you get home from work, your come home to a tidy home with time to relax.
This is the most popular advice for many reasons, but it’s also the hardest to do. If you must, put your phone in the dresser drawer until morning.
Maybe you don’t have time to have a three-hour dinner party with friends, or spend hours painting a mural, but you can schedule a 45-minute lunch date, or bring a sketchbook to work. Don’t abandon your favorite things just because you think you don’t have any time. Find creative ways to make time for the things you love.
Divide and conquer
Work with your spouse to make clear home responsibilities so you’re not immediately overwhelmed with a honey-do list when you walk in the door.
Don’t over commit
Avoid overscheduling activities or obligations that are unnecessary, say No until you feel you’ve achieved a better balance in your life, then you can add in more extracurriculars.
Do something every day that is for no one else except you. Listen to your favorite podcast in the car, enjoy your favorite TV show, go to a bookstore, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee.
Look into your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Chances are, your company has benefits you don’t know about. EAP programs offer resources for mental health issues, caretaking for ill family members, and even help finding daycare.
Make exercise a regular habit at least 2-3 days a week. Find something active that you enjoy doing not just because you “should.”
Don’t let stress take over. If your job is getting in the way of your health and happiness, if you feel constantly overwhelmed, it might be time to ask for help. Seek out family, friends, or a mental health professional who can provide personalized direction for getting the most out of life.