Attitudes towards work/life balance are shifting, and many employees are setting stronger boundaries between their professional life and their personal life. As workers attempt to take better charge of their life outside of work, employers are stepping up their flexibility, especially in a hybrid work environment.
Some aspects of work/life balance come from HR and company benefits, but others are in employees’ hands. Here are some suggestions for taking responsibility for your own work/life balance. They’ll help you stay healthy, happy, and avoid burnout.
First things first: organize your workflow
Get organized. Unless you’re a brain surgeon, you can probably get your work done during a regular workday. Stay focused, and stand up and leave after you’ve put in your time.
If you work remotely some or all of the time, it might feel more convenient to just finish that one last thing you were working on. However, disconnecting from work is essential to your mental health. Making a habit to log off at a set time gives you better control of your work/life balance, and it gives you time to relax—which is ultimately beneficial to your overall productivity.
Even if your company culture calls for long hours, you should find ways to be as productive as possible so that you can have at least one day a week that you’re not burning the midnight oil at your desk.
Setting and sticking to a work and break schedule can help. What’s also helpful is setting timers for your tasks to ensure you’re not spending too much time on one task–and neglecting another.
And if you start telling people that you need to leave at a certain time, after a while they’ll get used to it. (And will maybe follow your lead.)
Get a grip on your schedule
It sounds almost too simple, but making a daily schedule with room on it for activities you enjoy, work breaks, and exercise, will help keep you on track. Even during high-stress weeks, you can find a few minutes for a walk, a break with a friend, or lunch out of the office (or your house!).
Keeping a routine schedule is particularly important for hybrid and fully remote workers. People are prone to working more hours when remote, but workers can prioritize their work/life balance by simply sticking to a specific schedule whether they’re in the office or not.
Just as you set a schedule for work, it can be beneficial to set a schedule for fun too. If you have kids and they have hobbies, join them as often as you can on evenings and weekends. You’ll learn something new about their passions, and there’s nothing quite as wonderful as the grin you get when you’re sharing something they love with them. Even helping with homework will bring you closer together.
Prioritize some "me" time
Get up an hour earlier every day. It won’t be easy, but the benefit is huge. Do just about anything you want with this extra time--it belongs to you. Longing to write a novel? You can get in some sentences at this time. Want to improve your abs? Good time for a quick workout. Just feel like taking a long bath? Go right ahead.
Some people block out time every day in their work calendars just for themselves--maybe to go to a yoga or meditation session, or just to have some quiet reading or walking or contemplative time. It’s all too tempting to use this time to catch up on your to-do list--but don’t. This is your time. You’ll come back to the list with more energy, and maybe with better ideas.
Find yourself with an unexpected hour in your day or after work? Don’t feel that you have to find something to do with it. Of course, if dinner with a friend is what you want to do, don’t stop yourself--but maybe just a walk around the block or doing nothing at all will fill up your happy space.
And remote or hybrid workers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of ‘me time.’ After all, there’s a big difference between spending your alone time working and spending it on an activity that truly brings you joy. Whether you’re an introverted remote employee or a social butterfly commuting to the office, dedicating a little time to focus on something you love is priceless.
Don’t save fun just for the weekend
We know work eats up a lot of time and energy, but make time to have fun during the work week too. Hybrid and remote workers in particular should make an effort to get out of the house to socialize or get some fresh air.
If you can, plan to take a class or visit a friend during the week. It gives you something to look forward to and breaks up the week, too. Plus, having fun during the week helps get your mind off of work, so you feel more relaxed during off-hours.
Recurring activities are another great way to stay active and social during the work week. Join a monthly book club or plan another regular activity--like maybe a Zumba class (if that would be fun for you.) This keeps your mind or body active and alert. You’ll feel more alive and less tied to your desk.
Take your vacations
Extended time away from work is a must. Whether you choose to travel or not (staycations can be amazing too), spending a week or even a long weekend away from work responsibilities is essential to a good work/life balance.
Don’t submit to the temptation to skip your earned time off. You need it to relax and refresh. It may be tempting to check in, but try not to. Delete your email apps from your phone, or leave your laptop at home if you must. Take this time to rediscover yourself (and your family, if they’re part of your picture.)
Enjoy your weekends too. Stepping away on the weekends can help you feel better about disconnecting fully when the time comes for an extended vacation. Try to empty your mind of work issues and live your life.
Advocate for family flextime
Here’s where your HR department may be valuable. Find out what policies your company has for flextime, so you can go to those concerts and games and recitals that take place during or after school time.
In today’s working world, many companies recognize the value of family time as part of their recruitment and retention strategies, and offer options so that you can take occasional hours off for important activities.
Even if you have to take vacation time for those precious kids’ activities--do it. These times only come around once. When you return to the office with a big smile, you’ll feel great--and you’ll be sending an important message about priorities.
Family time includes parents, too. If you have aging parents who would light up at the thought of having lunch with you, make it possible. They won’t be around forever, and you won’t regret the time you spent with them.
It’s not uncommon for remote and hybrid workers to be glued to screens all day. Binge-watching a Netflix show is a perfectly fine way to unwind after work, but if you go straight from the computer to the TV (with lots of phone scrolling in between), there’s a lot you could be missing out on — plus, it’s not good for your eyes!
Make time to get off your devices completely. As we all know, it’s a 24/7 world, but unless you have a job where it’s really necessary to be on call all the time, try turning your devices off for a couple of hours a day. Some people do this during the dinner hour, others leave them in another room (muted) overnight. You’re likely to find some peace--and that very little of importance happens that requires your immediate attention.
Don’t forget to take care of your physical health
Remote work and office jobs might not typically be considered grueling work, but a sedentary lifestyle can do a number on your wellbeing. Disconnecting from work and meeting up with friends is important, but don’t forget to make time for your physical health as well.
Prolonged screen usage can lead to headaches and deteriorating eye health, while the wrong desk setup can contribute to back pain and carpal tunnel. Keep up with doctor’s appointments, maintain a good exercise routine and customize your remote work setup to be as comfortable as possible. And don’t skip out on regular wellness exams.
Take a holistic approach to wellness in a hybrid work environment
When you disconnect both mentally and physically from work, you’re able to be more present in your personal life. As you work towards a better work/life balance, remember that wellness encompasses more than just your mental and physical health. Your relationships, personal goals, and self-care are all equally important to your wellness.
Dedicating time to nurture each aspect of your life will help you perform well at work. But most importantly, it will help you lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
Looking for more ideas on how to make your work/life balance, well, more balanced? Take a look at our blog, Top 10 Instagram Accounts to Jumpstart Your Health and Happiness. You’ll get a load of ideas about making work, and life, a happy pairing.
There’s also our blog, 10 Ways to Get Fit at Your Desk, for those days when you just can’t get away--but you can still take action.
But no matter what your situation, keep alert for ways to stay productive and also keep that balance. It’s possible--we promise!
Are you a business owner or HR professional looking to help your staff achieve better work/life balance? Incorporate 20/20 Onsite into your employee wellness program to offer convenient on-site care. Employees will save time, and you’ll help them feel happier and healthier. Contact us today to get your team on the schedule with our Mobile Vision Clinic.