How to move away from a preconceived notion of work-life balance to find what really works.
Work-life balance is a term we often hear tossed around, especially at the office or on job boards. But what does it really mean? More importantly, is it a reality or a myth?
Work-life balance leads to a more productive and happier life. Too many hours at the office leads to burnout, which then leads to a higher turnover rate among employees. According to Forbes research, 56% of employee burnout accounts for 20-50% of turnover. Of all the perks and benefits an employer might offer, one-third of employees report that work-life balance is the most essential. Unfortunately, 66% of employees say they don’t receive work-life balance at their jobs.
So, what is work-life balance? Is it real, and if so, how do you get it? The answers to these questions might surprise you.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is how you manage your time at work and outside of work. We all have responsibilities, obligations, relationships, and more to consider. It’s easy for our various commitments to create more stress when we cannot take care of the things we need. Work-life balance helps us balance the needs of our jobs with those of our other responsibilities – our lives outside of work. Yet, sometimes, achieving that balance might seem impossible.
Why Work-Life Balance is Elusive
Work-life balance eludes some people who work long hours, have more responsibilities at home or work, or lead a busy life. To find balance, you must first recognize what about your current situation is not working. You must also acknowledge what you are and are not willing to sacrifice and clarify where your boundaries lie.
Define Your Work Boundaries
Before you can define your personal boundaries, decide where those boundaries lie. Then, when appropriate, communicate them to your team. If, for example, your workday ends at 5 p.m., but you recognize some work emergencies and phone calls are occasionally necessary after this time, you might decide that you will stop taking calls after 7 p.m.
What your work boundaries look like for you will differ for someone else.
Why Family Boundaries Matter
Besides work boundaries, family boundaries also matter, especially if you work from home for part or all of the time. Having a dedicated office space and keeping specific work hours only goes so far if you’re dealing with constant interruptions.
If your loved ones are home during your work hours, communicate what your boundaries are during that time. Include when a necessary interruption, like an emergency or other urgent matter, is permissible.
The Final Word
Work-life balance is less of a goal and more of a series of healthy habits designed to help you better manage your time while balancing your career with your life outside of work. Forget the preconceived notion of work-life balance as described by others. In reality, the goal is life balance.
The job market will still be there tomorrow. Life, however, is more unpredictable. Balancing the two can ease your burden of stress and allow you to enjoy the world around you and the people who matter the most.
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