Managing a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Straight, No Chaser welcomes Laurie Larson to our contributor panel to discuss creating and maintaining your work-life balance. That sounds like a #72HoursInADay type of proposition!
In the digital age, achieving a healthy work-life balance is harder than ever. You can practically work from anywhere on any device! So how do you turn down work in your spare time?
The challenge becomes even more difficult for those who work from home. How do you turn off your work brain and switch on your home brain when it all takes place in the same venue?
These are questions people have been asking for years and they’re worthy of attention. The lessons we learn from classics like “A Christmas Carol” reign true. It’s never worth giving up your life for the sake of work. It can be difficult to make this decision and draw these lines with the pressures to succeed, but it’s the only way to go on. Working hard is important, but you should know when you’ve stepped over into the realms of overworking.
Overworking and burning out is a serious danger you can experience. Not only can this ruin your professional career, but it can also dig away at your personal life, health, and happiness. By devoting too much time to work and forgetting about other areas of your life, it’s likely you’ll experience the effects of social isolation and even sleep deprivation when stress keeps you up at night.
Long story short: A healthy work-life balance is vital to maintain. But how do you go about that?
Five tips to help you walk the tightrope with ease!
Designate physical spaces for your work
Remember when you were in college and they told you to never do homework in bed because then it would make you associate bed with work instead of relaxation and you’d have trouble sleeping? The same goes for work.
Be careful where you choose to take your work as it can have a big effect on how you think about that space in the future. If you regularly bring work home and work on the couch, your work thoughts have infiltrated that space. If possible, avoid bringing work into your home at all, but if you have to then try to designate one area like an office or work room. This will make it easier for your brain to switch off your work brain when you’re at home. And whatever you do, keep work out of the bedroom!
Stop sacrificing sleep
Speaking of the bedroom, you should work on developing a healthier relationship with your sleep. It may be tempting to push to meet those pressing deadlines by skimping out on your sleep for a few nights, but the effects of consistently losing a few hours of sleep can be detrimental to your overall well-being. Without proper sleep, you’ll experience brain fog and put yourself at risk for serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Keeping up a healthy sleeping schedule will benefit you in the long run, improving your focus and productivity during your waking hours. Take the time to invest in your sleep by optimizing your bedroom environment for better sleep. This means hanging up shades to block out light, using a noise machine if needed for quiet, and make any other necessary changes to turn your bedroom into an oasis for rest and relaxation at the end of your long days.
Set boundaries with your boss
If you don’t teach people how to treat you, they will walk all over you. It can seem intimidating to push back to your superiors, but unless you offer transparencies into what you’re actually capable of achieving and what kind of tasks are reasonable to expect, they will continue piling on more until you can’t handle it any longer.
Strange as it may sound, you have to teach your boss how to treat you. Set up expectations early on in your employment of when you’re willing to work, respectfully so of course. Don’t be so against having to work after hours every so often, but don’t be so pushy that you stay two extra hours each day.
Pencil in time for friends and family
As mentioned before, overworking can quickly lead to social isolation. When you’re too busy working and frequently deny other’s requests to engage in social activities, they will eventually stop inviting you. It’s likely you’ll have to go out of your way and start making efforts to have some socialization time again. You may receive rejection at first, especially if you’ve burned some bridges, but your true friends and family will come around and be happy to see you again.
Humans are social creatures and we need time around our favorite people to fulfill our needs. Don’t let work make you forget about the other parts of your life.
Pencil in time for yourself
As important as socialization is, so too is having time to yourself. It can feel hard to find times to prioritize yourself, especially if you feel guilt for relaxing. It’s time for the guilt to come to an end.
For an easy way to find more time for yourself each day, create a wind down routine that starts one hour before your bedtime. Take this time to do what you need to relax. Dim the lights, take a bath, read a book, or anything else that makes you feel good. This will also be beneficial for maintaining your mental health, clearing your mind after work, and helping maintain a healthy “life” side of the work-life balance.
How Laurie Maintains a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Laurie frequently writes on ways to help others improve their sleep health and overall well-being. You can find some of her work on sleep health topics here. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors any way she can.
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