If you struggle to achieve work-life balance, you’re not alone. Alarmingly, 94% of professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half, more than 65 hours per week in a Harvard Business School survey.
Whether at work or home, here are three secrets to winning work-life balance.
Unplug. The question is not, ‘Can you afford to take a break or a vacation?’ It’s—can you afford not to? Technology has enabled us to work more efficiently and easily, however it has also created expectations of constant availability. As a result, the work day rarely seems to end. It’s all too common for phone notifications to disrupt time with our friends and family.
To win work-life balance, you must fight for, or protect, your precious quality time away from work. Take small steps begin fully enjoying moments outside of work. For example, turn your phone off for a half hour and increase durations as long as you aren’t expecting an important call or message. Over time, you’ll find that without the undercurrent of stress in your system, you will enjoy your life more, and ultimately be more productive at work.
Spend time wisely. Attaining work-life balance requires taking inventory of how, and with whom, you spend your time away from work. List who and what are most important to you, and create boundaries to protect time spent therein. Consider which activities are somewhat, or entirely, a waste of time and decrease total time spent accordingly. If certain relationships are more taxing than fulfilling, perhaps it’s time to reconsider them.
Work-life balance is unique to each person because we all differ in what matters most. It may be necessary check social media every hour for some, but only once daily for others. Consider turning off email and other notifications, and instead, carve out specific times of the day when you can reply in batches. Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Being more efficient at work, and therefore more productive, will enable you to have more fun outside of the office.
Pitch perfectionism. Most over-achievers develop perfectionist tendencies when they are young and their activities are limited to school, extra-curricular activities and perhaps a part-time job. As they grow and life becomes more complicated, perfectionism becomes impossible. The same modus operandi that worked well during childhood can become destructive during adulthood. Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, who wrote The Office Survival Guide, warns, “As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going,” and recommends the healthier option of striving not for perfection, but for excellence.
Dale Carnegie said, “Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.” If the mere thought of being slightly less than perfect or turning off work-related push notifications after work causes some anxiety, start with small steps.