"Work-life balance is not a goal; it's a technique, a strategy, a way of operating that helps you manage the ever-increasing demands of both your life and work." - John C. Maxwell
A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to us all. It’s not so much about splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure but making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life. It can be hard, especially with the rising cost of living and the costs and logistics of raising a family in the modern world.
A healthy balance could be: meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies, having enough time to sleep properly and eat well, and not worrying about work when you’re at home.
This can be challenging if, for example, we also have family and child responsibilities, a demanding boss, or health difficulties.
How do I know if my work-life balance is unhealthy?
It can be easy to normalise working long hours or being under extreme stress, especially if we’ve been doing it for a long time or all our colleagues are in the same boat.
Our assumptions and habits around work can become deep-rooted unless we take a step back once in a while.
It’s not always possible to make changes at work: if you’re on a zero-hours contract, you might not feel comfortable speaking up, for instance, or you might need to work long hours to earn enough money to pay your bills.
But for those who can make changes, recent research finds that work-life balance is actually a cycle, not an achievement. Scientists suggest regularly checking your work-life balance by following five steps.
5 Steps to Finding the Work-Life Balance Sweet Spot
1. Pause and ponder: Take a moment to really think about what’s causing you stress and unhappiness, and how it’s impacting your work and personal life.
2. Get in touch with your feelings: Tune in to what your gut is telling you about your work - are you feeling fulfilled and content, or angry and resentful?
3. Reprioritise: Make a list of what needs to change - do you need to reduce your working hours to make more time for family, or not check emails on the weekends?
4. Explore alternatives: Is there anything at work you can change to meet your new priorities?
5. Make the changes: Take action and make the changes you need to find that perfect balance between work, family, and if possible, leisure.
6. Set aside just 30-45 mins a day for fun. Try to do something that is for you or something that relaxes you. It could be watching a TV show with your kid or playing golf, but choose something where you feel nourished afterward.