We live in a culture in which overwork is worn as a badge of honor. We have all heard the stories of the billionaires who have reached their golden status thanks to sleep deprivation. Think about Elon Musk, who, in a now-famous interview in 2018, declared to work 20 hours per day.
However, not all successful people think the same. Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO, has warned startup founders on the risks of working nonstop. Additionally, research shows that you should care more about your well-being. It will reduce the risk of burnout and improve your health. It might seem easier said than done, but we have collected 12 work-life balance tips for living a healthy life.
Main obstacles to work-life balance
We have been told over and over again that professional success is equal to being a workaholic. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is on the rise. New studies show that employees are working an average of 9.2 hours of unpaid overtime per week– 1.9 more hours more than a year ago.
This can be explained by looking at two main factors: the pandemic and the hustle culture. Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of people around the world have lost their job. As a consequence, many employees have overworked out of fear of losing their source of income. Furthermore, COVID-19 has accelerated the rapid digitization of the workplace. The line between our personal and professional life has blurred. After all, who does really feel free to ignore work e-mails, even if it is Friday night?
On top of this, when we think of a main obstacle to achieving work-life balance, we should take a closer look at hustle culture. The internet is filled with articles on how to monetize your hobbies or enhance your personal brand. The message behind this is that we should be productive all the time. But what is the true cost of this?
Why you should care about work-life balance
Burnout is on the rise. According to a survey by Indeed, 52% of respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021. A 9% increase from pre-Covid-19 times. One of the main causes is that, especially during the pandemic, employees have lacked work-life balance.
Furthermore, new research shows that overwork is literally killing us, with three-quarters of a million people dying each year of long working hours. However, you should care about following some work-life balance tips also for other reasons.
It might sound obvious, but having a fulfilling life outside the office will make you feel less stressed and generally happier. The World Happiness Report noted that work-life balance is one of the strongest predictors of happiness.
4 work-life balance tips to follow at work
A good work-life balance strategy starts from the office. It’s time to learn to set boundaries with others and yourself.
- Stop being a perfectionist
Let go of perfectionism and embrace being a human being. Work at the best of your capabilities, but accept that from time to time, you will make mistakes. Or you might have a day or two in which you are not going to be super productive.
- Set realistic goals
You won’t be able to achieve a work-life balance until you start setting realistic goals in your day-to-day in the office. Understand how much time you need to perform a task and based on that, define your workload and deadlines.
- Enhance your communication
To help you achieve the previous point, you might need to enhance your communication skills. If you realize you can’t respect a certain deadline, ask for help or an extension. At the same time, if you feel on the brink of burnout, talk with the HR department or your boss. They might be ready to help you.
- Take breaks
Yes, taking breaks is fundamental for your well-being and your performance. Research has shown that taking breaks can boost your productivity. While different studies have different opinions on when you should take a break, it might be useful to do it after 60 or 90 minutes. However, if you notice that you can’t stay focused for that long, take a short break every time you feel your mind needs a moment to recharge.
4 work-life balance tips to follow at home
You can enforce all the right work-life balance strategies in the office, but it is even more important to prioritize your wellbeing at home.
- Take time for yourself
It’s OK to have free time. Use it to take care of yourself. If one day you feel blue and you just want to relax at home, do it. Or if you want to walk for three hours on the beach sipping a mojito, go for it!
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Don’t look at work-life balance as another goal. Accept that sometimes you won’t comply with all the work-life balance strategies you have put in place. And that’s fine. Listen to yourself and give yourself a break.
3. Find something that helps you disconnect
We all have one thing that helps our minds to disconnect. For some people it’s time with their loved ones, for others is a painting class. What is yours?
4. Don’t answer e-mails and calls from work
Unless it is very urgent, do not answer e-mails and calls after your working hours. Try to establish boundaries between your professional and personal life and let people know your availability. We know that this last point doesn’t depend entirely on you, so we have four tips also for employers and HR departments.
4 work-life balance tips for employers and HR managers
Achieving work-life balance shouldn’t be solely the responsibility of individuals. Employers and HR departments should play a major role. If you are a student of our Master in Strategic HR & Change Management or MBA in Leadership and Talent Management, take notes. These last 4 work-life balance tips will be particularly useful during your career.
- Give flexibility
Since the beginning of the pandemic, flexible work has become more common. It can be in the form of a flexible schedule or the possibility of working remotely. It is a win-win solution as employees can achieve a better work-life balance while employers can increase productivity.
- Set an example
Leaders should be the firsts to put into practice all the work-life balance tips mentioned in this article. If managers and directors are often on the brink of burnout, who is going to do differently? It might seem like mission impossible, but it’s all about learning to prioritize and delegating tasks.
- Check with your employees their well-being
From time to time, employers and HR departments should check the well-being of their employees. This can be done through anonymous surveys or regular one-to-one meetings. It is crucial to choose the modality better suited to the needs of employees. The goal should be to create a safe space for workers to express how they really feel, not stressing them even more.
- Put in place clear work-life balance strategies and policies
Companies should implement clear policies aiming at fostering work-life balance. For example, Netflix offers 52 weeks of paid parental leave to both mothers and fathers. Moreover, new parents can choose to come back on a part-time basis if they desire, or come back, and leave again within this one year while having their full salaries and benefits paid.