8 Decisive Things You Can Do to Improve Work Life Balance

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Work life balance can be like this young man trying to keep his balance on the top of a hydro pole
Going to extremes trying to keep your life and work in balance? The secret to work life balance is to focus on the things you can control. [photo: Ryan Tauss | Unsplash.com]

Spending long days at the office and tethered by your smartphone when you’re not there? You may be the family breadwinner, or both you and your spouse work. You may have eldercare or childcare demands, or both. And you’ve been wondering if work life balance is just a myth.

For some of you it may seem that way. Take the quiz to identify your balance issues.

After all, the issue of work life balance was raised as far back as the 1970s. Workplace demands have steadily increased since then. Here’s what science says about why you shouldn’t work more than 40 hours a week.

Find Your Work Life Balance

So how do you go about trying to find a balance between the myriad demands on your limited time and energy? Start here:

1. Identify your priorities

Figure out what’s important in your life – both core and secondary priorities – and rank them according to their importance. Work out a daily to-do list and set some long-term goals.

Include any desired new interests or lifestyle changes in your goals list. Reduce any non-essential activities and delegate the rest. Eliminate time wasters.

2. Take time out

Commit to one non-work activity each day that you look forward to, spent with family, friends or just yourself. Make it non-negotiable – it can’t be cancelled or rescheduled.

Devote at least 30 minutes and be completely focussed on the activity, whether it’s a massage, game with your kids, or a mindfulness meditation session.

3. Move your body

Exercise is a great balancer. It reduces stress while it recharges and energizes the body and the brain. If you’ve been largely sedentary, strive for a more active lifestyle.

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Start by taking short exercise breaks at work, from desk exercises to brisk walks during lunch or after work.

4. Get your sleep

It’s estimated that half of all Canadians suffer from lack of sleep. Chief reasons include job stress and medications, for instance. To get a good night’s sleep, keep a regular sleep schedule and avoid using electronic devices before bed. Create calming rituals like low room lighting or listening to quiet music to help you get ready for sleep.

TED Talk: Work Life Balance is an Ongoing Battle

5. Simplify your life

A simpler approach to daily living can give you a better perspective. Set boundaries by learning how to say no. Clear the clutter in your life, whether it’s around you at home or in your office.

Be more mindful – live more in the present moment – instead of constantly multi-tasking.

6. Ask for support

Share your plan for achieving a more balanced work life relationship with your family and friends. There’s nothing like having a team of supporters to cheer you on.

If you know someone who leads the kind of balanced life you want, certainly enlist them as a mentor. In addition, talk to your boss and present possible solutions to resolve any imbalances.

7. Consider the alternatives

Solutions to your imbalance could include a range of possible options. Why not explore them? Maybe you can work remotely and telecommute for example.

Other alternatives might be flextime, staggered hours, part-time employment or job sharing. If those don’t work, perhaps find a more family-friendly employer.

8. Evaluate often

Regularly review what you’re doing to reach an effective work life balance, then make changes accordingly. It takes careful monitoring to listen to how you really feel and take positive action.

Keeping a gratitude journal can also help reinforce your efforts by showing you what works.

A Satisfying Balance

A satisfying work life balance requires daily care and feeding. Above all, pace yourself and focus on the things you can control. They’ll help you beat burnout and get more enjoyment from your family and leisure time activities.

You Might Also Like These

There is no work-life balance – but how you blend your time matters

Work-Life Balance Index (OECD)

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