As a former work-a-holic, I know it can be difficult to balance work and home life. There’s an unspoken pressure to constantly prove our worth, to show the bosses that we’re doing a great job. Sometimes that results in working work one, two, three, or more hours more than a normal 9-5 job. I’ve skipped lunches, worked until 7 or 8 PM at night, then took the laptop home so I could keep doing emails.
There are many problems with this mentality, though. If you keep it up, in six months or a year (or maybe even sooner,) you will start to feel burned out. You won’t have the same excitement when you think about working. You’ll be tired all the time, stressed all the time. And you might be a little crankier than you normally are. This is because having “YOU” time is important to keep your life balanced and happy. If you’re working constantly, your brain is never turning off, keeping it alert and stressed longer than it wants to be. It’s important to take time to yourself and allow your brain and body to relax.
Here are some of my tips for reducing stress in your life and to help you to better balance work and home life:
Take your lunch break.
Many of us work through the lunch hour, but taking that time off helps give yourself a mental break. Even if you take just 30 minutes to walk around the block or to read (a book, not a report), it can help you relax and de-stress before you start the 2nd half of your workday.
Tell yourself you’ll leave at quitting time.
If I’m being honest, when I said “It’s OK to work until 7 PM,” I would work until 7 PM, and then frequently stay past that. If we tell ourselves that we will leave at 5 PM, then even if we have to stay a little bit longer to finish the task, it prevents working late from being the norm.
Schedule gaps into your workday.
Some of your daily work tasks may be more intensive than others. A daily planner can help you quickly plan and schedule your day. Try to schedule short breaks between meetings, projects, and mentally challenging tasks. Scheduling small gaps of time, such as a few minutes to grab a coffee or catch up on some easier work, will give you a chance to slow down and refresh before your next task or assignment.
Pacing your schedule will help prevent you from feeling mentally burnt-out before the end of the day.
Leave your work at work.
As you near the end of your workday, try to finish up any critical tasks that can’t wait until the next. Because, as tempting as it may be to take the laptop home or to bring back papers to read on the train ride home, to keep a healthy work and life balance, you’ll want to leave your work at work. Just like leaving at a certain time, there needs to be a clear line between work time and you/your family time. Once work enters the door, it’s harder to not just check one more email or look up something really quickly.
As you head home, use that time to decompress and clear your mind of work-related things. Listen to music, read a book, or do another relaxing activity to help your mind transition from work-mode to home-mode.
Turn off technology.
It’s hard to ignore the call of work if it’s constantly sending an alert to your phone or bleeping at you from the laptop. Unless your job requires you to be on-call, turn off the work-related technology when you arrive home. This will help you focus on you, without the distraction of work notifications.
I understand that all of these rules might not work for all jobs. If you work from home, you’ll require even more discipline since your work is at home. (Having a dedicated work area separate from the rest of the house can help.) But hopefully, you’ll find them as useful tips to generally help you achieve a better work and home life balance.
Do you have any tips to balance work and home life?