It's one thing to push yourself to perform well on the job, even if that means logging in extra hours or spending the occasional weekend catching up on work-related tasks. But there comes a point when too much work can destroy any semblance of having a personal life, and unfortunately, a large number of Americans are stuck in that unhealthy scenario.
A FlexJobs survey released in 2018 revealed that 70% of Americans are unhappy with their work-life balance. Worse yet, 86% feel that job-related demands compromise their ability to take good care of their health.
If your work-life balance needs improving, then make this the year you finally achieve that goal. Here's how.
1. Set boundaries
Part of the reason so many Americans struggle with work-life balance is that technology has created as "always on" culture. Throw in a demanding job and perpetual deadlines, and it's easy to see how you might struggle to tear yourself away from your desk most nights.
But if you're intent on achieving a better work-life balance, you'll need to learn to set boundaries, and that means deciding when you will and will not be working on a week-by-week basis. If you tell yourself at the start of the week that you're only going to work late twice, and make it clear to your manager, your peers, and even yourself, that you'll be picking up and leaving at 6:00 PM sharp most nights, then you'll slowly but surely have an easier time carving out hours for yourself.
The same holds true for checking work email or logging on to problem-solve or catch up on outstanding assignments. You can designate an hour or two to your weekends when things get really busy, but then make sure you're similarly putting blocks of work-free time on your calendar as well.
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2. Schedule more time off
Americans have a tendency to leave vacation days on the table. But if you do, you'll send the message to your employer that time off isn't important, which is a dangerous point to convey.
Taking time away from the office is one of the best things you can do for your work-life balance as well as your health, so identify less busy periods at work and schedule some vacation days during them. You don't actually need to buy a plane ticket and go somewhere new; just give yourself a mental break from the grind of going to work daily.
3. Learn to better manage your time
The more productive you are when you're working, the less time you'll have to spend plugging away. Take a look at your priorities each week, figure out how much time you need to get your most pressing tasks done, and work backward from there.
At the same time, identify your greatest on-the-job distractions and try to reduce or eliminate them. If talkative co-workers tend to throw you off your game, ask to work from home when you're tackling projects that demand deep concentration. And if work chat apps have a similar result, don't sign on when you know you really need to focus.
Having a decent work-life balance is important. Without it, you'll risk burning out and hurting your career and health in the process. Follow these tips, and you'll hopefully manage to regain some valuable time in your schedule to spend time with family, tend to personal tasks, and just plain feel human again.
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