The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities
– Stephen Covey
Work life balance is the state of equilibrium where an individual equally prioritizes the demands of their career and the demands of their personal life. We can understand that keeping our professional and personal life balanced can be a challenge but it is essential! Our desire to succeed in the marketplace often allows our work to take priority over everything else in our life. But creating a harmonious work life balance will help improve our physical, emotional, mental well-being as well as our career. Based on an international study by tech company Kisi, Singapore has been ranked as the second most overworked city in the world for two consecutive years and ranked 41st place in 2020 for work life balance among 50 other cities. However, the constant stress from a never-ending workday can be damaging to our relationships, health and overall happiness.
Chris Chancey, a career expert and CEO of amplio recruiting stated that employers who are committed to providing an environment that supports work life balance for employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism and have a more loyal and productive workforce. Achieving a good work life balance is not just about dividing your day evenly between your work and personal life, but more about having the flexibility to get things done at work while still having the time and energy to enjoy your personal time. When we can achieve that work life balance, that’s when there will be less stress, lower risk of burnout and overall, a positive effect on our well-being.
To help you in your pursuit of balancing everything and living a happy, fulfilling life, we’ve gathered some tips on maintaining a healthy work life balance:
Not Everything Has To Be Perfect
Ever heard the phrase, “Work Smarter, Not Harder”? Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but to us it means to minimize your tasks and extra steps, to ensure that your time is used wisely to accomplish your tasks more effectively. Putting in extra effort and longer hours into a certain task does not mean you are finishing them in the most efficient way.
Oftentimes, we want every work that we do to be 100% perfect so we put in even more effort and focus on that one task but this often leads to burnout easily. With a load of responsibilities already sitting on our shoulders and the need to climb the ladder at work, keeping the perfectionist habit can eventually lead to destruction. Executive Coach Marilyn Puder-York, who is the author of The Office Survival Guide, stated that as life gets busier it is hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep up with the perfectionist habit. She also added that the healthier option is to strive for excellence in our work and not for perfection
Instead of trying to ensure your work is perfect, try focusing on ways to get your work done more efficiently such as developing time management skills, finding tools or apps to boost your productivity, setting realistics goals and more. You might not get the solution to working smarter straight away, it might take days, weeks or months! But you shouldn’t be too quick to give up, continue to explore and find out what works for you that will best ensure your time is used effectively.
Pen Your Daily Goals
Do you step into the office, sit at your desks, and make a mental list of everything you need to do? Here’s a suggestion for you, try writing your daily goals or tasks on a paper in the form of a to-do list. Writing it down with pen and a paper can increase your productivity and motivate you throughout your day as you strike them off the list upon completion. It will only require a few minutes to write your tasks for the day based on the level of priority and time taken to complete it. This might help you focus at work as you have an organized workflow and a visual representation of what needs to be completed, instead of having to keep a mental note of your tasks.
Though it is important to stick to the list you have written out, it is also important to focus on one thing at a time! Looking at the long list of tasks you have to get done by the end of the day can be overwhelming. Concentrate on one task first and focus on it, only move on to the next task once you have completed it! Don’t forget to give yourself a break once in a while, celebrate the small wins like completing a few tasks on hand. Remember, it’s not about how fast you can complete your list but about how well you can get it done!
Limit Time-wasting activities
It is important to identify what’s most important to you and draw firm boundaries that will allow you to devote your time and energy to the higher priority activities and people. Knowing this will make it easier to ensure there are no time or energy wasting activities in your schedule and that your day is fully utilized with activities and people that reward you the most. If you find yourself surfing social media that is keeping you from getting your work done, establish rules or fixed social media timings to ensure the maximum productivity. If you’re asked by friends to hang out the night before a busy work day, it might be best for you to spend your time resting and getting a good night’s sleep.
To some, it might seem as if you are being selfish, but putting your well-being first is not being selfish. Taking on every single task on your list can eventually lead you to being burned out and stressed. There is just not enough time in the day to accommodate every activity. Learn to say no to some people even though it means having to disappoint people sometimes This is a step towards achieving a work life balance.
Unplug from your electronics
Simply setting your phones, ipads, laptops aside for a few hours can work wonders to your well-being as it allows you to recover from a long week and give space for thoughts and ideas. This gives you a chance to not think about work related stuff over the weekend and focus on the people around you like your family and friends. Often with the advancing technology, you are able to work anywhere with your phone and it seems like your work is never ending. But there are times when you need to shut your electronics off and live in the moment. When you don’t react to the updates from work during your rest time, you will develop a stronger habit of resilience. According to Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, resilient people will feel a greater sense of control over their lives.
Even if you are using your phone for non-work related stuff like scrolling through social media, consider just setting that aside for a few hours and going for a walk, being in nature can improve our mood. Exposure to the outdoors and a change of scenery can work wonders for your productivity and help to relieve stress. Unplugging from your electronics allows you to give your 100% to quality time with your loved ones.
Prioritizing Your Health
The most important thing that needs our utmost priority, even before our work, is our health. With hectic schedules and the busy work life, this aspect is often neglected and placed in our lowest priority. We need to look after our health physically, mentally and emotionally. This can be done simply by eating healthy, going for a run, practicing meditation or just taking mental breaks throughout the day. If you feel ill, go see the doctor and take a break. Do not force yourself to go work or to hang out with others. Overworking yourself will prevent you from getting better and possibly cause you to take more days off as you are not fully recovering. Prioritizing your health will make you a better employee as you will miss less work as you feel happier and more productive.
We suggest leaving a few hours each week for exercise, yoga or meditation. Balance does not have to be just about the completion and achievement of a task, it can include self-care to ensure your mind, body and soul is refreshed. If you have no time for these activities, try doing deep breathing exercises during your breaks or a quick five minute meditation session which can help clear your mind and boost your productivity. Your health always comes first, take care of your physical and mental health despite how busy you are!
To conclude, trying to maintain a healthy work life balance can be tough when we have a long list of tasks we want or need to do. It might require some trial and error to find the best techniques and strategies that work best for you, your work and your loved ones. But once you have discovered the right methods to have a good work life balance, the payoff will be worth it. Most importantly, remember to put yourself first every now and then. Your health and well-being is your priority!.
I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time. – Oprah Winfrey