I believe the phrase “work hard, play harder” is the simplest definition of work-life balance. Work-life balance is finding a happy medium between your professional and personal life. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to resemble an equal balance, and it most likely won’t. But, what it means is that you feel overall satisfied when plugged into work and feel rejuvenated or reset when you log off for the day or weekend. Yes, I said log-off, meaning to fully disconnect from work. Keep in mind, a work-life balance needs to represent what works best for you. For myself, I like to make sure I conduct a daily check-in a few times each week.
I like to determine how I feel during the week to set up personal goals. These goals help me to find my balance. Overall, I feel more motivated and satisfied to kick-start a new week by breaking it all down to three categories – work, family and friends, and self.
During this pandemic, many employees are currently working remotely, which depending on your situation, can be positive or negative. The dynamics of changing our work environment, working overtime hours, and lack of logging off can cause added stress. How can you change that?
- Prioritize your time – Create a list and organize what’s most important to accomplish that day or week and set goals or deadlines according to each item listed, remember to concentrate on one task at a time
- Set up a defined lunch break – Step away from your workspace, enjoy your lunch in a different room at home or outside, run some errands (I prefer going to the grocery store during this time), or take a 30-minute walk.
- Take a nap – Since I perform best during the mid-morning or afternoons, I find taking a quick 30-minute nap, if possible, during a workday helps me to reset and finish the day strong
- Have set hours – Take a few moments and confirm with your manager if you can have a set schedule. If so, work your schedule hours and log off once it ends. I also prefer working in block times. Block timing means you are focused on your work tasks for at least 1-2 hours without distractions. To do this, I set up meetings on my calendar, so my block times are scheduled
- Stay focused – Figure out what works best for you. I enjoy playing music, Audible books, or doing some quick 5-minute mediation exercises
- Setup boundaries – Do you receive nightly or early morning phone calls or e-mails? Kindly remind your co-workers, other staff, or clients of your “office hours.” Once you can disconnect from work without interruptions, you will be more stress-free
Family and Friends
I enjoy spending quality time with my loved ones, including family and friends. They play an integral role in my life, and it’s always great to connect with them as much as possible. Since I currently live away from my hometown, I enjoy visiting my family about once a month. Of course, due to social distancing, it has lessened, and my life has been altered. But, I have found some creative ways to still feel connected to my parents. For my friends, it’s been significantly slowing down and taking a moment to check-in. As an extrovert, a simple text or phone call, has been great to fill in the times of being home. But, there are some other fun ways to stay connected.
- Video Chat –Zoom has been a lifesaver for most of my social life. Every week, one of my close friends hosts a game night thru Zoom. He’s a tech guy, so he has found a way to hook up Xbox to his computer so we can play games. Now, if you don’t have a tech friend like myself, there are many games you can play thru Zoom like Charades or create an In-Home Scavenger Hunt.
- Schedule a Happy Hour, Brunch, or a Dinner Party – Video Chat has given us the option to reconnect with a few minutes or hours. I enjoy cooking a nice breakfast, grabbing a drink, and sitting down to some girl talk for a few hours. My friends and I try to schedule a video chat at least once a month since we have busy lives
- Sending recorded messages – Lately, my parents and I have been recording messages and texting them back and forth. It’s always great to hear their voices, even for just a few seconds to start the workday
- Have a virtual dance party or karaoke night– Setup a Zoom meeting, invite some people, and let the music play.
- Send a letter, a postcard, or an e-mail to a loved one
- Host a movie night complete with all of your favorite snacks
- Enjoy a themed night – Get creative, dress up, have a themed dinner, decorations, etc.
- Play outside– go for a hike (maintain 6 feet distance from others), go for a late-night stroll, or have a picnic/BBQ
Self-care is the best care. I know it sounds cliché to say this but, it’s true. It’s hard to remember that our self-care is the most important aspect of achieving work-life balance. I know there are times when we are so focused on work and family that we don’t take adequate time to ourselves. I always try to remind myself that to keep my balance, I must take care of myself: mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- Conduct a check-in– I enjoy taking a few minutes before and after my workday to assess how I feel, celebrate my accomplishments, and determine any improvements. My check-in is usually in silence for about 5-10 minutes, where I practice deep breathing and some meditation. Afterward, I feel lighter, less stressed, and more in tuned for the rest of the day.
- Do something you enjoy – Set a block “me time” which can include working out, cooking, reading a book, work on a hobby, pampering, or binge-watch a new series
- Learn to be in the present moment – Be present where you are, turn off notifications, reduce or eliminate multi-tasking, and enjoy your time
- Schedule recurring hangouts or activities with family or friends
- Gratitude Journal – I enjoy keeping a log of things or experiences that I am grateful for and thankful for each week or celebrate my successes. it’s always amazing to read them when I am having a rough day or just want my mood lifted even more
- Sleep – Sleeping plays an integral role in your stress levels, productivity, and overall wellness. Remember an adult needs an average of 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- I hope you will add some of these tips that I use in your daily lives. Once you start finding your work-life balance, you will see an immediate difference in your life. You will feel more motivated, productive, and overall happy each day.
Written by: Ashely Jones, Human Resources Generalist EELD