In today’s tech-intensive world, it’s easy to be drawn into an ‘always working’ state of mind. Many employees and contractors feel pressured to constantly check their emails, respond to texts, and log into their social media feeds – even when they’re ‘off the clock’. This constant stress can lead to a loss of productivity, burnout, and serious health consequences, both mental and physical.
The stresses caused by these digital demands is so great that in France, the government is attempting to pass legislation that provides legal protection for workers, giving them the “right to disconnect” from work-related devices in the evening and on weekends.
Of course, not everyone lives in a country where lawmakers place a high value on work-life balance, so it’s up to each individual, manager and company to make downtime a priority.
Here are five things you can do to achieve a positive work-life balance:
Landing and keeping a good job these days has become highly competitive, driving workers to constantly stretch their limits in an effort to stand out. Unfortunately, non-stop over-achievement leads to burnout, so it’s important to know what your personal limits are, and stick to them. Once you define your boundaries, you’ll feel a greater sense of control over your life, and your colleagues will know exactly what to expect from you.
Learn to Prioritize
Take inventory of what’s really important in both your career and your personal life. What are your goals and what are you doing to achieve them? By assessing where you are at and where you’d like to be, you’ll be able to identify and focus on the activities that add value to your life and eliminate the ones “that don’t enhance your career or personal life.”
Create a Buffer between Work & Home
With the increase in mobile offices and work-at-home arrangements, the lines between your workplace and your home can get pretty blurry, leading to that ‘always on’ feeling that plagues so many workers these days.
Try to create a separation between your workplace (or work-related activities) and your personal life by building a separate space in your home for a home office, enjoying some relaxing music during your commute, or marking the end of the work day by reading the paper, watching a quick video, or taking a walk.
Power Off Electronic Devices
People who have successfully achieved a positive work-life balance consistently take control of their time, and one of the ways they do this is by turning off their electronic devices when they want to fully appreciate the people and places around them. Mobile connectivity has created unrealistic expectations that everyone should be accessible 24/7, leading to a non-stop barrage of notifications, updates, requests and information that can prevent you from ever truly relaxing.
By powering down your tablet, smartphone and laptop at regularly-scheduled intervals, you’ll be able to live ‘in the moment’, and take a step back from the constant demands of multi-tasking. People who make a point of ‘unplugging’ report feeling a “greater sense of control over their lives,” which ironically, leads to greater productivity and achievement.
It’s all too easy to work through your lunch hour, take on extra projects that eat in to your breaks, and dismiss downtime in favor of extra job-related duties. Make a point of actually scheduling in a date night with your loved one, booking social time with friends, and even include some alone time on your calendar.
These days, it’s not hard to fall into an unhealthy pattern of working too much – by focusing on what’s important to you and recognizing behaviors, attitudes, and activities that negatively impact your career and personal life, you can look forward to greater satisfaction and a heightened sense of control in all aspects of your life.