The best thing you can do to achieve work-life balance is to find work that you enjoy. If not, you’ll always be wishing you could be doing something else, and life will feel out of balance.
I’ve met people who work long hours but are genuinely happy. They cannot imagine what they would do with their waking hours if they did not do what they did. In other words, they love what they do.
For the less fortunate others, here are some tips to achieve work-life balance anyway. Essentially, introduce more ‘life’ into your ‘work’.
1. Take productive breaks
Our brains need a break every 90 minutes. If not, your thinking slows down and you become less productive. Taking breaks is therefore good for work-life balance and making work more productive too.
Take short breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon. But instead of yakking at the water cooler or snacking in the pantry, find an empty room to call your family or friends just to say hi and have a quick chat. For for a gym or yoga session over lunch if you can.
This way, you will achieve more than just work at the end of a long day. Over time, life will feel more balanced as you’re taking care of your other needs daily.
2. Socialise at work
On days when you’re not working out over lunch, arrange to meet others. A good rule of thumb is to never eat alone. This networking habit is good for your career. Also you won’t feel bad about longer lunches because you’re kind of working!
Instead of talking only about work, allow the topic to switch to each other’s families, hobbies, or any other topic. Remember this isn’t actually a business lunch. It’s a social lunch, that has longer term benefits for your career.
3. Learn to focus on one thing at a time
Avoid thinking about work when you’re not at work. When you’re at home, focus completely on your family. Play with the kids and listen to your spouse with 100% focus.
If you think about work while spending time with your family, nobody wins. Your family feels neglected because they know your attention is elsewhere. And your work is not getting done either. You will feel perpetually exhausted because you are ‘working’ all the time, even when you’re not at work.
Simiarly, focus completely on work while at work. You will get a task done in less time than if you were constantly distracted. The quality of your work will also be better.
How to achieve work life balance
In short, the way to achieve work-life balance is to put more life into your work, and not let work intrude into your life.