Five tips for balancing your work and personal life

Is your work-life balance characterised by a constant conflict between your personal life and work roles? If so, it may help to know that you’re not alone.

The chances are, like most people, you’ve got too much work and not enough personal time. But while that’s obviously far from ideal, maintaining a healthy balance in work and life is often easier said than done.  

When you’re overworked, it’s also likely that the time you have outside your work schedule will only be spent on sleeping and resting. If that’s your case and you have a family you come home to, you probably won’t even be able to afford quality time with them. The worst is, this lack of balance may also affect your productivity at work because it’s easier to get burnt out when you’re constantly overworked.

But is work-life balance really that difficult? How does one achieve this elusive balance especially in these modern times where there are more stressors? Moreover, the popularity of portable devices, which most working individuals seem to have depended on has also blurred the line between work and personal time.

However, no matter how difficult it may seem, you must strive for a healthy work-life balance, which can also be your key to achieving physical, professional, mental, and emotional well-being. But if you still find it challenging to strike that balance, here are some helpful tips we’d recommend you start with:

1) Stop overthinking

Sometimes, things that aren’t even your responsibilities in the first place are what’s causing you unnecessary stress and anxiety. In other cases, it’s things that you have no control over, or you put too much pressure on yourself by trying to do something unrealistic. 

These are common behaviours among people who try to please everyone even when it’s unnecessary. To better balance work and personal life, take some time to step back and let go of things you can’t control and things that are not your responsibilities.

Overthinking often happens when you want to control something that you don’t have power over. Learn to let go and stop thinking of things that you can’t change. If you find this difficult, try to do a guided meditation to shift your focus and take your mind off unwanted thoughts.

2) Set clear boundaries and priorities

Many cases of unhealthy work-life balance are the result of poor boundaries or the lack of it. This is why setting and maintaining boundaries is a must if you want to balance your work and personal life effectively. However, this is particularly more difficult in work-from-home setups where boundaries are often lost.

You can begin by identifying your priorities first, then decide on the boundaries you’d like to have, both at work and at home. In the process, don’t forget that your boundaries should also be manageable and realistic. Avoid hard boundaries that’ll only be difficult for you to stick to. If you’re pressured or stressing over having to stick to your boundaries, then you’re doing it wrong. Your boundaries should be there to minimise your exposure to your common stressors.

If you can’t decide on your priorities, take time to reflect on the things that motivate you and make you feel whole. Is it your family? Your health? Or perhaps, your career? Use that to make a decision and don’t look back. It would also help to communicate these boundaries to your family and coworkers clearly so they know what to expect from you when you’re at work and at home.

On days you feel like you can’t work, especially when you just want to take a mental break, don’t be afraid to ask for some time off. You can try this out the next time you need to miss work.

3) Organise your schedule  

When you re-organise your schedule to enforce the balance you want, don’t forget to include breaks in between your work, especially if you work long hours. 

Then, set a limit on your work hours and schedule your personal time. Once your work hours end, stop working completely. If you know you won’t be able to finish your tasks on time, just organise them for your next day’s schedule. This way, you won’t have to worry about them once it’s time to unplug. Your personal time will be useless if your mind is at work when you’re supposed to be unwinding already.

This could be something like making it a point to avoid checking your emails on your days off or making sure your family’s needs at home are sorted before you leave for work. A realistic and organised schedule, along with proper preparations in between work and personal schedules will also help your mind to be more present where you are since you won’t have to worry about what you left at work or at home.

4) Focus on your strengths

If there are things you feel you can’t do or need help with, don’t force yourself to do it alone. There’s no harm in asking for help, which is better than stressing yourself. Outsource tasks that can be done better by other people, and instead, use your energy on your strengths and doing things that you know you do well.

For example, if you’re not tech-savvy but need to do something technical at work, ask other people in your team for help. Aside from getting the job done faster, you’re also saving yourself from unnecessary stress. The same principle applies at home; if you’re not good at budgeting expenses, let your partner or someone else in the family do it.

If you feel you lack a skill, it’s healthier to simply acknowledge it and seek help from professionals or people you trust. Instead of stressing about it, use the incident to learn and improve yourself. 

5) Make time for yourself

Your personal time is when you should recover from work stresses, restore your health, and at the same time, nurture your relationships outside work. 

If you live with your family, try to divide your personal time into two: quality time with your loved ones, and quality time alone, all by yourself.

For your me-time, try to have at least one hour of uninterrupted time to indulge in your little guilty pleasures. This could be just watching movies, feasting on your favourite treats, or playing video games.

You can also set aside an entire day for doing something you love like going outdoors or learning a new skill like baking or cooking. Activities that contribute to self-improvement are a more productive way of making time for yourself. 

But the best thing you can do is use this time to get back to your best health. Get a massage, build a fitness routine, and plan a healthier diet. More importantly, see your doctor if you need something checked.

Take back control

Balancing work and personal life is a process that requires concerted efforts. But as long as you stay committed and proactive, it shouldn’t be impossible to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Recognise your strengths, acknowledge your weakness, and seek help if needed. Be mindfully present wherever you are and do not stress over things you have no control over. 

Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for every job well done, may it be at work or in your personal life.