Balancing Work and Personal Time

Without balance between your work and personal time, you risk workplace burnout. Whether you work a full-time job or work part-time, burnout is avoidable. All you need is a little bit of mindfulness and a few easy to follow tips!

What to Do at Work

Smart Goal-Setting

When you’re at work, goal-setting is important. But goals, even as they should challenge you, should also be manageable. Setting goals that are consistently too lofty and then failing to reach them will cause frustration and cause you to lose motivation. This makes you feel like you have to work harder, which then leads you to set even harder goals still. The cycle leads quickly to burnout from your job.

With manageable goals, however, you’ll have an ongoing sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to do more and ultimately get more done. All the while you’ll feel less stressed about your job. It will also help you become more realistic with regard to goal-setting and meeting deadlines. Tasks are easier to prioritize when you are making goals reachable.

Be Efficient—Don’t Procrastinate

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Many tasks you’re procrastinating on could be done quickly if you just took five minutes—they always seem larger than they really are. The more you put them off, the less efficient you become. The result is feeling that more and more tasks are piling up, increasing the temptation to procrastinate even more.

If you’re having trouble, try to break tasks up into parts. And remember –starting is half-finished! That means that most of the time, simply beginning a task takes you so much closer to finishing it that it ends up just getting done. Procrastination turns molehills into mountains. Tackle them when they’re molehills, and you’ll find yourself knocking out all your busy work fast.

Ask for Flexibility

If your company offers it, don’t be shy about asking for flex time or work from home days. After all, you can’t expect to get it if you don’t ask for it.

Telecommuting will make your sense of work/life balance more balanced, allowing you to blend work and commitments from your personal life. Just cutting back on that commute will help relieve some of your work stress, not to mention the comfort of working from home. The convenience of telecommuting is hard to beat, just make sure you create a good setting for work so that you can be just as productive as if you were at the office.

Establish Environments Where You Can Flourish

Your work environment is central to your ability to be productive and feel less stress between work and your personal life. Whether you’re in a home office or your cubicle downtown, make sure your work-space is clean and personalized.

Maybe it’s as simple as framed picture of you and your husband or wife on your honeymoon. Maybe it’s a memento from your trip to Southeast Asia with your parents. Whatever it is, make your work-space feel a bit like home.

To flourish and make the most of your work time, you should be sure to take breaks between tasks. The small bits of time you take to breathe and recharge will make you more productive overall for a longer period of time. Breaks are especially necessary when you’re bogged down in something tedious, or are switching from one type of task to an extremely different type.

Some people find that listening to music they like, or that is calming, helps them stress less and focus in on tasks. See if this works for you.

Communication is Key

Make sure to be honest, both with coworkers and superiors. Honesty is key, as the less honest you are, the more stressed you’re bound to be. The way you communicate is important as well. Rather than simply complain, be sure to offer ideas for potential solutions when you have an issue at work. By arriving with solutions, you show that you’re a problem solver.

Oh, and this should go without saying, but if you need help, ask for it! Far too many employees try to go at it alone even when they need help. This adds stress to your job that is easily avoidable.

What to Do at Home

For part-time workers and full-time employees to improve their work-life balance, what they do at home is just as important as how they are at their job. Here’s what to do at home to keep the balance healthy:

Unplug

The convenience of cell phones is a double-edged sword. They allow you to access work email and other applications any time of day or night. But they are also one of the biggest contributors to burnout. Millennial workers find it especially hard to unplug.

When you’re at home, leave your work at work. With phones, work-life integration comes naturally…however, it is increasing stress for employees. Fully unplugging is harder than ever. But turn off email notifications and don’t answer texts from co-workers. Rather than working long hours, stick to your schedule.

Don’t Over-Commit

When a boss or coworker asks if you can do something, many people have an extremely hard time saying no. But if your schedule is full, you’re already struggling to complete the tasks on your plate, or you are just feeling the stress of work reaching a breaking point, the right thing to do is to make sure you don’t over-commit.

That means saying no. Explain that you’re just too swamped at the moment to commit to more, but that you’ll check in again as soon as your own task list gets whittled down a bit more. Give yourself time to finish your highest-prioritized obligations, and don’t let your calendar overwhelm you—or you won’t be able to complete current tasks for the week, much less extra ones.

Connect With Others

Outside of work, make sure you spend plenty of time with friends, family, and others you love. Time with people who are important to you will help refresh you for when it’s time to head back to work. Without minding your family life, your enthusiasm for work will be slowly chipped away.

Stay Active

Staying active is another way to reduce stress and improve work-life balance that is far too often ignored. Whether it’s a mellow hike or an hour on the treadmill, staying active will keep your body, mind, and spirit fresh. Not only does keeping active relieve stress and anxiety, but it boosts your immune system as well.

Plan Time Off

Make plans for your vacation days so that you feel like you’ve made the most of your time off. And when you are on vacation, don’t you dare check emails or look at your work to-do list!

Final Thoughts

With work being practically ever-present in our smart phones, maintaining work-life balance is harder than ever. Ultimately, however, the “always on” mentality only stresses us out and makes us less productive. Thankfully, with the realization of this fact, flex time and work from home options are more common than ever at start-ups and established companies alike. They’ve found that when work-life balance is improved, overall job satisfaction improves along with it.

At the end of the day, however, solving work-life balance issues is up to each individual. Resist the temptation to work through your phone, manage your work-related stress, and you’ll enjoy life with improved mental health while becoming more productive at work than ever. As a result, flexible work schedules, personal leave, telecommuting options, and other perks are becoming more common.

Be sure to make the most of them!

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