Work-Life Balance: What It Is and 4 Ways to  Improve It
30 Jan 2023

Work-Life Balance: What It Is and 4 Ways to Improve It

Work-life balance is typically defined as the amount of time you spend doing your

job versus the amount of time you spend with loved ones or pursuing personal

interests and hobbies. When work demands more of your time or attention, you will

have less time to handle your other responsibilities or passions.

Many people want to achieve a greater balance between their work life and their

personal life so that work does not take up the vast majority of their time. However,

the term itself can be misleading because our careers and personal lives don't

always exist in separate spheres.

In response, work-life integration—or the synergistic blending of our personal and

professional responsibilities—has become an increasingly popular concept. From

this perspective, work is simply one aspect of our lives, which needs to be

considered alongside other important concerns, such as our home and family lives,

our community, and our personal well-being. Rather than resembling a scale with

two competing sides, work-life integration more resembles a Venn diagram of

overlapping interests. 


Why is work-life balance important?

Improving your work-life balance can potentially improve your overall well-being,

including your physical, emotional, and mental health. Studies have found that

working long hours can lead to such serious health issues as “impaired sleep,

depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease”.

Unfortunately, as these conditions arise they can also exacerbate our work-life

issues, leading to burnout and other negative repercussions.


While employers and employees might associate long working hours with increased

productivity, many researchers say otherwise. A 2014 study, for example, found that

after workers hit a certain number of hours, their productivity began to decrease as

the potential for mistakes and injuries increased. Achieving a healthy work-life

balance, therefore, can not only potentially reduce stress and improve emotional

states but also increase overall productivity and employers’ bottom line. 

4 ways to improve your work-life balance 

Below, we've compiled tips for improving your work-life balance. You can begin

trying out one at a time or implementing a few at once. Remember that finding an

approach that works for you is a process and will take time.  


1. Pause and evaluate

Taking time out to understand how the various parts of your life are impacting one

another is a necessary step in developing a new work-life integration that serves

your needs. Pause and consider your current work-life situation; ask yourself how

you feel. Some questions you might reflect on include:

  •  Am I spending enough quality time doing what I really want? 
  •  Am I committing enough time and energy to people or things that are meaningful to me? 
  •  Do I still feel aligned to my professional or personal goals? Why or why not?

As you think through these complex personal questions, journaling your thoughts

and feelings can be a good way to identify the areas you feel need the biggest

adjustments. Ultimately, these questions should help you gain greater clarity on

your current situation. 


2. Assess your priorities

Once you have a better sense of what you'd like to adjust, you'll want to begin

identifying what you want to prioritize. Some questions you might ask yourself


  •  What really matters to me and am I doing enough of it? 
  •  Where can I make compromises? Where can’t I? Where have I been making too many compromises?

3. Time management

Now that you know what your priorities are—whether that's spending more time at

work to aim for a promotion or cutting back on after-hours emails by establishing

boundaries—it's important to figure out how to better manage your time.

Review how you currently spend your time and look for ways to adjust your schedule

where possible. You can "chunk" your time as a way to focus on one area at a time,

or use a matrix system to establish your priorities when new tasks pop up

unexpectedly. Learn more about how to manage your time to boost your

productivity and well-being.


4. Establish boundaries

Establishing boundaries is a crucial part of time management. And communicating

those boundaries will be equally important. If you can no longer respond to emails

promptly after hours because you're with your family, your team will need to know.

Work boundaries fall into one of three categories—physical, emotional, or time. Start

by setting small boundaries and expand from there. Learn more about how to set

better boundaries at work.

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