Our tips to creating a sustainable work life balance and routine.
Work life balance is not just a nice to have, it is essential if you want a productive and happy life. And it is becoming even more important with the shift in work situations, the blurring of work and home boundaries, new expectations, always on culture, and increasing work pressure. Part of creating a balance for yourself and those you work with is knowing why work life balance is important, what it is and what is it not.
Often times people think work life balance is simply time management, but time really is not the issue. Creating a balanced lifestyle is actually about feeling content in your work, decisions, priorities and life choices. At the heart of it, a work life balance requires you to be clear on your priorities, take control of your career and simplifying the rest. It truly is not something you find but rather create through consistent choices.
It is important to remember that work life balance really is different for everyone. Research suggests there are generational differences in what we see as balance, it is not something as simple as the hours spent in the office. Both men and women value work life balance, they just use different language to describe their ideal. When asked what balance would mean for them, women focus on words like balance and meaning, men will use words like priorities and impact. From an organizational perspective being an employer of choice would mean creating a culture that promotes sustainable work practices and demands, while encouraging a healthy and well life. Your talent is more likely to remain at work, be productive and engaged if they feel their company and the leaders support their needs for a meaningful, impactful and fulfilled life.
The importance of finding balance and joy at work
Finding a healthy balance between work and your personal life has a number of implications for an individual, team and organization’s wellbeing. A healthy work life balance will not only affect health but also relationships, team dynamics, productivity and performance. On an individual level, when a healthy balance is created, employees are less likely to suffer from burnout, chronic stress, poor mental health, physiological health issues like heart disease, hypertension or body pain, taking sick leave, fatigue and poor productivity. On an organizational and team level lacking a balance in your workplace culture could result in high rates of absenteeism, high staff turnover, presentism, disengagement, poor quality work and a lack of creativity.
The Psychology of Routine and Balance
When we think of routines, we often revert to thoughts of monotony and boredom, the same thing every day with the same people in the same place. A routine could mean doing a different job every day, travelling to a different country or meeting new people. It’s not about what your routine consists of, but a sequence of actions that you follow regularly with expected outcomes. Because as humans we are wired to see uncertainty as a risk, having a routine allows us to find flow, be more productive and effective. Routine almost acts as a protective factor in our day to day, allowing us to rather focus on what is important. That is why a routine is a good factor to include when you are striving to create balance, having a set of behaviors that supersede circumstances allows us to pool all our cognitive and emotional strength towards what is demanding in the moment, to use all our excess energy to balance our life demands.
Tips to cultivating a balance in your organization
As a leader in an organization it is important to ensure you support work life balance and a happy work environment through identifying what it means to your employees and incorporating this into your ways of work. Some tips for you as an organization and leader could be:
- Set a good example and live the balance you want to instill
- Flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work and give their best at work around the demands they may have at home
- Letting staff work from home when it suits their role and requirements
- Bringing balance into the office whether it be opportunities for exercise or healthy food choices
- Creating a comfortable work environment where employees want to be
- Encourage breaks in the work day
- Create a culture of switching off, leaving work at work
- Speak about and educate your employees about the importance of their wellbeing
Tips to Create your Own Work Life Balance
Accept that it is a balance, not perfection
It is not about finding the perfect routine or schedule, but rather striving for a realistic balance. Some days might require you to be more focused on work, others on your personal commitments. Remember it is a balance you create over time, keep the bigger picture in mind.
Plan and take control of your career
Working in a draining job or toxic environment will take a toll on your, no matter how hard you try to create a balance. You do not need to, and in fact it is probably impossible, to love every aspect of your jo but on the whole you should find some sort of reward in what you do.
Clarify your priorities
At some point you will need to realize you cannot be everything to everyone. If you find yourself in a cycle of burnout, over extending yourself and just never creating a balance – maybe it is time to simplify and figure out what it is that is important to you. Once you know what those few things are that give you meaning and impact in life you can distill your choices down to support them.
Make your health your focus
Your physical, emotional and mental health are so important, in fact without your health it is impossible to experience any type of quality of life. Make sure that you include managing your health as part of your choices and routine in creating balance.
Don’t be afraid to unplug
Switching off and creating some distance from all the noise around us can allow us to hit refresh from time to time, we all need to decompress and give ourselves some down time. There is no nobility in being always on.
Set clear boundaries
It can be important to clarify and reinforce your boundaries. When are you going to work? What hours are work calls and emails priority? When do you need to focus on the other parts of your life? Remaining consistent with your boundaries not only allows you to find a balance but also sets expectations and creates clarity for others. Consistency helpful for both you and those you work with.