From heavy workloads to high-pressure bosses, the idea of achieving work-life balance can feel far-fetched. However, it might be time to figure out how to better manage both your professional and personal lives or else you could run yourself straight into burnout. In fact, the effects of a negative work-life balance could be more dire than burnout. Recent research reveals that people with high stress levels and little control have lower life expectancy rates than people who are balanced and in-control. Stressed-out people are at higher risks for heart disease, high blood pressure and various other health conditions.
So, what’s the solution? Go above and beyond to strike a healthy work-life balance. Of course, that’s easier said than done. And while many articles you read will tell you the obvious answers like get more sleep, shut off your phone and take a vacation, we’ve uncovered four science-backed and not-so-obvious hacks for achieving work-life balance.
1. Don’t telecommute
While telecommuting might sound like an ideal situation (hey — who wouldn’t want to work from bed?), it turns out it can have an impact on a person’s work-life balance. Because if you’re working from home all the time, it can be difficult to separate the two.
A recent study revealed that people who work from home, part-time or full-time, end up working longer hours than people who go into an office environment everyday. According to the research, people end up working longer hours because they feel more pressure to show their bosses that they are being productive.
2. Take mental health days
Your mental health is directly impacted by the work you do and the environment you’re in. In order to keep your stress levels low, morale high and life balanced, it’s incredibly important to keep your mental health in check.
In an interview with PsychCentral, marriage and family therapist Shelly Smith recommended, “One day per month as a personal ‘mental health day’ and taking a full week off every three to four months for a mental reset. Whether it’s vacation or staycation, clearing your mind for an extended period of time can allow you to reap benefits back in the office.”
3. Cut down on meetings
Many of us can agree that we’ve all had instances where we’ve found ourselves in unproductive, long and unnecessary meetings.
In fact, earlier research by Atlassian discovered that on average, people waste a whopping 31 hours a month on unproductive meetings. That’s over three quarters of your average 40-hour workweek and time that could have been spent on productive tasks or leaving work early to spend time with family.
By cutting down on meetings and attending only those necessary, you’ll be saving precious time that could be better spent elsewhere.
4. Become a top performer
While it might sound ironic, one of the best ways to achieve work-life balance is by working extra hard to position yourself as a top performer at your organization. Recent research, which analyzed data from workers across 27 different European countries, found that top-performing employees had the best work-life balance.
These skilled, experienced and successful workers were found to have the most control of their work schedules because they had great reputations around the office and excellent and trusting relationships with their bosses.