Would you like to kick off the new year with a bang? Getting your life into a balanced state is a great place to start. Let’s take on this challenge of having a balanced life — and make 2023 the best year yet.
To those who are unfamiliar with the concept, balancing work and life involves adjusting priorities and balancing personal and professional commitments. By better balancing your time, you can ensure an equal distribution of your mental capacity between the two areas. While time and energy aren’t always split evenly, finding a balance that works best for you is key.
Why’s a balanced life important? Research shows that keeping a healthy life balance is important not only for your health and happiness but for your overall well-being as well. Furthermore, it can boost your career success and productivity.
Additionally, when you find balance in your life, you are better able to concentrate your efforts and energy on achieving your goals, taking productive actions, and moving forward meaningfully. Also, when you make time for me-time and breathe can be less stressful.
As a result, Get A Balanced Life Month is celebrated every January to encourage people to cultivate good habits at the start and keep them going through the year.
History of Get a Balanced Life Month
Back in the day, blue-collar workers worked 70-100 hours a week. In fact, factory workers in England worked 16 hours a day, six days a week during the Industrial Revolution. Suffice it to say, it was a time when work-life balance didn’t exist.
It became mainstream after Henry Ford established the ‘nine to five’ workday in the 1920s. A number of years of pressure from North American labor organizations resulted in this systemic change. There was, however, nothing new about this idea. The phrase “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” was coined by Welsh manufacturer Robert Owen in 1817.
When Henry Ford established the ‘nine-to-five’ workday, he realized that workers were more productive when they worked 40 hours per week as opposed to 70 to 100 hours initially. Consequently, the 40-hour working week was incorporated into American labor laws in 1940. A 40-hour workweek was implemented by the U.S. government on October 24, 1940, following years of worker movements. As a result, workers had more time to spend with their families and friends.
However, in terms of work-life balance, 94% of service professionals in the U.S. spend more than 50 hours working each week, many of them on weekends. Among Americans, 48 percent claim to be workaholics, but when seeking employment, 72% prioritize work-life balance.
How Do You Know Your Life Is Off-Balance?
If you notice signs of burnout, you might want to take action. Common symptoms of burnout include chronic stress, perfectionism, unhappiness at work or in your relationships, as well as not taking enough breaks from your busy schedule.
There are several signs of burnout, including:
- Keeping people at a distance emotionally
- Emotional or physical exhaustion
- Anger, irritability, or sadness
- A headache or stomachache
- Performance reductions
You might be experiencing burnout if you find yourself dreading more things than you are looking forward to in your life. Burnout is inevitable from time to time. However, it can also serve as a chance to reevaluate your priorities.
Strategies to Maintain Balance in Life
1. Make sure all aspects of your life are integrated.
“Stop seeing work, personal time, and social times as separate compartments,” suggests Gustavo Razzetti, a change leadership consultant and speaker. “Rather than competing against each other, they should collaborate.”
“Removing this imaginary wall will release a lot of tension. Integrate all aspects by applying learnings across them all,” he adds.
To put it another way, instead of keeping things separate, the key is to connect them. Consider working from home, incorporating remote work time, or finding ways to efficiently handle personal errands and tasks at work, if possible. It’s all about balancing responsibilities well to create a day that suits you.
2. Learn to prioritize.
Your everyday life shouldn’t be crammed with as many things as you can. Rather, it is about deciding what is important (and what isn’t) and choosing how much time and energy you should devote to it.
Is it really necessary to answer work emails at family dinners? Would you rather save money for a down payment on a dream home or buy that expensive luxury car? To stay focused, manage your time effectively, and avoid burnout, evaluate your priorities regularly.
3. Plan ahead while being flexible.
The ability to organize various aspects of one’s life is valuable, regardless of whether you are someone who has a detailed planner or someone who finds making a to-do list stressful. As for me, planning ahead is simply writing down my priorities. From there, I add them to my calendar, so I have a deadline.
Regardless of how you plan ahead, flexibility is key. It’s okay if you didn’t get started on paper one day due to a schedule conflict or not feeling up to it. It’s as simple as rearranging your schedule. In fact, that’s why I purposefully leave blank slots in my calendar.
The goal of balancing life is to reduce stress and increase satisfaction. If your method of organizing things causes more stress, you should change it. If that is the case, planning defeats the whole point of helping keep things in balance.
4. Just say no.
Make a list of all the things you need to do. Which ones do you want to do? Which ones must you accomplish? In order to maintain balance in all areas, it’s ideal for mixing the two.
Take a look at your list and see if any “have to” items can be crossed off. Start by asking yourself: What are the most beneficial things for my well-being? As a second step, be sure to choose “want to” items that really resonate with you and feed your emotional needs.
If you aren’t used to saying no to yourself and others, you might find this difficult. However, saying no to your own well-being is a sign of emotional intelligence (EQ). According to research, people with high EQ levels have better mental health and perform better at work.
5. Learn how to manage your stress.
We all experience stress from time to time. However, the way you handle it will depend on your attitude.
Other people may be able to deal with things easily while you find them overwhelming. The ability to balance work, family, and leisure requires skillful time management. Planning and staying calm are helpful.
So, how can you learn how to manage your stress? It might be a good idea to take a five-minute vacation. Just set aside five minutes each day for mental health breaks. For instance, go into another room or close your office door. From there, do whatever makes you feel refreshed, such as daydreaming, meditating, or journaling.
6. Keep toxins to a minimum.
This has nothing to do with chemicals. However, that might also be helpful. Instead, minimize negative influences in your life.
In other words, avoid toxic people such as whiners, complainers, and people with poor attitudes. At the very least, minimize your contact with them and tune them out as much as possible. Whenever possible, surround yourself with positive, supportive, and can-do individuals.
7. Don’t forget to nurture yourself and take care of yourself.
You’ve no doubt heard this before. But, if you are unhealthy, it is hard to be productive. As such, make rest, exercise, and eating properly a priority in your life this new year — and keep prioritizing this goal.
Often, we believe we can consume junk food, exercise infrequently, and function adequately while burning the candle at both ends. At some point, this lifestyle catches up with even the best of us. And ultimately, this can lead to burnout.
You should dedicate time each day to an activity you enjoy, such as walking, exercising, listening to music, or engaging in a favorite hobby. You can also unwind by reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath after a hectic day.
8. Let go of perfectionism.
A balanced life means letting go of perfectionist tendencies. Career burnout and workplace stress can result from perfectionism in the long run. You should focus more on productivity and completion instead of perfectionism.
Done is usually better than perfect most of the time. Whenever you feel like you need to improve a presentation or double-check a report, you can always go back and make a few adjustments. A higher level of personal satisfaction and improved work quality can be achieved by letting go of perfectionism, resulting in more freedom for creativity and flow.
9. Disconnect and unplug.
Unplugging and logging off are two crucial keys to creating more balance in your life. When working remotely or at home, this is especially important. Despite its many benefits, working at any time of the day comes with several drawbacks, as well.
Make it a habit to disconnect at the end of the day. For your personal time, set your computer notifications to turn off from the end of your workday to the beginning of the next so that you are less distracted by work. Also, avoid checking your email during non-working hours and unplug from your smartphone.
10. Make sure you don’t feel pressured to live a certain way.
If you see everyone else succeeding at other things, you can easily feel like a failure.
A colleague might be on a particular diet that energizes them. Wouldn’t it be great if you did that? Perhaps there’s a friend who is volunteering to build up their resume and finds it very rewarding. If they’re making the time for this, how come you aren’t?
Despite not exactly being wrong, you live your life as you see fit. Whenever you feel that you aren’t accomplishing certain things, don’t feel shamed into thinking you aren’t as accomplished as you should.
I understand that it’s really hard to let go when we compare ourselves to others. However, I promise that you will be happier if you live your life the way you want.
For example, a friend who is volunteering or exercising for an hour each day may not have children. So they have the time to do these things. And, as a parent, you don’t have the accessibility. But maybe you’re getting enough physical activity and happiness playing with your children.
Image Credit: Sebastian Arie Voortman; Pexels; Thank you!