Maintaining a positive work-life balance is an important component of a happy life. It can help you feel fulfilled both professionally and personally. Knowing how to improve or maintain a healthy work-life balance can be easy if you have a proper guide. In this article, we'll discuss what work-life balance is and provide a few tips for better work-life balance.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is the ability to invest in professional and personal endeavours. The work portion of this balance refers to the time you spend at work, working from your home or performing work-related functions. The life portion of this balance usually includes your personal or social interests, time with friends and family or any other leisure activities. The ideal work-life balance varies from one person to another.
The benefits of work-life balance
Making work-life balance a priority can lead to longer tenure at a single company and higher productivity. Satisfied employees often perform work at a high level, which means better results for the company. If you find that work-life balance isn't a priority in your company, consider opening a dialogue with your employer or manager about how supporting work-life balance can benefit you and the company. Bigger workloads and longer hours without a path to balance can have the opposite effect on what they are hoping to achieve.
Tips for better work-life balance in Singapore
Here are a few tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance in Singapore:
Establish clear boundaries
Establishing boundaries at work can be an effective way to achieve work-life balance, as it ensures you have space and time available for meaningful aspects of your personal life. Possible boundaries include not checking work emails on weekends, not taking work-related documents home and leaving work on time each day, even if you're in the middle of a task. Although there may be occasional exceptions, do your best to adhere to these boundaries.
Revisit your schedule
Sometimes, achieving a healthy work-life balance requires changes in your schedule. For instance, if you had to work overtime to complete a certain task, you might consider rescheduling and cancelling other responsibilities that evening to make sure you have the mental space and time to recharge and achieve balance.
Learning delegation, both at home and at work, can help you focus your time on tasks that can help you work towards balance. At work, determine any areas where restructuring is possible. For instance, perhaps there are responsibilities you can hand off to a co-worker who has more availability. Perhaps it makes sense to complete your tasks in a group instead of individually.
Focus on prioritising important tasks
Focus on prioritising important tasks to get your work done during work hours. Identify tasks that are urgent or will result in a high impact with low input. If your tasks are not urgent, will take a long time to produce value or have a low impact, make these lower on your list. The goal is to make the most out of your workday so you can enjoy your time outside of work.
If procrastination is a problem for you, divide long-term projects into milestones to complete throughout the month or week. If you set your own work hours, make it a point to only focus on completing the tasks during a certain block of time. Find out which hours you prefer to work on a task and get to it. If necessary, set an alarm to make sure you're only focusing on the task until the alarm rings. Avoiding distractions can help you achieve balance over time.
Make concrete commitments
Making a commitment of some kind can help you stick with your personal activities. This commitment could be booking tickets to a show, volunteering to host friends at your house or signing up for a yoga class with a friend. Making a commitment can increase the likelihood that you'll follow through and uphold your desired work-life balance.
Committing to a particular activity regularly can also help you enhance work-life balance, as it gives you direction to your personal activities. By being consistent, you can develop skills, see progress over time and feel more connected to the events or activities in your personal life than if you did something one time.
Ask help from your friends
Asking a friend to join activities with you or serve as an accountability partner can also increase your likelihood of following through. It's possible that your friend is also looking for a better work-life balance and may appreciate your support in return.
If work-life balance is new for you, start small. This can be an effective strategy that's manageable not only for you but also for your friends and coworkers who might need to adjust to your new patterns. For example, you can establish one work boundary and stick with it for a few weeks before you introduce another one. You can also make one weekly commitment and introduce others over time. Starting small can increase your chance of being successful, which can motivate you to establish additional similar practices.
While it may seem counterintuitive, multitasking can help create a better work-life balance for certain people. For instance, teachers who want to leave school at a set time might prefer to grade papers at home while watching their favourite TV show. While they're technically working at the comfort of their home, this facilitates better work-life balance as it allows them to enjoy the early departure time by spending their early evening on meaningful personal activities.
Doing a working lunch or joining a conference call while driving to work are other examples of multitasking that can help you achieve better work-life balance by freeing up time elsewhere.
Fundamental to work-life balance is the idea that you're dividing your energy and time between more than one entity and are not going to be exhausted on any one thing. As the boundaries necessary to maintain this balance aren't conducive to perfectionism, it can be helpful to acknowledge that early on. For instance, if fetching your children from school provides you with meaningful work-life balance, be ready to leave work-related tasks as-is when that time of day comes.
There are times when you do your best to be more fully present at work after taking a rest day and you can't or strive to uphold personal commitments and fail. Acknowledging work-life balance as an arduous task and accepting that you might not always meet your goals along the way can help you manage your expectations.
Allow for flexibility
Achieving a work-life balance doesn't mean that life and work represent exactly 50% of your energy and time. There will be times when you have to give more to one than the other. What's important is that you're aware of the need for balance, you're establishing structures and systems to support that and you're flexible in creating new routines as necessary. Flexibility can help you see short-term adjustments in the context of the bigger picture.
Related: Preparing For The Future Of Work
Track your progress
Tracking your progress regularly can help improve your work-life balance, as you can determine what's working and what is not. Perhaps a boundary that you implemented has been difficult to maintain and you'd like to adjust it. Consider spending some time brainstorming an alternative and plan on how to discuss it with your manager or supervisor.
Communicate with your employer
Keeping an open line of communication with your employer about your workload is essential to achieving a healthy work-life balance. Your manager or supervisor is responsible for ensuring you're achieving goals both for the company and in your personal career. If you feel overworked or burned out, they will probably be unaware of it unless you tell them directly. Be professional and honest during these conversations and offer feasible solutions. This might mean redistributing workload, hiring more people or offering resources for professional development skills such as time management or setting boundaries.
Practice work-life balance stress management strategies
Even when you're applying the tips given above for achieving a healthy work-life balance, you may still experience anxiety or stress from work. Although you should choose a healthy stress-relief strategy that works for you, there are a few common activities that can reduce anxiety and stress so you can enjoy your time outside of work. These activities include:
- Regular exercise: This is a common stress-reliever that can improve your sleep and take your mind off work. Look for a type of exercise that you're likely to enjoy and make it a priority in your weekly schedule.
- Meditation: This is another option you can incorporate into your daily routine. Try guided meditation before going to sleep or a deep-breathing routine on the bus during your morning commute.
- Pursuing your hobbies: Consider any of your personal hobbies or interests that have helped you relieve anxiety. Whether you like to hike, bake, crochet, read or paint, integrating these activities into your life regularly can help you focus your life outside of work.