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How to Balance Work and Life in an Increasingly Connected World

Maintaining a harmonious work-life balance is vital to succeeding in one’s career and personal life. However, numerous impedimentsincluding our constant connectivity, the demands of the home and workplace, and other stimuli—make achieving this balance extremely challenging.

When our priorities are unclear and our schedules are overloaded, we’re in danger of experiencing burnout and other negative consequences. Chronic stress and burnout can negatively impact our personal and professional lives, as well as wreak havoc on our health and sense of well-being.

But before we discuss the best ways to achieve this much-needed balance, we need to first properly define what work-life balance is.  

What is Work-life Balance? 

While there is no universal definition, many life coaches and mental health professionals define work-life balance as the individual’s ability to successfully balance the demands of their career and personal life.

Work and life balance can also be defined as a person’s ability to separate their work from their personal life, without one area encroaching upon the other. Achieving this balance is extremely vital for our continued health and sense of well-being. It also impacts the quality of our work and relationships, including our relationships with our family members, friends, and colleagues. 

The Dangers of Chronic Stress & Workplace Burnout  

When people are unable to properly manage the demands of their work and personal lives, chronic stress and workplace burnout could result. Americans, in particular, are notorious for working the longest hours among developed countries, with 85.8% of men and 66.5% of women working more than 40 hours per week.

Chronic stress is the most common health issue in the workplace and can lead to physical consequences like hypertension, heart problems, and chronic aches and pains. Chronic stress can also negatively impact our mental health, leading to anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

When our jobs are unreasonably demanding and we don’t get enough rest, the end result is often workplace burnout. Overwork and high levels of stress can lead to heightened irritability, poor decision making, and decreased work performance.  


12 Steps to Achieving Better Work-life Balance

Check out these actionable work-life balance tips if you need help with achieving greater equilibrium:  

1. Establish your priorities.

If you wish to avoid burnout, you’ll need to list down your priorities and drop commitments and activities of lesser importance. It isn’t your job to do everything or be there for everyone. If your schedule is overloaded and you’re constantly being pulled in multiple directions, you’ll quickly find yourself exhausted, frantic, and accomplishing very little.  

Truly successful people are able to identify what really matters to them and pursue goals that help them realize their deepest aspirations. Staying committed to your top priorities also means saying no to people and activities that simply drain you of your time and energy.  

This same logic should also govern your daily schedule and activities. Avoid or minimize time-wasting activities. If email and social media notifications are keeping you from being productive, consider turning them off during work hours (or in the case of emails, reply in batches). Our smartphones can also be major sources of distraction, so you may want to silence notifications during work hours if you want to move the needle forward.    

Need more help with sorting out your priorities? Use the Eisenhower Matrix to help you sort out your tasks based on urgency and importance.  

2. Disengage from toxic activities & people.  

Toxic activities and people can be major sources of stress, and if you give them undue attention, they’ll keep you from being focused and productive. You’ll also see your physical and mental health take a nosedive, as dealing with toxic triggers can have the same impact on your well-being as chronic stress.  

Whether it’s gossipy neighbors and co-workers, or family members and friends who insist on involving you in their endless intrigues, learn how to disengage from toxic triggers. Your sense of well-being will improve and you’ll have more energy to focus on what really matters to you. 

3. Develop healthy habits. 

When you’re dealing with stress or an overloaded schedule, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habitslike eating junk food, smoking and drinking, avoiding exercise, and sleeping irregularly. Chronically stressed individuals are also more prone to gastrointestinal problems, headaches and migraines, weight fluctuations, and a host of other ailments.

The best way to combat these negative states is to develop healthy habits. If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, seek professional treatment. Manage stress levels by eating healthy and balanced meals, reducing alcohol intake and cigarettes, as well as sleeping regular hours.

Integrating exercise into your daily routine is another great stress management technique. If going to the gym isn’t feasible, consider brisk walking before work or during your lunch break. What’s important is that you’re enjoying the many benefits of exercise, as well as improving your mental health and mood.

A holistic approach to wellness also includes the mind and soul. Consider meditating, doing yoga, or adopting a spiritual practice like praying or going to church. Focus on activities that calm the mind and lift the spirit as an antidote to the demands of everyday life.

Helping other people can also radically change your perspective on life and improve your sense of well-being. Consider volunteering at a local charity or performing some sort of community work to help you along the path to wholeness. 

4. Learn to unplug.  

While technology has made remote work and staying in contact with others a lot easier, it also means we’re constantly being barraged by messages, emails, and different forms of media. With so much stimuli being thrown at our faces, it can be difficult to tune out the distractions and focus on our own thoughts.

To maintain your sanity, you’ll need to tune out the outside world from time to time. Your “me time” could be a few hours in the evening before bed or a couple of hours every Saturday morning. You may use this time to do anything that helps you feel centered: listen to music, read a book, write a journal entry, or sip a cup of coffee while brainstorming your goals.

You can use your personal downtime to rest, recharge, and separate other people’s ideas from your own. Creative breakthroughs often occur during times of quiet contemplation, so never take these for granted. 

5. Get some rest. 

If you’re the typical working professional, you’re probably not getting nearly enough sleep. According to Gallup, Americans get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep each night, which is less than the seven to eight hours recommended by physicians.

Your body needs to be well-rested if you want to deal with the day’s challenges. Consider dropping some lesser tasks or reducing your work hours to squeeze in some extra sleep if you’re not getting the recommended number of hours each night. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks throughout the day if you need to recharge. Put the smartphone down and take 15- to 30-minute naps in the afternoon to help you re-energize. 

6. Set boundaries between the workplace & your personal life. 

A major key to achieving proper balance is to set definite boundaries between your work and personal life. Once the work day is done, refrain from answering work-related emails or chat messages. If possible, use separate computers and smartphones for your personal and professional contacts.

If you’re working from home or are sheltering in place because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy for the lines between your work and personal life to become blurredwhich is why it’s important to adhere to a strict work and personal schedule, and let everyone know when you’re available for specific activities.

You’ll accomplish a lot more and feel less overwhelmed if you’re able to keep both realms separate.  

7. Spend time with the people you love. 

As the old cliche goes, no one ever lay on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time in the office. If you’re fortunate enough to have a loving spouse and children, as well as great friends and extended family, do yourself a favor and spend more quality time with them. 

Consider having dinner with your family every night (or several times a week if your schedule is erratic). Make sure to check-in on family members and friends periodically to keep these bonds strong. 

If you have a pet, spend time playing with them and showing them affection. The quality of your relationships will greatly boost your sense of well-being and will help you refocus your priorities when you become too work-obsessed. 

8. Explore passions outside of your day job. 

In this day and age, it’s easy to allow our jobs to define us and ignore aspects of our character that don’t fit within the narrow definition of our professions. Each of us is blessed with an infinite number of skills, inclinations, and passions that fall outside the spectrum of what we do for a living. If we want to thrive outside of our LinkedIn profiles, we need to explore these other aspects of the self.

If you have a passion for baking, researching historical events, or kayaking, make time in your schedule to indulge these passions. Involve your friends or family, or get in touch with like-minded individuals. When you’re thriving in your personal life, your professional life will reap commensurate benefits. 

9. Go on a real vacation. 

Take advantage of your company’s PTOs by going on a vacation. A real vacation. One that involves little to no telecommuting, work Gmail, or Slack. Whether it’s a staycation at a log cabin or a two-week tour of southern Europe, keep work obligations to a minimum and make time to explore nature, cities, and other unexplored marvels. 

Exploring the world will add depth to your perceptions and layers of richness to your character. It may even inspire you to innovate processes at work or come up with new ideas that will Fastrack your career success. 

10. Adopt a flexible work schedule. 

Adopting a flexible work schedule is a great way of promoting work-life balance and minimizing chronic stress. In a nutshell, a flexible work schedule allows employees to set their own work hours (within reason) and focus on delivering projects in a timely manner rather than just clocking in hours.

According to TotalWellness, employees who worked flexible hours reported higher levels of job satisfaction, productivity, and happiness. They were also less likely to develop unhealthy habits and chronic stress.

Just as importantly, workers who worked flexible hours were able to manage their personal and work priorities more effectively. If your organization hasn’t adopted this arrangement, consider pitching it to your boss or HR. 

11. Accept that there is no perfect work-life balance. 

Achieving balance in this area means letting go of any perfectionist tendencies. You’re unlikely to achieve a perfect balance between your work and personal obligations due to the unpredictability of life. 

You’ll also need to be more flexible when it comes to balancing both aspects of your life. There will be days when increased work commitments will cause the scales to be lopsided. You can make up for this by setting aside more time during the rest of the week to deal with family matters and other personal responsibilities. It’s all about making adjustments and responding to disruptors as they happen. 

12. Delegate secondary tasks to a virtual assistant.  

Even if you’ve identified your top priorities and have made a commitment to pursuing your biggest goals, secondary tasks will still require your attention. Whether it’s managing your business and personal expenses, scheduling meetings and appointments, or ordering groceries and office supplies online, the non-core aspects of your life still need to run smoothly if you don’t want to run into problems.

Hiring a dedicated virtual assistant to manage the non-core aspects of your business and personal life will free up more time in your schedule. This gives you more time to focus on the projects (and spend more time with the people) that matter most to you.

Sigrid.AI provides personal process outsourcing solutions that support the way people work so that they can live rich, meaningful lives. By delegating secondary admin, creative, and technical tasks to a personal executive assistant, you’ll achieve a more dynamic work-life balance and enjoy a better quality of life.

Are you interested in learning more about how to hire a Virtual Assistant? Read our guide 'How to Hire a Virtual Assistant: A Complete Guide'. 

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