Tips, such as taking regular breaks and unplugging after work, can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Balancing life and work not only benefits you, but also your employer.

Many companies talk about offering a “good” work-life balance as a means to attract or retain employees. Though their exact meaning may vary based on the occupation, it often means they do one or more of the following:

  • offer flexible schedules
  • options to work from home
  • several days off and holidays

Finding a balance as an employee can have important impacts on your health and overall satisfaction. It can also impact your overall job performance.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines work-life balance simply as the number of hours spent doing your job vs the number of hours you spend doing things you enjoy.

Researchers note that many people think of work-life balance as balancing family time and work. In a 2020 study, researchers noted a lack of research that examines other aspects of “life” beyond the family.

They noted that current research has largely focused on working parents whose “life” consists of taking care of their dependent children. They argue that “life” in the diverse workspace, encompasses much more than simply taking care of children or managing family time.

Another review of studies from 2021 explored gaps in research about work-life balance. They noted several areas where more research is needed, including how:

  • employee education affects work-life balance
  • impact of income on work-life balance
  • domestic helps impact
  • individual (employee) strategies play an important role in work life balance
  • implemented strategies at companies worked after some time

Understanding these areas could help increase the number of people across all demographics and occupations to achieve better work life balance.

The importance of work-life balance

Work-life balance plays several important roles for both the employee and the employer.

Achieving a “good” work-life balance can help reduce employee stress. Stress can lead to drops in productivity due to issues with concentration.

It can also lead to changes in personality that affects personal and professional relationships. It may also lead to mood changes, such as increased irritability and depression.

Employers have taken notice of the benefits of work-life balance. Happy workers are generally more productive, take less sick days, and are less likely to leave for another job.

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If you need help achieving a better work life balance, you may find one or more of the following tips can help you reach a better balance.

1. Set manageable goals at work

Manageable goals can differ for everyone. You should consider setting manageable, achievable daily goals. Accomplishing them can help you feel more satisfied.

You should also consider setting realistic deadlines and workloads. Making a list and checking off the most important tasks first can help. You may also find tasks that you can simply remove because they’re not important.

2. Divide responsibilities evenly at home

If you find that you have a to-do list at home that’s longer than your current work to-do list, you may want to consider dividing up your chores among other family members.

Work-life balance involves finding time to do the things you enjoy and that bring you satisfaction, so asking for help with unpleasant daily or weekly tasks may help.

3. Increase efficiency at work

Increasing efficiency at work (and home) can help you feel like work and life are in better balance. Ways to increase efficiency can include:

  • not putting large tasks off for long periods
  • setting small goals on larger projects
  • reducing “busy work”
  • giving yourself small rewards for hitting different milestones such as a short break

4. Take a break

Breaks at work or at home can help improve your mood and reduce stress. For employers, it can increase productivity because it can help reset your mind and help you re-engage in what you’re doing.

Other ways to take a break can include:

  • use your paid time off to go on vacation or take a few days off
  • go out to lunch with coworkers
  • take time to engage in a hobby or interest at home

5. Unplug

During the work day, try to remove distractions from your phone or other devices, such as social media or other notifications. After hours, avoid checking your work email and unplug from anything work related.

6. Take care of yourself

An important aspect related to finding balance is taking time to take care of yourself. This can include taking steps such as:

  • regular physical activity or exercise
  • taking sick or mental health days as needed
  • getting enough rest each night
  • seeking help from friends, family, or professionals for mental health or other concerns

Employers have good reason to pay attention to work-life balance. According to Mental Health America (MHA), improving the balance can help employees feel less stress, which can lead to less turn over, improved productivity, and fewer sick days.

Some policies that workplaces are doing to help with work life balance in recent years include:

  • offering extensive or flexible paid time off (PTO)
  • options to work from home
  • changes to parental or other leave policies to be more flexible
  • respecting working hours
  • reminding employees about their benefits
  • having management set good examples such as not sending out emails after hours and sticking to normal working hours

A “good” work-life balance means you’ll feel less stressed, which can lead to better productivity, fewer sick days being used, and staying at your current position for longer. It also means you will likely be overall happier with your life and occupation.

You can take several steps to improve your balance, such as unplugging, taking breaks, and taking care of yourself. You may find that you will need to make changes at both work and home to find the balance that works best for you.

If you’re having trouble finding balance, you may want to discuss your concerns with family members or your employer. You may also want to seek professional mental health services to help you address stress and any other mental health concerns that may come up.