Practice these 6 tips for a better work-life balance

After working with countless working professionals who struggle with work-life balance, I am sharing practical tips to help you to achieve it. I have observed that people with work-life balance problems often overcommit and take on too many work tasks, strive for perfection at work, have difficulty saying no, lack boundaries and put their own well-being last. This in turn can lead to psychological issues like anxiety and stress, poor sleep, burnout, and an inability to unplug from work and overall low job satisfaction. It is at this stage when I would typically be asked to come into the picture as a psychologist to intervene. The stage when someone realises they are under high psychological distress.

Work-life balance is a struggle for many people. The types of working professionals I see that struggle with work-life balance the most include: high level executives, healthcare workers, tech industry workers, entrepreneurs, legal professionals, academics, emergency service personnel, and retail and hospitality workers. Factors such as shift work, inconsistent work schedules, working with crisis, and intense project deadlines are common challenges amongst these industries that contribute to work-life balance problems.

Having a good work-life balance means finding a healthy balance between your job and personal life. It involves managing your time, setting priorities, and ensuring that work commitments don’t overshadow your well-being, relationships and leisure. Striking a balance enhances your overall sense of satisfaction and prevents burnout.

My hope is that by the end of this blog post, you’ll have an idea of how to achieve better work-life balance. Here are my 6 tips.


1. Set clear boundaries between work and personal time

Define your working hours. Yes, it can be as simple as that. What are your hours and communicate that with your colleagues. Use email auto-responses to manage expectations during non-working hours. And most of all, make sure you stick to your set work hours!

Clear boundaries means it makes it easier for you to switch off from work. This separation is essential to prevent burnout and ensures that you have time to focus on your physical and mental well-being, and have time for personal relationships.


2. Prioritise tasks

Prioritise tasks that are essential. Sometimes it can seem like you have an endless list of tasks. Put them on a list and prioritise them. That way you can see what needs to be done and can politely but firmly decline extra tasks if your plate is full.

Prioritising tasks is important for work-life balance because it helps you effectively manage your time, reduce stress, and be productive by focusing on high-priority tasks. By prioritising tasks you can better balance your workload and make better decisions as you know what tasks are most critical. You can concentrate better on what truly matters.


3. Schedule breaks

Take the scheduled lunch break and get out of the working environment. It’s all too easy to feel like we should check that email or work on that task while eating. Working from home? Create a designated break area to physically move away from your workspace or go outside. Set specific break times in your calendar and use alarms and reminders to signal it’s time to step away. If you work in a team environment, communicate your break schedule to your colleagues. This will reduce the chance of something interfering with your break.

Scheduled breaks help as breaks allow you to recharge and return to work with increased focus and energy. You’ll be more productive and able to clock off from work on time. It prevents you from overworking and boosts mental resilience by giving you moments to get calm even during stressful work situations.


4. Let your colleagues know your availability

Be proactive. Communicate this early to get ahead. Let colleagues know when you are available and not available. Update them on any changes in your availability. You can use a shared calendar or collaboration tools to inform your colleagues. You might want to be more accessible, but remember to keep to the hours you specified.

By sharing your availability you enhance respect and understanding from your colleagues. You also promote a culture of setting boundaries and prevent overcommitment. It also reduces the likelihood of last-minute urgent work interrupting your personal time.


5. Learn to say no when needed

Sometimes it’s hard to say no but you can’t do everything. Remember it’s okay to say no when necessary for your well-being and productivity. Offer a brief explanation of your priorities and commitment when saying no. Suggest alternatives or propose a more workable timeline. Be clear about your current workload and politely express appreciation for the extra opportunity.

Saying no helps you establish clear boundaries between your work and personal life. You protect your personal time for things like relaxation, family, hobbies, and self-care. It helps you to assert your needs.


6. Reassess

Nothing is perfect the first time you try it. The same goes for your work-life balance practice. Regularly reassess your current work routine and adjust where needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ongoing reflections and adaptation are essential for maintaining a work-life balance.

Life is dynamic and your personal and professional circumstances can change over time. Reassessing your work-life balance practice is essential to adapt to life changes. It’s also essential to identify imbalances in your life. Perhaps your current work-life balance practice can do with some improvement. Reassessment also promotes personal growth. Learning from experience, making adjustments and continuously striving for a more fulfilling life.


How counselling can help

Counselling can be highly beneficial on top of these practical tips. It can help you identify imbalances in your work-life situation. You can clarify your values and priorities in what truly matters in your life. You can learn to build skills such as better stress management and communication to increase your chance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

As a psychologist, when I work with you on work-life balance, I use a collaborative approach. You are after all the expert in your life. You have lived it. I am just the psychological support. First, I get you to specify the issues you are facing. This might include work demands, personal priorities, and any stressors. Then we set clear, achievable goals together as a plan that allows you to manage your work and nurture your life. If there are other barriers to achieving work-life balance, we explore that further and I provide strategies to upskill you in areas that need your attention. This could be communication skills, stress management or your mindset. We will regularly review your progress and adjust as needed. It’s a collaborative journey until there comes a time where you can achieve better work-life balance on your own.


Need more help?

As you can see, these are some practical tips to strike that work-life balance. If you’re wondering whether counselling may benefit you to further explore the blocks you have to achieve work-life balance, feel free to contact us.

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