There’s a sort of mythic state one can achieve in life. It is talked about often, but few have really obtained it.
It can be compared to enlightenment, becoming one with God, or finding the matching sock to the pair after a load of laundry. This harmony is known as one of the benefits of work-life balance.
How is this achieved? There are hundreds of books written on the subject, each espousing their own formulaic approach to the matter, but the truth is that everyone’s life is a little bit different, and so a one-size fits all approach is not going to work.
By pausing a moment and being aware of what the mind and body are trying to communicate, there are a few key points to be taken away that can aid anyone in the effort to balance the needs their life’s circumstances have placed on them.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Most people will spend one-third their life working, another third not, and the final third sleeping. Finding that sweet-spot of effort spent between the three is akin to living in the most efficient manner possible.
The benefits of work-life balance are closely tied to sleep patterns. A lot of people might equate sleep with energy levels, and there are a lot of things that can affect those.
Coffee, energy drinks, B-Vitamins, even purported mind-enhancing supplements called nootropics can be consumed for energy. With all these extra options, you can afford to skip out on a little sleep to squeeze in some more work, OR grab another hour or two of “me-time” for balance right?
Wrong. According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting the optimal amount of sleep (8 hours for most people) boosts creativity, improves memory, and helps prevent burnout.
Burnout is something that can kill you capacity for productivity or innovative thinking, no matter how many Red Bulls you down. The fact of the matter is, you can’t purchase “extra sleep” and you can’t make it all up on the weekend, so try and set a bedtime and stick to it.
Watch That Time Clock
Overtime is inevitable, but it should never be the norm. The 50-100 hour work week dedication romanticized by entrepreneurs is not only unsustainable, but it also encourages less productivity.
Author Kevin Kurse found in his interviews with several entrepreneurs, as well as star athletes and students, that they were purposefully scheduling time away from work.
To some, it sounds like a luxury, but again the principle of burnout appears. At some point, you aren’t going to get anymore R.O.I. on time put toward your work.
Besides, time is the ultimate commodity. It’s the thing people trade to get a paycheck, it theoretically is the thing that holds the most value in the world. Isn’t it a crime if you aren’t spending as much of your time as possible with your family, or enjoying the company of yourself or friends?
Become a Master Scheduler
You wake up every morning to a list of things that need to be done.
Rather than barrel through the day trying to cross off as many as possible, scrap the list and put those items on the calendar. Actually, schedule these tasks to not only hold yourself accountable but also ensure more efficient use of your precious time.
Being a scheduling guru doesn’t stop when the workday ends, it’s imperative that you take intent to specifically schedule time out of your day for yourself and your family.
Filling time with what brings you joy is going to guarantee you go to bed happy. This, of course, leads to better sleep and waking up happier as well. It’s not rocket science to understand that the most productive people are content in their lives.
Notice this means you don’t always have to be content with your performance, it can help to keep the fire stoked, but clocking out each day should mean that you shut off thoughts about your work.
Results: The Benefits of Work-Life Balance
So what does it look like when this happens? What are the tangible benefits of work-life balance?
Decreasing stress (the main effect of work-life imbalance) can help increase productivity, no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.
Of course, productivity leads to increased revenue. Sustained productivity can lead to raises, and also less time in the office, since there will be fewer opportunities for work to pile up.
Decreased stress leads to a healthier workplace as well. It’s been shown that the cost of health programs decreases with less workplace-stress.
Freeing up time away from the office means there is more time for self-care. This can range from exercise, to meditation, or some quiet time with a loved one. What these all have in common is they lend to a greater sense of well-being.
Getting more exercise means fewer aches and pains, and a healthier immune system, which means fewer visits to the doctor every year. Spending more time being mindful mitigates the mental toll of stress, and can lend to a greater sense of purpose.
Managing your time outside of work will see improvements in your relationships. Whether your stress response is to lash out or to retreat inward, doing less of either will make for more harmonious relationships with friends and family.
This is a big part of the “life”‘ in work-life benefits. You may work to support yourself and your household, but what’s the point if you have little to no time to spend with them?
Enjoying Your Work
Lastly, it may not be your job you hate, but how off-kilter your life is. Probably one of the most useful benefits of work-life balance is actually enjoying your work!
A job shouldn’t be a 40-hour weekly sentence, it shouldn’t be something tolerated at best, it should be a source of self-worth, and a means to make the other things you enjoy in life possible.
This is why the balance is so important. You aren’t just trying to make time away from work more enjoyable, you want all of your time to be more enjoyable.
Perfect life balance isn’t a click away, but great advice is. Check out the blog page for ways to improve other areas of your life as well.