Maintaining the Work-Life Balance

Have you ever worked late or on the weekends? Have you incessantly checked your phone and emails while relaxing or involved in social events? Have work-related thoughts clouded your mind and disrupted your attention outside of work? Have you stopped a conversation with a friend or family member to take a call? I know I’m definitely guilty of all of these (sometimes even simultaneously). As technology becomes more widely and regularly used, this has become a common issue in the daily lives of the employed.

Overworking yourself can actually make you LESS productive at work than taking a break to breathe and rest your mind. Additionally, it can seep into your personal life, causing issues. So how can you keep your balance? Check it out:

Set Boundaries: technology and mobile devices make it easy for you to be available non-stop. You need to set boundaries. Turn your phone on silent outside of work. Only check your emails/voicemails for an hour a night after you finish your shift. Only respond to things that NEED to be responded to.

Schedule: I literally have a white board for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and to-dos. I work extremely hard to stick with that schedule. Having this schedule will make sure I don’t over-do it and actually reduce time worrying about whether or not I’m forgetting to do something. It saves a lot of brain power.

Prioritize: living in the instant gratification age could make it seem like if you don’t respond or aren’t present every second of the day that the world may end. It won’t- trust me. Deal with any fires that need to be put out. Then, prioritize whether or not something needs to be done ASAP or if it can be put on the backburner. Do this regularly to ensure you’re managing your time well.

Be realistic: we have become multitasking masters, which can sometimes make us believe we’re capable of doing the workload of 3 people all at once. It’s a nice thought but unrealistic. Sometimes you need to say no to people (do it nicely, though!) and if you do say yes to someone, make sure you set realistic timelines and expectations. Give yourself some extra time in case something more pressing comes up and cuts into your time. This can help you avoid the need to cram things in to meet a timeline you set.

Sometimes our lives make work and personal life blend too easily but you need to regularly take a step back and remind yourself that your brain needs a break. Do yourself a favor and follow the steps above and see if it makes a positive difference in your life.

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More Links:

The Quaint Notion of the Work Life Balance

Work, Life and Peace

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Does Your Employer Give You a Good Work-Life Balance?

With the economy’s downturn, companies have been forced to downsize and had to increase the workload of employees still on payroll. Technology and smart phones have also allowed employees to feel like they can’t “unplug” fully even during after-hours or on their days off. Factors like this are starting to blend people’s work and personal life into one. This issue has become highly noted among HR professionals because improper work-life balance has caused many people to become stressed, increased turn-over, and even caused employee’s work and home-life to suffer.

I have been guilty of working through lunch, taking work home with me over the weekend, late hours at the office, and working on holidays from home- all while being an hourly employee. Understandably, it sometimes is necessary when you have goals to meet, tight deadlines, or in my case, payroll that could not be put off. However, if workers continue this pattern it can start to take its toll on both the individual’s work performance and personal life. So why do we continue to do it?

Here are some of the top reasons employees provided when I asked them:

  • Fear that they will be terminated if they do not consistently display above-and-beyond hard work.
  • Feel that it is necessary to secure a spot for promotion when these roles are limited.
  • Do not want other workers to outshine them and make them seem like a bottom performer.
  • Technology and mobile devices make them feel like they need to give an instant response any time a phone call, text, or e-mail comes in.
  • They are given extra job duties to fill in for the individuals that were terminated/laid off and feel overwhelmed with work. They work long hours to try feel like they aren’t drowning.

I’ve had some of these similar feelings before in previous jobs. I also have witnessed other people going through this situation. Unfortunately, here are some of the effects that could occur if they keep working like this (I’ve witnessed it or co-workers have told me about it):

  • Strain on relationships: family, friends, children, and significant others.
  • Stress and depression due to not having time to unwind/relax.
  • Stress and depression due to not having time to do things the individual enjoys.
  • Anxiety about going to work and how much work will be waiting for them there.
  • In extreme cases: substance abuse has occurred to deal with stress.
  • In extreme cases: stress has caused individuals to do things that are uncharacteristic and self-destructive.
  • Feelings of resentment towards work, co-workers, and managers, which contributed to high absenteeism and turn-over.
  • Feelings of being overworked and unable to juggle life’s responsibilities.
  • Overwhelming feelings and stress affects work-performance and quality.

Unfortunately, some of these scenarios happen before an employee realizes that the lack of quality work-life balance is affecting them that much. If you are an employee feeling overworked, please review WebMD’s tips on finding a better work-life balance.  If you are an HR professional or manager, please be sure to pay attention to this to avoid any of the effects mentioned above. If you would like to find more information on companies that have the best work-life balance, please review the articles by CNN and Glassdoor. Your employees’ well-being is important!

Additional Links:

Work-Life Balance Worsened by Recession.

Recognizing Work-Life Balance Problems.

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