When deadlines are approaching or you’re short-staffed, sleep and work-life balance are often the first things to be sacrificed.
Working for excessive hours and losing necessary rest time becomes normal. Life becomes structured around work, which can be detrimental to your health, productivity, and relationships.
One of the most common reasons behind this is the fear of being marked as underperforming and losing your job.
Both work and life are necessary.
Being challenged and growing personally and professionally are valuable to your well-being. Both are needed to have a sustainable and happy life.
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What benefits are gained from achieving a work-life balance?
If you ask someone for a goal to achieve in the next five years, the answer would usually be something along the lines of “to earn X a year” or “to get promoted to X role.”
But there’s more to it than that.
Aside from financial and career milestones, one of the most important goals for most working individuals is balancing work and family life effectively.
Everyone talks about work-life balance as an ultimate goal, but why? Here are some benefits of reaching this balance.
Lower stress levels
There is a unique relationship between stress and work-life balance.
Stress can help you perform better if you can contain it within your work, and it will be extremely fulfilling after the work is done.
But if it goes outside of that, it’s easy to become miserable. You cross over from a healthy level of stress into burnout.
Being able to balance work and life greatly reduces the chances of burning out. The idea is to train yourself to leave all the stress behind once you stop working.
Taking it home with you won’t do your mental health any good.
Better work performance
It makes sense to give 100% of your energy for work when at work. That’s how you come up with your best ideas, power through problems, and get promoted.
It doesn’t make sense to do so when outside of work. Spending even half of that outside of your work hours can deplete your energy for the next day; it’s a vicious cycle.
The moment you step out of the office — or shut down your computer — immediately kill all thoughts concerning work. If you can do this, you can focus your energy for other things for the rest of the day (or night).
You can start the following day fresh and perform at your best.
This way, you might even come back to your projects with a different perspective that allows you to solve problems or come up with new ideas.
A more engaged and loyal team
Of course, whether or not a team can achieve work-life balance relies heavily on its leader.
If you manage a team, how you operate will play a huge role in their approach to work. If you show them that their lives outside of work are important, that will translate to more motivation and loyalty.
Remember, if you show your team that this balance is important to you, it will come much easier to them, as well.
How to achieve work-life balance
How can you maintain a balance between work and life, which both take huge chunks of your time?
How do you separate your office and your home if they’re in the same location?
Don’t worry, it can be done.
Here are 9 work-life balance tips to help you perform in top shape while still having time for yourself.9 great tips to help you meet your deadlines and still have that home time that is equally important. Click To Tweet
1. Avoid overtime culture
Overtime can sometimes be difficult to avoid, especially when there are crucial deadlines to beat. Working extra hours occasionally isn’t bad.
But when it becomes the norm, things start to get toxic.
Working overtime on a regular basis takes a toll on your team’s mental and social capacities. Not only will they lose the ability to perform at their best, but their motivation to get things done will also take a hit due to being too focused on work almost all the time.
Not to mention the hassle of managing the unexpected costs of overtime pay.
The solution to this is to enforce a no-overtime policy, unless absolutely necessary.
This helps protect your team from getting burned out. And as a bonus, your team will be motivated to complete their tasks for the day as efficiently as possible.
It’s highly recommended to have a project management tool to help the team manage work easier. Hubstaff Tasks, for example, streamlines projects and ensures a continuous, on-schedule flow of work by using Agile tools such as sprints and Kanban boards.
2. Monitor how you make use of your time
Hours seem to pass by quickly when at work, and you’ll be packing up before you know it.
But how will you know that you’ve actually made good use of that time?
Completing eight hours of work is very different from having a productive day.
One of the best ways to keep track of how you’re using your time is with Hubstaff, a powerful time management solution with all the features you need to optimize productivity.
That way, everyone can see how their day is being spent on each task, and you can view their work progress, as well.
PRO TIP: Take the time to block off the hours in your day where you solely focus on work.
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3. Keep all work-related materials in your office
The main purpose of your office is to be a place where you can do all your work.
While you can opt to bring your laptop home with you and resume work there, it only consumes personal time and adds confusion to your work and life.
The reason why all your work materials should be left in your office is that when you bring them home, you also bring home the stress with you.
Make sure to focus solely on work when you’re at the office, and to leave it behind once it’s time to go home.
Taking your work home puts you at risk of mental fatigue, which is one of the biggest disruptors of work-life balance.
If you work remotely, set aside a space in your home dedicated to work. It can be a complete office or just one desk. Either way, make sure you try to keep work in that space, and not all over your house.
Leaving home to work at a coffee shop or a coworking space can help further separate home and life.
4. Make the most of your day, not just at work
Being productive for the day doesn’t mean just accomplishing your tasks at work before the day ends.
It’s also about scratching off items on your to-do list if you can so you can relax when the weekend comes.
For example, if you needed to run an errand somewhere extremely close to the office, you could do it on the way to work, or if you have spare time during your lunch break.
The idea is to accomplish as many tasks as you can before getting home, so you’ll have to do nothing but rest once you get there.
That way, you’ll be in top shape for the next day, ready to perform better at work.
Keeping your home to-do list streamlined will help meet work deadlines and still allow time for hobbies, family, and exercise.
5. Stick to a consistent work schedule
One of the benefits of flexible schedules is that employees can come in when they want, or when they feel most productive.
However, this can also present a problem.
Because there isn’t a schedule enforced, it’s possible that you follow a totally random schedule.
This, in turn, can prevent you from being in sync with your team’s progress at work and cause delays.
It’s best to stick to a daily schedule, so your mind knows that these particular hours are reserved for work. In addition, your team can assign tasks to you with reasonable deadlines, versus if they had no idea when — and if — you would be coming in the next day.
If your line of work mostly takes place during weekdays, shut off your email and computer on weekends.
You may occasionally have busy times where this is not possible, but try to stick to this schedule the majority of your time.
That way, you can spend weekends with your family or have time for yourself.
6. Don’t be afraid to take breaks from work
Working for eight hours a day, five days a week, for most of the year is a heavy load, even for the most experienced professionals.
Sometimes, weekends aren’t enough for you to recover from all the stress at work.
When you feel like you’re struggling to handle your work, one of the best things you can do is take a couple of days off to unwind.
Choosing to continue working when not at your full capacity can affect the quality of your work, which may only lead to worse fatigue.
This is why it’s so important for managers to recognize this in time-off policies. Allow your team to recover and perform at their best.
Your team will always be your greatest asset, and their well-being should be your number one priority.
7. Lead by example
If you want to attract new employees and keep turnover to a minimum, let your employees know early on that a healthy work-life balance is important to you.
You can take an extended vacation yourself. Or you can take a class during your lunch hour and let your employees know you won’t be communicating during this time.
Whatever it is, let employees know your company respects their personal time, too.
This is also important to consider when scheduling meetings or creating deadlines. If you plan projects out in the beginning and have a set conference call schedule throughout, this allows employees to factor in personal time better.
Also, be considerate if you have remote employees in different time zones. You don’t want to infringe on their weekends or after work hours that can be better spent as family time.
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8. Provide team-building activities
Employee performance largely depends on individual capabilities, but your business’ overall success is determined by how well your team works together.
And working together can be difficult if your team has nothing more than just a professional connection.
To help your team connect on a more personal level, consider providing team-building activities in which they can get to know each other better.
This can be in the form of vacations, retreats or game nights where everyone gets together and connects outside of structured projects and tasks.
If you are handling a remote team, there are several team communication solutions that can help create this atmosphere even if your team is spread out.
Slack, for example, allows you to create multiple channels for different purposes. You can talk to your colleagues about how their work is going, or different topics outside of work.
9. Performance is more valuable than hours
When reviewing your team on a monthly or annual basis, your assessment should be based on the work completed, not just the number of hours worked.
Just because one employee works longer than another doesn’t mean that one is necessarily better.
It could be an indicator that one employee is unable to handle tasks efficiently, thus needing to work longer than what’s needed.
In the same way, the people in your team who pack up and leave early aren’t necessarily bad performers.
Come review time, make sure to look at deadlines being met, milestones achieved, business metrics they contributed to, and responses in a timely manner versus the time your employees sat at their desks.
This gives employees the opportunity to prioritize their day as they see fit.
Hours for any particular day could be skewed based on appointments or outside commitments. But maybe the next day they put in extra hours because they have a project due.
If you assess performance by the quality of work and ability to perform duties instead of how many hours they work each day, it will make for happier and more productive employees.
How do you work toward a better work-life balance?
It’s easy to forget to have time for yourself when work becomes overwhelming. But even if you were in the middle of countless deadlines and piles of work, you still shouldn’t set aside your personal life and your happiness.
That’s why we listed 9 ways to help you and your employees achieve a good balance between work and life.
Happy and refreshed workers have excellent potential and productivity, and the key to reaching that is good time management and work-life balance.
If you own your company, what are some ways you promote home and work time? Do your employees feel they have time for both? What works in your experience, and are there any tools or best practices you use to achieve that balance? Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.
This post was originally published September 1, 2017, and updated June 2019.