Wellness Wednesday: Work Life Balance
2020 sure did teach us a lot about work/life balance, didn't it! Suddenly most of us were working from home, often in make-shift office spaces, at the dinning room table. For me, having a fully functional home office meant that I could work on notes at 3am when I couldn't sleep, or respond to emails, or hold sessions at really unconventional hours because I was already at my office. I realized very quickly that it's incredibly easy to lose the ability to separate work from home, when work is at home!
In addition to working from home, most of us missed out on our family vacations due to the pandemic. For some, even going to get groceries became an anxiety-provoking event. Scheduled vacations didn't happen and those regularly scheduled mental recharge breaks, away from it all, didn't happen. What's left when you take away working outside of the home, shopping, and vacationing? Work! Take a moment and reflect on last year. Did you save your vacation time because you couldn't take a trip? Did you throw yourself into the daily grind to avoid what was happening in the world?
What exactly is "work/life balance” and why is it important? Simply stated, work/life balance is how career or job duties align with personal goals and where they both sit on the scale of priorities. Often when individuals place career goals over personal goals, employee burnout rates increase and productivity drops substantially. Having a healthy work/life balance, where home and work have similar value, usually provides an improved sense of well-being.
So, what do we do about it?! Here are some tips that can help you regain some boundaries and prioritize your life in a way that benefits you.
Set Work Hours - Use this as a way to hold yourself accountable. Remember you can always renegotiate work hours as long as it's done intentionally. Ignoring the work hours boundary and working all night, "just this once", isn't negotiating a boundary. Be purposeful and clarify what work gets attention during work hours. Some people find it helpful to have separate technology for work and home. As business owners, it's also good practice and a good example to let your staff/employees know what your work boundaries are. For example, if you'd like to not deal with staffing requests on your Saturday, then let them know the proper procedure, and hold that boundary.
Take Time Off - Utilize your vacation days, sick days, personal days - ALL the off time days, as you need to. Time away from daily job duties is essential for your mental health, as well as the mental health of those around you. Just because you can't fly to Cancun as planned, or manage the 14 day quarantine in a commercial hotel to visit London, doesn't mean you shouldn't take the break! You need it! Even if it's a stay-cation on your back deck listening to your favorite podcast. It's okay to take time away from work when you start feeling disconnected - take that mental health day.
Pay Attention - Listen to your body and stay connected to it. Think about the body as an emergency broadcast system. When your eyes ache at the end of the day, perhaps there was too much screen time. Notice how your body feels when you take a vacation, or a day off work. The body is a vital indicator of your overall well-being.
Stop Expecting ‘You’ From Everyone Else - This one is super important and applies to everyone. You can't expect anyone else, not even your highest paid employee to be as invested as you are.
Everyone has their own story and when you expect others to perform as you would, it creates pressure and stress for everyone. A business or business representative sets the bar. However it shouldn't be "your bar." It should be the necessary bar that is achievable for all staff. It’s almost inevitable that if others are striving for your bar, you will over work your staff and they will likely fail or fall short and productivity will tank. No one else can ever be you!