For many professionals, “work-life balance” is just a buzz phrase tagged in beachside social media posts or dropped as self-justification for an afternoon at the dentist. That’s a problem! We’re living in a world where technology makes it possible to be available 24/7. If you add the dynamics of the current work-from-home culture, it’s becoming more common to “work” 47 hours a week or more.
This level of accessibility can take a toll on your health and happiness. And the impact on your success in the office and at home is just as serious. The bottom line is…if you want to be successful, work-life balance is as important as your values, education, experience, creativity, and talent. Let’s take a look at the importance of work-life balance and how you can establish work-life balance integration habits that set you up for success.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance means different things to different people, but the idea is that your career should not consume your whole life. Instead, it should complement who you are outside of your regular working hours. The term was first coined by Lillian Gilbreth, one of the first female engineers to earn a Ph.D. Gilbreth is known as ‘the first organizational psychologist’ and is recognized as an “efficiency expert” as well as “a genius in the art of living.”
When you think of work-life balance, time management might come to mind. But finding a healthy equilibrium is more than dividing your time between the pressures of your career and the needs of your family. It’s about building habits in every area of your life that lead to a sense of wholeness and a life well-lived.
What Does Work-Life Balance Look Like for a Successful Leader?
If you’re still uncertain about the importance of work-life balance, it might help to picture what effective work-life balance integration looks and feels like. If you can say “yes” to the following indicators of work-life balance, you’re one step closer to success:
- You’ve established clear boundaries between home and work. You unplug from your phone or computer at the end of the day, on weekends, and during vacations without worrying about falling behind or missing out. You’re confident saying “no” to tasks that might compromise your work-life balance.
- You feel strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, meditating or praying, and spending time with loved ones contribute to a sense of wholeness and security. Gratitude comes naturally to you.
- You have a hobby. If your immediate response is… I don’t have time… your work-life balance may need an adjustment. No matter the activity, you value your hobby for its stress-reducing, creativity-generating effects. Your local book or hiking club is an outlet.
- You take pride in your work and who you are. You feel proud of your accomplishments and the life you’ve created, even if your days are hectic. A sense of satisfaction when you lay your head on the pillow at the end of a busy day means you’re moving in the right direction.
- You have a circle of trust you can turn to for support. Whether it’s in a time of crisis or when you’re lonely, having family and friends around when you need them the most means you’ve prioritized your relationships outside of the office. Always remember, one true friend is more important than 5000 “friends” on social media.
No matter where you are right now, when it comes to creating a healthy work-life balance, you can set new goals for yourself to move closer to these results.
How to Achieve Healthy Work-Life Balance Habits
So you see the importance of work-life balance on your success and want to take action. Here are three tips to get you started:
- Do what you’re great at and delegate the rest. Stop doing tasks you don’t enjoy – don’t hesitate to ask for help. When you let go of unfulfilling tasks and stay in your zone of genius, you’ll get more accomplished in less time.
- Don’t bring your work home. Establish a ritual that clearly marks the end of your workday. Perhaps you review your to-do list and pat yourself on the back for what you did get done that day. Then you close your computer and take a walk. Your to-do list will be there tomorrow. Don’t be like 40% of American workers who are still on their computers (not their smartphones) after 10 pm.
- Set and track professional and personal goals. Creating goals, breaking them down into actionable tasks, and monitoring your progress is an ideal way to move toward a work-life balance. By reviewing your progress at least weekly, you can make adjustments so none of your goals are neglected.
What’s most important is the realization that work-life balance is a non-stop process of thoughtfully adjusting to your current circumstances. No single strategy will always work. There are seasons for leaning into your career, and there are cycles for stepping back and devoting more time and energy to your family and yourself.
Now we want to hear from you! How do you balance it all? Here at Topic Insights, we see the leader within you. Our mission is to inspire that leader to become the very best version of themself. For deeper insight and character-building content, subscribe to our newsletter.