‘Adulting’ is often used to describe meeting the demands of being an independent grown-up. You know, things like paying bills, running errands, cooking, etc. Basically it’s meeting all the responsibilities in our lives. The center in all the chaos of living an adult life is employment. It not only pays the bills but, it can also give us a certain level of fulfillment in society. But our lives shouldn’t revolve around it.
As much as work is essential, we can’t forget about our personal lives.
Giving disproportionate focus on work over the other important areas of our lives results in stress. Prolonged stress leads to burnout. It’s no surprise that the result can be a host of mental and physical health issues. To avoid this, many employers are creating work environments that promote work-life balance. It’s a win win for everybody. It reduces stress and leads to increased productivity.
The Importance of Work-Life Balance for Productivity
Work-life balance means that we give the appropriate amounts of attention to all aspects of our lives. If our work responsibilities, personal commitments, and time for rest and rejuvenation are all in harmony, then it will contribute to our all around wellbeing.
So why is maintaining this harmony vital anyway?
- Prolonged stress increases inflammation in the body. This weakens the immune system and makes it easier for us to get sick.
- Working overtime can kill you. And that’s not an exaggeration. The Whitehall II study (published in the European Heart Journal) found that of its 10,000 participants, those that worked overtime were 60% more likely to have heart problems.
- Work-related stress was attributed to 10% of strokes in a study published in 2011.
- A quick Google search shows that prolonged stress changes the brain structure, decreases muscle mass, kills brain cells, imbalances blood sugar, shrinks the brain, increases the likelihood of mental illness, negatively impacts memory, just to name a few. You get the point.
It’s no wonder that excessive and prolonged stress leads to emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. The term “burnout” is quite appropriate.
It only makes sense for employers to encourage their employees to care for their mental health and wellbeing. At the end of the day, it’s a foundational aspect of being a productive employee.
Some Ways to Foster Work-Life Balance Productivity
1. Take A Break!
Remember the stress to sickness connection mentioned above? Getting some well deserved R&R is key for our overall wellbeing.
It means: actually taking a break, getting enough sleep, and going on vacation. These times allow our bodies to rest and repair itself.
We don’t have to wait until we’re on vacation to take a break though. We can make time for our passions and hobbies on the weekends (or whatever day/time we’re not working). Whether it’s hiking, snuggling up with a good book and some wine, or just listening to music, doing things we enjoy energizes us and nurtures creative thought.
This can be particularly tricky with working from home. It’s all too easy to get in the habit of working all day. Or worse, all week. This is where the previous tip comes in--schedule breaks into our calendars and task management systems. This way we can set aside specific times to work and specific times to reset.
2. Let’s Get Physical!
Studies show that exercise releases hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain that positively impacts our mind and body. Some of these include:
- Improved focus and attention
- Growth of new brain cells
- Sharper memory and thinking
- Better sleep
- Increased energy
So while stress negatively impacts the immune system, regular exercise does the opposite. So get that workout in!
3. Set Long & Short Term Priorities
Many people have a daily agenda for keeping track of meetings, deadlines, etc. Since we have a life outside of work, we should also keep track of personal commitments. Things like family gatherings, holidays, birthday parties, etc should make it on our calendars, so that we don’t miss them. Plus, they are fun anyway!
On a day to day basis, a way to organize our tasks is by following Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle. All tasks will fall under one of the following:
- Urgent and Important
- Important but Not Urgent
- Urgent but Not Important
- Neither Urgent nor Important
This is just one of the many ways to organize tasks in a way to efficiently and effectively manage our time.
4. Let’s Stick to Our Strengths
It’s easy to try to do everything. But, a better strategy is to focus on our strengths and delegate what we’re not good at. In our business it might mean outsourcing some responsibilities. At work this might mean getting assistance from a coworker. Focusing on our strengths will leave us less drained at the end of the day.
Generally, people equate a good career with having a good life. But remember, if we don’t take a break, we’re gonna break, literally. So don’t forget to:
- Avoid working under prolonged stress (if at all possible).
- Prioritize tasks and activities.
- Keep physical, mental and emotional health in check.
- Spend time with loved ones.