With the rise of industrialism and technology emerged the hope that one day human beings would be able to work less and play more, creating the ever-elusive healthy “work life balance.”
In fact, according to Nicky Loh, in the 1930’s, “the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. ‘For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,’ Keynes wrote, ‘how to occupy the leisure.’”
The dream of less work and more play is, and has been, a very, very real thing in the minds of many people. So almost a century later, how is humanity doing? Are more people laying out at the beach than cramped in a cubicle?
Despite the many advancements of modern society, people are often working more than in previous years. Samual P. Huntington says that Americans, “work longer hours, have shorter vacations, get less in unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits, and retire later than people in comparably rich societies.”
What this proves is that you cannot rely on modern innovations to give you freedom from your many work responsibilities. Instead, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way, yourself.
Clients calling, bosses emailing, and your own personal drive for success will not be fixed by an app or new piece of technology. Creating time and space for yourself will require you to choose set boundaries and make critical judgement decisions about how and where you spend your time. To help you in this endeavor, here are some tips on how to achieve the ever-elusive healthy work-life balance.
Tips to Achieve a Healthy Work Life Balance
1. You can’t have it all
Steven Leder, a famous Jewish Rabbi, once gave a message essentially saying you can be great at one thing. It rubbed people the wrong way, especially in a world where people are told, “You can be anything” and “You can have it all.”
The reality is you can’t have it all. The only one who has it all is God, who is infinite.
Humanity, on the other hand, is finite with limited time, resources, and life. If you seek to live as if you can have it all, you will quickly find yourself overcommitted trying to achieve everything and please everyone.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’ve felt some of this before, which begs the question, “Is it worth it?”
It leaves you drained, depressed, and feeling defeated. As you begin to realign your work life balance, choose what you want to make important. Do you want to be a better mom or dad? Spend more time with your family. Do you want to be a better husband or wife? Take your spouse out and make them feel special. Do you want to run a marathon? Go running.
Whatever you want to do will require time and effort. This time and effort will come from somewhere. It will either come from time spent sleeping, socializing, spending time with family, pursuing your passions, or working.
When you spend time and effort on something new, you can be sure that other areas of your life will get less attention. This is why you need to decide what is important to you and make your decisions based on those values.
2. Figure out how you work
This could be as simple as asking yourself whether you are a morning person or an evening person. If you work well in the morning, a way to create more space for yourself is to get up early and get started. Or maybe you realize it’s better to let your family go to bed and then crank out some projects.
You can also learn more about yourself through personality and strengths tests to learn how you work best. Maybe you are a deep thinker and need time to reflect on a project, or maybe you need verbal stimulation and to process with a team.
The better you know yourself, the more effectively you will be able to spend your time. If you don’t know how you work, you could spend a lot of time trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
3. Manage your time
To take back control over your time, you will have to know where it is going. This will require diligently mapping what you are doing, when you are doing it, and why you are doing it. Once you know how you are spending your time, then you can begin to make judgment calls.
For example, maybe you find yourself struggling to make healthy meals at night and instead are hitting the drive-thru because you don’t feel like you have the time to cook.
One way to free up your evenings from cooking when you get home and get a healthy meal is by taking an hour or two on the weekend to prepare your meals in advance. Doing so will free you up to do what you want when you get home, whether that is working more, spending time with family, socializing, or relaxing.
Effective time management requires you to know where your time is going so you can either cut things out or make your life more efficient. If you don’t know where your time is going, you will never get it back.
4. Work when you are supposed to work
This may sound simple, but for many it’s more difficult than it seems. In the world today, there is always something you can be doing. Whether it’s checking social media, the news, or your favorite sports team, distraction is only a click away. In fact, websites actually design “clickbait,” which is content specifically designed to pique your interest and draw you in.
With all this being said, it’s very easy to be at work and not work. So, one way to free up time is to be diligent when you are supposed to be working. Maybe this means you should bring headphones to the office so you can listen to calming music to keep you focused, or you can download an app that locks your phone down for an hour at a time.
These are simple ways you can increase your focus and thereby increase your efficiency, freeing up more time in your schedule. This also can really help you find work life balance because when you finish your work, you can leave it at the office.
5. Pursue your passion
Pursuing your passion might seem like the opposite of what you are expecting to find in this article. You are trying to find ways to balance your schedule so you can make the time to pursue your passion. But sometimes you need to start first and then figure out the details.
Making time for your passion, even if it means cutting into your sleep or other appointments, can help invigorate and inspire you. It can push you forward to find the time or make you more energized and capable of completing more in your existing schedule.
6. Learn to say no
“No” is one of the shortest words in the English language, but for some reason we have a hard time saying it. We need to learn to be more like a toddler who runs around screaming “no” if we are going to protect our desired work life balance.
The world around you will constantly ask more of you. Extended family, bosses, schools, and friends will always need something. And while it’s great to help out other people in need, you can’t be everything to everyone. To protect your work life balance, you will have to learn to say “no” to a lot of things—even good things—and learn to only say “yes” to the best things.
Christian Counseling for Work Life Balance
For many, work life balance is the elusive white whale of life. It seems every time you get close to achieving it, it slips through your grasp. No app or new life hack will be able to grant your freedom. While this might feel discouraging, it is possible to establish a healthy work life balance. It just won’t come through some new trick or silver bullet.
Instead, it comes through the hard work of drawing up boundaries, working hard, releasing expectations about what you can achieve, and saying “no.” This is the really hard work that no new app can replace.
One way to help you process your disappointments, frustrations, and anxieties at work and home is to meet with a professional counselor. A trained professional can help you process your emotions, find out how you work, and put together a realistic plan of how to take back your life. If you want to achieve a better work life balance, contact one of the counselors in our counselor directory today.
“Working” Courtesy of Helloquence, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cooks in the Kitchen”, Courtesy of Becca Tapert, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Going to Work”, Courtesy of Marten Bjork, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Family Time”, Courtesy of Jeniffer Araujo, Unsplash.com, CC0 License