• 30 Apr, 2017
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Work is one of the main causes of stress nowadays. Americans with full-time jobs work an average of 47 hours per week, and 40% of us regularly work 50+ hours per week. That’s the equivalent of about six and a half, standard, 8-hour workdays. We also use only about 14 paid days off per year, with Europeans taking an average of 28 days off each calendar year. Some Americans, though classified as “part-time” employees since they work fewer than 30 hours per week, are actually full-time when you consider that they work more than one job.

In fact, 7.8 million individuals across the U.S. currently work two or more jobs, which reflects the ongoing need for a work-life balance. Let’s look at some of the best practices that can help you improve work-life balance. This doesn’t necessarily mean working less or vacationing more, but it does mean taking a more active role when it comes to managing your personal health and wellness.


Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

While there will always be times when you have to take one for the team and work extra hours on a project, you must also find the inner fortitude to say “no” when appropriate. Check if you really have the time to give to another person, then commit to a specific timeframe to be available. For example, “Sure… I can help you with that project” is more detrimental to work-life balance than “Sure… I can help you move with that project – I can commit two hours to it.”

Keep a Calendar

One of the biggest sources of stress for many of us is feeling like we either can’t fit it all in to 24 hours in a day. A calendar makes a huge difference, especially one that you can access via your phone or tablet. If you have a partner or kids to work around, make sure your calendar is something shared among all portable devices. That way, you can quickly and easily plan your schedules with one another and reduce the potential for stress.


Schedule “Blank” Time


The mind needs time to escape the stresses of real life to continually function at a high level. Add some time into your calendar for “me time.” This can be time to sit on the couch and watch TV, lounge on the patio and read a book, or even just take a nap. The point is to dedicate a specific block of time each week (each day, if you can) to allowing you to do whatever it is that makes you happy and content. And since you’ll have it on the calendar, you won’t have to feel like you’re being lazy or dodging responsibilities to take time for yourself.


Audit Your Downtime

You’d never waste hours of productive time at work doing seemingly ineffectual tasks, right? So why do the same outside of work? Re-evaluate how you operate during the hours outside of your normal work hours. Then, see if there is something you can alter or cut out entirely to balance out your life. For example, if you go to the gym three times per week, can you accomplish the same activities at home and cut out six one-way trips in the car? Or, does it make sense to pay $5-$10 for grocery home delivery from one of the major grocers near you and save an hour of shopping? Audit how you spend your time outside of work, then see if you can either delegate some of these time-draining activities or eliminate them entirely.

Find Your Network

Life is difficult at times, but going through life’s ups and downs alone can be downright unmanageable for many of us. The good news is that you, like most people out there, have a network of family members, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, that can be relied upon to help out from time to time. If you can name ten people who may be of service to you once per year, that’s a lot of help in the long run, and a lot of potential to improve work-life balance. Just make sure to be available as much as possible for them, too.

Relax Your Mind, Body and Spirit


You must find what truly relaxes you. Maybe it is lying on the couch for 10-15 minutes, staring at the ceiling. Or listening to soothing music and playing a game on your phone. Others may find that tidying up, doing dishes, or even organizing the garage cabinets is their form of relaxation. Whatever it is you do to relax, try to fit in at least 15 minutes a day to boost your emotional health and overall sense of wellbeing. One of the best ways to combine several work-life balance improvement techniques is using an infrared sauna several times per week. It delivers a healthy dose of detoxification, removes you from the distractions of the outside world, and essentially forces you to relax. Saunas have been used for centuries to help improve mental and physical well-being.


Keep Distractions to a Minimum

This may seem challenging in our interconnected world, but it can be done. Bringing your phone to the dinner table is a conscious choice. It allows work emails and other “push-notifications” to interrupt what should be a peaceful and relaxing time with others. Turn off the television, put your phone in another room during meals, and try to have at least an hour or two each day without the constant pressure to check your electronic devices. You’d be amazed at how life still goes on, even when you’re not plugged into your tablet, phone, computer, or other portable devices.

Starting today, find a way to positively shift your sense and improve work-life balance. While there will be times when it feels like it’s either all “work” or all “home-life,” the pendulum tends to correct itself in time. Remember that having the goal of “perfect” balance isn’t necessarily the aim. You should find a way to keep the dips between balance and imbalance as small an arc as possible.