Ah, work-life balance.
The stuff dreams are made of.
A snuggly imaginary world where things are always right and never wrong, where nothing bad ever happens and where we have the time to do anything and everything under the sun.
Well, um, not exactly.
Work-life balance is not a mythical equilibrium unattainable by mere mortals. It is a very real and quite achievable concept. Admittedly, it does require some work and plenty of organizational skills, but it’s a realistic concept nevertheless.
Let’s explore why it is so important, and you might just also get a sense of how to get there.
1. It protects your physical health
Our bodies need rest in order to stay healthy. Rest involves not only sleep but also time off from the most demanding activities we engage in every day, which, for most people, is simply work.
When you work too much, your cortisol levels are raised, your body and mind don’t get enough time to repair the damage you do to them during the day, and your immune system begins to suffer. Ultimately, your tiredness can lead to a whole host of illnesses and diseases.
For you to stay healthy, your life needs to contain both work, personal life (a.k.a. relaxation, social life, entertainment, and so on), and rest. To achieve that, prioritizing the balance becomes paramount.
If you’re having trouble catching up on your sleep, try a power nap. If you’re struggling to find time for friends and family, try to schedule these events like you would your work, and give them the same level of priority. It will soon become a routine, and compromising it will be less of an option.
2. It protects your mental health
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Remember that saying?
To keep it together mentally and emotionally, you need to step away from work and engage in other kinds of activities as well. Overworking can lead to burnout due to the excessive stress, which will soon make its presence felt in all areas of your life.
Overwork can also lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other mental health challenges. In short, making sure your life is more than just the office is just as important for your mind as it is for your body.
3. It makes you more productive
If you’re genuinely invested in improving the productivity levels in your small business, apart from effective management, the best thing you can do is to advocate for work-life balance.
When we have had time to rest, and when our bodies and minds are well, our productivity will naturally be increased. Lack of sleep, heightened stress, and an excess of work-related thoughts slowly but surely deplete our energy, and our productivity begins to suffer in turn.
Instead of staying at the office and working overtime to get something done, take a break, find some time for life, and come back when you are rested and recuperated. You’ll notice how much more efficient you are.
4. It boosts your creative abilities
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/kmz39UAtKZ0
Creativity depends a lot on rest. Even if it doesn’t seem so, just think about some of your best creative ideas and decisions. Were they made after a long sleepless night, or were they born out of a well-rested and well-rounded version of yourself, the version that had time to engage in something other than work?
When we step away from a problem and take a break, especially when we go to sleep, our creative subconscious keeps working away at the problem while our conscious mind is busy somewhere else (or shut down in deep sleep). This way, we’re able to come up with a solution “out of the blue” after we’ve spent some time dealing with something other than the problem at hand.
5. It makes you more successful
To become truly successful, striking a balance between your career and personal life is essential. Most people think they need to work more and live less in order to succeed, but that’s nothing more than a common misconception.
Work-life balance is about setting the priorities that work for you as an individual, and if that means working full five days a week, then so be it. It can also mean seven days a week, but remember that you do need rest. And you do need to incorporate non-work-related activities into your week in order to stay productive, rounded, and creative.
True success is not measured by how well you’ve managed to avoid your third burnout and first mental breakdown in half a decade, but by how much you enjoy what you do every single day.
6. Life is simply too short
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-raising-both-hands-1556691/
I realize how harsh this sounds but bear with me.
Since we most probably only get the one life in this shape and form and in this space and time, we would simply be foolish to let it go to waste and spend our time doing things we don’t really like.
You can apply this axiom to the work-life balance principle any way you like – whatever works for you.
But remember that you should always prioritize your own priorities, as opposed to what someone in your life, society, or your own misguided view of who you think you should be is telling you to prioritize.
Work-life balance is all about feeling good in the skin you inhabit every day. Maybe not feeling good all the time, but every single day. If you notice this is not the case, try to pinpoint the areas that are causing the disbalance and the stress. Are you in need of more work to get where you want to be? Or do you perhaps need a little bit more life to get some fresh wind in your sails?