In today’s world, work-life balance is a buzzword that gets used so much it can simply sound like noise. Depending on who you ask, a work-life balance can mean spending more time with family, having a flexible schedule, or simply lightening your workload.
The Cambridge dictionary defines work-life balance as, “The amount of time you spend doing your job, compared with the amount of time you spend doing things you enjoy”, but there’s no clear definition of what a healthy work-life balance looks like. This subjectivity can lead to missed expectations and frustration among professionals looking for a job and those who are feeling burned out at work.
If you are personally feeling like your work-life balance is out of sync, these three steps can help you regain your footing.
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1. Set Clear Boundaries
Whether you are starting a new job, interviewing, or are actively employed, it is important to be transparent with your manager and HR department on your expectations. Similarly, it’s important to understand what they expect from you.
A major factor of employee burnout is poor communication, so being able to effectively communicate from Day 1 is important. Ask questions in the interview process about what the workload is like and what is expected. If you’re employed, speak up and create a dialogue with your supervisor when you feel overburdened.
2. Be Self-Aware
No one knows your limitations better than you do. Whether you’re feeling happiness or sadness, stress or relief, be honest with yourself about your attitude and learn how your emotions can impact your productivity.
If you cannot recognize when your workload is too much, or you don’t understand what is expected of you, you will become burned out. If you notice you’re feeling anxious throughout your workday or feel overwhelmed, this could be a sign that you are close to hitting your limit (if you haven’t hit it already).
Being self-aware is extremely important because you can then communicate to leaders on how they can best help you handle your workload and how to prioritize your tasks. No employeer wants to burn out their employees, so knowing how you work and how you handle stress allows them to work with you and build a plan that is beneficial for both parties.
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3. Learn how to Prioritize/Multitask
Setting up your workweek for success is one of the most important things you can do. If you go into work with no plan, it can feel overwhelming. This can lead to working extra hours and having less time to do things you love outside of work.
Outline your week by first writing down your goals for the next five days. From there, make an action plan on how to achieve those goals. If you need to go further, make a list detailing what needs to get done each day and check things off as you go. Setting up a strong foundation can be the determining factor to your success.
Standing on Solid Ground
Although everyone’s version of what healthy balance looks like varies, the importance of finding that balance is something everyone can agree on.
Having open and honest conversations between employee and employer can be a great place to start to find this balance. It’s equally important, however, to have a similarly open and honest conversation about burnout with yourself, so you are protecting your mental health, your overall attitude, and your long-term professional growth.