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Last Updated on December 1, 2022

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Achieving work-life balance can be really tough. More and more people are reporting that managing their personal and professional lives has become more difficult.

Longer working hours, more pressure to get things done quickly, more pressure to succeed and less personal time. Added together, this combination of things creates more stress and plenty of daily struggles.

But working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most.

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles” — Zig Ziglar

The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

What is Work Life Balance?

When we talk about work life balance tips, we are not merely talking about the time aspect of your schedule. Work life balance is an inclusive approach towards all the facets of life that gives the utmost satisfaction and gives the feeling of fulfillment.

Work life balance may have a different meaning in everyone’s life. To understand it better, consider all the things that are important to you. For example, work, friends, family, time you spend on hobbies, interests, etc. Then rank all these priorities within the 24 hours you have in a day.

How much time would you want to devote to each valuable aspect of your life? Some may want more family time, while others may give more time for self-care.

If you feel that you are compromising on any important facet of life, you do not have work life balance. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. 77% of employees have experienced burnout at least once in their career.[1]

It can be challenging to balance the fine line between your personal and professional life, but it’s doable. A perfect work life balance is a simple attitude toward your life where no one side supersedes the other.

Why Work Life Balance is Important?

For organizations, achieving work life balance is key to a productive and engaged workforce. Studies show the adverse effect of working long hours on job performance, while work life balance has been linked with positively and significantly affected employee performance.[2][3]

Work life balance does not only make for more productive workplaces, but it also makes for healthier individuals. Without work life balance, people tend to fixate on limited aspects of their lives, leaving them feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. Your mind tends to focus on what you lose rather than what you gain, leading to stress and anxiety.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that working overtime is associated with a significantly higher risk for stroke and heart disease.[4]

You might find yourself in the thought trap where you feel the need to sacrifice a particular facet of life in order to achieve something. You may think unless you compromise on something you love, you will not be rewarded.

Societies that celebrate competitive busyness make it even harder for individuals to pursue work life balance. The United States ranks low in work-life balance, with the average employee clocking in more than 40 hours per week and around one-third of Americans working weekends and holidays. [5]

Yet, Nordic countries such as Finland, Denmark and Iceland top the most recent Happiness Index Surveys, driven by the freedom to make their own life choices, reducing anxiety and burnout.[6]

It goes to show that working more is not always better. There is no need to compromise on life to achieve career success and vice versa. It is all in having the right mindset. Believe it or not, you are left with enough time and energy for work, family, friends, me-time, or anything else that’s important to you. Having work life balance allows you to take a step back and enjoy every moment of your life.

Causes of Work Life Imbalance

Work Life balance becomes challenging to maintain because of some of these reasons:

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Overbearing and Micromanaging Bosses

Bosses are meant to guide their people to the best of their abilities in line with business goals. Unfortunately, not everyone can make for a good boss. Some bosses can have extremely high expectations or are just plain demanding of their people’s time.

The pandemic has also challenged team dynamics with most teams operating virtually. In order to sustain engagement despite the distance, bosses have increased their visibility to provide support. A reasonable move, as research has shown that requests for support left unanswered by supervisors can reduce employees’ perceptions of psychological satisfaction, negatively impacting their job performance and work relationships.[7]

But while bosses mean well, some of them have adapted by becoming overly micromanaging, assuming that the quality of work may suffer without a supervisor. This results in increased overtime, alignments, and potential rework over the littlest details.

Technology Ruining Family Time

Technology has been beneficial for faster team communication and collaboration. But it also has the downside of blurred boundaries between work and home life.

Sending an urgent message to your boss or scheduling a meeting outside office hours is made easier, even if both parties are unwilling. As a result, there is never really a time when you’re “off” from work – and the pressure of constantly being on call can be exhausting.

Inflexible Work Hours or Rigid Time-off Scheduling

Working the usual 9-5 may have been a good routine in the past, but especially during the pandemic, inflexible work hours may be seen as a hindrance to maximizing both work and life.

Working on the same task for hours on end is the best way to lose interest, and sometimes having a breather is good to refresh the mind. Research also supports this, as reports of higher job satisfaction are more apparent among individuals whose work environments matched their creative work requirements.[8]

Even for non-creative jobs, there are many flexible ways to earn a living nowadays. Entrepreneurs, part-timers, and freelancers are growing in number as they work on a fluid schedule, allowing them to work around their life priorities.

17 Work Life Balance Tips

Here are 17 work-life balance tips you can implement right now to start living a more stress-free life:

1. Take More Rejuvenation Days

When was the last time you took some time out from work to completely rejuvenate?

One of the best ways to create an environment for future high productivity and creativity is to take yourself outside of the day to day and remove yourself completely from work-related activities.

Regularly taking a vacation of at least three weeks can reduce your chances of dying from stress-related illnesses by almost 40%.[9] On the other hand, an internal study by Ernst and Young shares that 10 hours of vacation time can boost year-end performance ratings by an average of 8%.[10]

By taking time out for yourself, you will gain clarity on what’s most important, both now and in the future, and you will come back refreshed, energized and motivated. By taking more rejuvenation days, you are investing in yourself which naturally means you are creating more balance.

If you can take this day to yourself every month or two you will start seeing immediate results on all levels of your business and life.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Action Item

1 Action
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Get your calendar out and mark down your rejuvenation days. 

2. Let Go of Fear

Many people – be they are entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders or managers – worry that if they aren’t seen to be working every day, they may miss out on something important. The business may fail or they may not get that promotion. There’s always something. There is a sense that something bad could happen if not enough time was invested or “I could always be working on something else.”

But, what if you believed you were good enough, you were achieving and doing something meaningful, and that you mattered?

Once you have that belief and confidence, you can let go of the fear that there is ‘always more.’ You will feel more joyful, productive, abundant and know that what you accomplished was good enough.

This guide will help you get over your most irrational fears: How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Remember Why You’re Awesome: Creating a two-page handwritten document of why you are awesome. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, and overcoming adversity. All of those will be full of positive emotions, actions, and feelings. 

3. Prioritize Your Day

If you took a step back and looked at what’s on your to-do list, how many things are critical? How many things MUST be done that day?

It all starts with a clear understanding of what your bigger and better future looks like. Are you planning a year ahead? Three years? Ten years? What are you working to achieve?

Once you understand that, you can work back and create plans and goals that help you achieve your bigger objectives. From this plan you will understand your priorities and where your focused time should be.

Achieve your important tasks and your motivation will go through the roof. If you have too many and are unable to complete them in time, your energy levels will drop.

It definitely helps to write your goals down to give yourself a constant reminder of the picture of success. A study also shows that writing things down eases your mind of the burden of fulfilling it now, freeing your mind to focus on other thoughts.[11]

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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1 Action
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Pick a time duration (a week / a month / a year, etc.), and note your goal for this time period. List down your top 3 or 5 important things to accomplish to reach your goal.

4. Express Gratitude for What You Have

Sometimes we are so busy working through and dealing with the day to day and having our mind in the future that we forget about the here and now, this present moment. I believe it’s essential to include proactive gratitude as part of everyday life, to actually look at everything in our lives and appreciate what we have.

Many of us think of gratitude as reacting. Something happens or someone does something and you feel grateful. You say thank you, maybe send an email.

But a far more proactive strategy for creating and living an abundant life is to actively find things you appreciate. You could send a handwritten card to the people you love or someone that means a lot to you. This affects not only your own personal state of mind but also positively impacts others.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Action Item

1 Action
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Practice Gratitude: Give thanks for three things at the end of every day and see how this shifts your mood and mindset.

5. Learn to Say No

It’s important to decide what you want to do, who you want to build relationships with and where you want to spend your time. We have so many requests made of us and so many opportunities to do different things that we end up saying yes to things that we really don’t want to do but feel we should do.

Have the self-respect, confidence, and courage to live life on your own terms and say yes only to the things that really matter. For everything else, start saying no.

This sense of unspoken obligation goes beyond personal relationships. A study looks into how unwanted work, also known as non-promotable tasks (NPT), contributes to overworked and under rewarded employees. Learning how to say no and promoting work boundaries go hand in hand as the issue of equal NPT distribution is a cultural issue which must be started from the top.[12]

Your time is scarce. When you are clear on who and what matters most, you will become more focused and be completely present in everything you’ve said yes to.

6. Have More Fun

If you looked back at the last week, how much time did you spend just having fun? If it wasn’t much, then it’s time to change things up.

Think about what gets you excited, think about the people you love spending time with. Jump into new things and new relationships. Take some risks, try something new, learn a new skill and start laying the groundwork for a big project you’ve always been putting off.

If you need to get out of your comfort zone to have more fun, just do it. However, if you want to change your life, having more fun keeps you energized and motivated.

7. Start to Journal

One of the biggest things that helped me in my own personal growth and goal achievement is using my journal every day.

My journal houses my dreams, creative thoughts, and my thinking tools. It is both a place to escape to and to immerse myself on  I am right now — my thinking, my mindset, and my belief system.

The habit of writing in my journal felt like a small step but has been transformative. It has become a routine that has affected other parts of my life. Research has shown that the act of handwriting – even digitally – can improve memory and bring out a positive mood.[13]

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Action Item

1 Action
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Start keeping a journal and write for five minutes each day. You can try answering a question prompt, pick out a consistent writing time to get in the zone, or do free writing and see where it takes you.  

8. Create One Hour a Day to Think and Relax

It’s amazing what we actually have time for, especially when we decide to really make time. However, slowing down and making time for rest and self-improvement is the best gift you can give to yourself.

Scientific research and spiritual philosophies alike give emphasis on the value of detachment and reflection for overall health and personal growth.  Giving yourself space to do nothing allows your brain rest and cultivate new insights as well.[14]

I hear the phrase “I don’t have time” constantly. How about you change that mind-set and start dedicating one hour a day to yourself?

The truth is we can all find time if it’s important to us. This one hour a day could help you become more creative and increase your energy and focus. Plus, you’ll increase your capabilities.

9. Do One Thing You Love to Do Every Day

As we get sucked into the whirlwind of the everyday, it’s all we can do just to get by. We often forget to do or enjoy the things that actually bring us the biggest amount of joy.

One of the best ways to bring more balance back into your life is to recommit to do the things that give you the most pleasure. Do it for 30 days and it will become a habit.

If you don’t have anything, I suggest you find something you’re passionate about. This could be reading, walking, meditating, learning an instrument or a language, or becoming a better cook or gardener.

Developing your personal interests allows you to balance out the stresses of work and everyday life. It also gives you something to look forward to after clocking out from work and helps you reconnect with what you really care about.

10. Create More Family Time

A study shows that the average American family spends only 37 minutes of quality time on weekdays, and less than 3 hours on weekends.[15] Given 40+ hour work weeks, family time is severly compromised in the modern-day schedule.

Research finds that the quality of familial relationships play a big role in an individual’s well-being. Cultivating strong relationships with your family members gives you higher self-esteem, helps you cope better with stress and engage in healthier behaviors.[16]

Maximizing family time means a lot to me and was one of the reasons I set up my coaching business in the first place.I have two young children whom I wanted to see more of and to spend more time with my family. With my current schedule, I get to take my kids to school sometimes and am often home for ‘family dinner’ and bedtime stories.

Having the freedom to do this is essential in how I run my business and how I help other entrepreneurs run their businesses. Create a bit of space to spend more time with the people that matter and you will see a massive difference.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Plan purposeful activities to cultivate quality bonds with your family. Some examples include cooking together, playing board games and going to the beach. 

11. Set Clear Goals

Successful people are always guided by a vision of their future. To keep them on course and motivated setting clear goals, both long-term and short-term, allows them to achieve their biggest dreams.

Setting specific and measurable goals gives you the best chance to transform how you work and live. They help you move forward and build momentum every single day. As Dan Sullivan says,

“Your future is your property. If you don’t take ownership of it, others will be happy to do it for you.”

Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

12. Focus on Results, Not Time Spent

Rather than thinking about working harder, focus your time and energy on achieving bigger results. By simplifying your areas of focus, you free up more time to live a more joyful and balanced life.

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of doing countless activities that drain your energy and take you away from building momentum in moving your business forward. You are being pulled in multiple directions and don’t have enough time and often take on too many projects. This can often leave you drained, worried and uncommunicative at the end of the day.

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To maximize your time at both work and life, try employing the 80/20 rule. The rule estimates that 20% of inputs is responsible for 80% of outputs, so it makes sense to focus your energies on the precious and few. If time permits, then channel your efforts toward the remaining 80%.

It’s not to say that perfection is thrown out the window, but that hitting the 80% mark will drive enough impact for you to call it a day at work and spend time with the people that matter. Also, accomplishing few but substantial projects on your plate gives you a bigger sense of achievement, confidence and motivation.

13. Commit to a Bigger Future

You have the power and control to decide what bigger and better future you want for yourself right now, in this present moment. How far into the future you want to envision is up to you. It could be 3 years, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years. This future is yours to create, but it only comes from investing time now to think about where you are and where you want to go.

Try this visualization exercise: Look into your future self and be clear about where you want to go, who you want to be, and how you want to live your life. Then, bring yourself back to the present day and create an action plan on how you’re going to create and ‘walk to’ this bigger future.

Taking the time to visualize gives you more focus and confidence in reaching your goals. You will feel a higher sense of energy, engagement, motivation, creativity and productivity because you have a clear vision and clarity on exactly where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get there.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Action Item

1 Action
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Create a Vision Board: There are many different types of vision boards; choose one that matches you. This could be a collage of photos, word of affirmations, or a mix of both.

14. Schedule Your Time Smartly

Time is one of the prime factors to consider when you plan to improve your work life balance. If you control your time, you can control everything!  Studies show that scheduling improves your attitude towards your work, while also providing health benefits such as lessen psychological distress and improved sleep.[17]

You might have to deal with millions of tasks in a day, and sometimes it leads to forgetting other important things in life. But if you intentionally schedule your working day and stick to your calendar, these minor hiccups will not be able to over-power your resolve to maintain work life balance.

Work is important, but so is your personal life that includes vacation time and spending quality time with your friends and family.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

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17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Plan out your personal and professional life. You can use a simple pen-paper or your tech gadget to schedule your time. Keep your schedule handy to help you stay focused.

15. Find Portals for Flexibility

There are times of the day when you actually can afford to be a little relaxed. But as our human nature dictates, not all of us let it be and simply enjoy the break!

Maybe you would rather schedule something else for that amount of time just to finish the errand. Don’t do that! Find your portal for flexibility and give yourself the luxury of extended breaks and breathe every once in a while!

16. Find a Buffer

For everyone’s well-being, create space between your professional life and your home life where you learn to let go. Don’t take your office to home and home to the office. Both are important; however, none should be powerful enough to spoil your mood and impact the other!

If you think a bad day at work will quickly blow over, think again. Studies show that work-family conflict the previous day could be brought over to the next working day, indicated by employees’ lowered engagement and energy levels. [18]

So while going home from the office, try to unwind by listening to music or podcast that loosens you up. It would recharge you and bring back a smile on your face. Make a dedicated effort to do this every day, even when going to work.

17. Unplug from Technology

Technology is one of the major culprits behind people not learning to relax. Our lives are so much tangled and surrounded by technology that we hardly leave the sight of our mobile phones or laptops throughout the day, even when it’s not required! The average user spends nearly 2.5 hours per day mindlessly scrolling through online content.[19]

Unfortunately, we give technology the power to subjugate us to the extent that it becomes a compulsion.

Unplugging yourself from technology every once in a while would give you enough opportunity to make time for everything else that matters. It is one of the gospels to achieving work life balance in the 21st century.

17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life

Action Item

3 Actions
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Put your notification settings on mute as not to distract you during work hours.
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
Limit your app usage or use a web blocker to restrict your access when you do get tempted to use social media.
17 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life
As not to deprive yourself entirely, schedule 1-2 social media viewing times during the day and stick to them.

Final Thoughts

Work life balance looks different for every person, but there’s no denying its importance to excel in all aspects of your life. Most of the strategies involve a change in mindset, prioritization, and scheduling. This proves that work life balance cannot be achieved by accident – it is a conscious effort to work towards a more well-rounded life.

Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately, whilst others will take a little longer to implement.. Nevertheless, by creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time, your long-term well being will be set for success.

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Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Zippia: 20+ Vital Work-Life Balance Statistics [2022]: The Difficult Importance Of Maintaining It
[2] Research Gate: Impact of Work-Life Balance, Happiness at Work, on Employee Performance
[3] National Library of Medicine: Long Hours’ Effects on Work-Life Balance and Satisfaction
[4] WHO: Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke
[5] Maryville University: Achieving Work Life Balance: The Ultimate Guide
[6] World Happiness Report: The Nordic Exceptionalism: What Explains Why the Nordic Countries Are Constantly Among the Happiest in the World
[7] Research Gate: The effects of unanswered supervisor support on employees’ well-being, performance, and relational outcomes
[8] Jstor: Matching Creativity Requirements and the Work Environment: Effects on Satisfaction and Intentions to Leave
[9] European Society of Cardiology: Take a vacation – it could prolong your life
[10] Harvard.edu: More Vacation is the Secret Sauce
[11] National Library of Medicine: Consider it done! Plan making can eliminate the cognitive effects of unfulfilled goals
[12] Nature: Saying ‘no’ in science isn’t enough
[13] National Library of Medicine: Advantage of Handwriting Over Typing on Learning Words: Evidence From an N400 Event-Related Potential Index
[14] Live Science: Why You Should Spend Time Doing Nothing, According to Science
[15] Study Finds: American families spend just 37 minutes of quality time together per day, survey finds
[16] National Library of Medicine: Family Relationships and Well-Being
[17] National Library of Medicine: The Effect of Using Participatory Working Time Scheduling Software on Employee Well-Being and Workability
[18] Wiley: Work from home today for a better tomorrow! How working from home influences work-family conflict and employees’ start of the next workday
[19] TechJury: How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media in 2022?

More by this author

Mark Pettit

Mark Pettit is a Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners who want to achieve more by working less.

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