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Many of us experienced significant changes to our work and home life during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. School-aged children needed constant supervision during the virtual school day. Newly remote workers often struggled to find work-life balance when living and working in the same space.

The height of the pandemic is over, but the burnout and porous boundaries ushered in during that time remain. Read on for six effective strategies to improve your work-life balance.

Strategies to improve work-life balance
1. Learn your limits
2. Set firm boundaries
3. Prioritize your personal relationships
4. Communicate with your team
5. Make time for what you love
6. Care for your physical and mental health

Work-life balance strategies

Learn your limits and set firm boundaries to protect your work-life balance.1. Learn your limits

Take time to review how you spend your time at work. Do emails drain you emotionally? Do meetings early in the morning torpedo your productivity for the rest of the day? With self-awareness comes better, more informed decisions about your workload. Consider creating schedule blocks on your calendar to dedicate time for various responsibilities or tasks – or integrate thoughtful breaks into your workday.

2. Set firm boundaries

Once you’ve taken the time to understand your own preferences and habits at work, it’s time to set effective boundaries.

Where exactly you set your boundaries – which work habits are healthy and which are unhealthy – can vary by individual, industry, work style and more. The important thing is that you know them and respect them.

Many people find it helpful to set work-life boundaries regarding their work communications; for example, you may (should) choose not to respond to emails outside of normal working hours, or phone calls while you’re on vacation. Consider this your reminder to actually use your PTO!

3. Prioritize your personal relationships

Prioritize your personal relationships when dividing your time and energy.Much of the culture-wide breakdown in work-life balance comes down to a misalignment between priorities and behavior. When asked what makes life meaningful, a plurality of survey respondents say that family is what’s important to them. And yet, many of us sacrifice time with our partners, parents, siblings and children to focus on work instead. To build better work-life balance, prioritize spending time with the people you love. Close relationships are a key ingredient for living a long, happy and healthy life.

4. Communicate with your team

Clear and kind communication fosters strong professional relationships, and it’s especially important if re-focusing on work-life balance means that you’ll be changing how you behave at work. Talk with your team, both managers and subordinates, and be honest about the changes you want to make and why. Chances are, your colleagues will understand why you’ve decided to make a change – and they may even feel inspired to reprioritize wellbeing in their own lives.

Being honest about your boundaries (and your reasoning behind creating them, when possible) goes a long way to preventing misunderstandings and building trust.

5. Make time for what you love

It's important for your mental wellbeing to dedicate time to your hobbies and interests to ensure that you enrich your life outside of work.Taking time to do what you love – whether that means learning pottery, reading books, cooking, volunteering, playing music or just relaxing with your friends – is so important to maintaining a good work-life balance. It’s easy to get caught up in our obligations and set our own needs aside. But don’t let that stop you from making time for the things you’re passionate about. Even a little bit of time each week spent on a hobby that is playful and fun can go a long way!

6. Care for your physical and mental health

When we work too much and lack work-life boundaries, one of the things we may sacrifice is time spent on nourishing physical and mental health. But it’s our mental and physical health that support our ability to work and live well. Here are some ways you can focus on your physical and mental health for better work-life balance:

  • Take time for a type of exercise you enjoy, such as dance, cycling, swimming or yoga. Exercise has tons of physical and mental health benefits!
  • Stay up-to-date with routine health maintenance, such as doctor’s appointments or teeth cleanings – even if you have to take PTO to do so.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Spring hosts Stress Awareness Month (April) and Mental Health Awareness Month (May), making it an ideal time to re-evaluate your approach to your wellbeing. Take a moment (or several!) this month to notice how your work and personal habits affect your overall wellbeing. Ultimately, your job shouldn’t come at the cost of your physical or mental health.

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Ryann Redmond

Ryann Redmond is an Employee Engagement Consultant at Reward Gateway and has been working with business leaders to make their environments a better place to work for more than five years. She is a self-proclaimed coffee snob and mom of two boys… hence the coffee.

Employee Engagement Consultant

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