The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in numerous - and unprecedented - ways. But it has also changed the way we work. You may have heard of The Great Resignation in recent news. Millions of people, primarily in the US, have been quitting their jobs over the past year.

With a huge number of people working from home and facing hardships due to the pandemic, many have taken this time to reassess their careers and goals. While some are quitting their jobs due to dissatisfaction with their working conditions, others are looking to improve their personal lifestyles and gain a better work-life balance.

Whether you are staying in a long-term career, just starting a new job, or thinking of making a career change, finding the right work-life balance is vital to feeling satisfied, happy, and healthy.

Tips to Improve Your Work-Life Balance

It’s one thing to talk about work-life balance. It can be quite another to achieve it. The key to finding this balance is taking practical steps toward it and discovering what works for you personally.

Find time for yourself

While your job is an important part of life, it shouldn’t be your whole life. Prioritize the activities and hobbies that make you happy outside of work. Many people would use their commute to work as this kind of “me time” to read, listen to music, or catch up on the news.

Now with so many working from home, it’s important to find other ways to carve out that time. Block time out of your schedule to do activities on your own. This could mean exercising, reading a book, meditating, or doing another craft or hobby.

You should also find time to spend with your friends, family, and loved ones. Plan fun outings, such as going for a walk in the park, or special gatherings, such as a game night. It may seem odd to schedule time on your calendar to see family or friends, but it will ensure that you spend quality time with them without work-life conflict.

No matter how hectic your work schedule may be, you shouldn’t neglect yourself or your personal relationships.

Have set work hours and boundaries and stick with them

Set specific work hours for yourself, whether you are working in an office or working from home. Do what you can to keep these hours firm. When working from home, the line between work time and personal time can become especially blurred.

Communicate these work hours with your colleagues and any clients you may have, so you have clear boundaries between work and life. Set up an autoresponder to notify anyone who contacts you that you are offline and when you can respond. This can remove the pressure to keep checking your work email throughout the day and feeling the need to respond.

There are also some software options that allow you to track your work hours remotely. This can encourage you to take breaks, make sure you’re sticking to your set schedule, and avoid overworking.

When you leave the office, avoid thinking about work or upcoming projects. If you have a separate computer or phone for work, shut it off when you clock out. If you use your personal devices for work, use separate browsers, emails or filters for your personal platforms.

Take breaks throughout the day

Remember to take time to step away from your desk. Try taking a ten to fifteen minute break at least every 90 minutes. Even a 30 second break can improve concentration, reduce stress, keep you feeling engaged, and make your work feel more enjoyable.

Working in an office usually means coffee breaks, water breaks, and conversations with colleagues. If you’re working from home, make sure you’re still taking those breaks throughout the day. Set an alarm to get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Catch up with a colleague or friend for five minutes on a phone call. Take a quick walk down the block to get some fresh air.

Whether you work in an office or at home, make sure you actually take your lunch break. It can be easy to eat at your desk and find yourself working through your lunch break. Take that time to mindfully eat and enjoy your meal and come back to your desk feeling recharged.

Make a separate workspace

Working remotely can have the advantage of being able to work anywhere. However, that can also mean you end up working everywhere.

It’s important to set up a clearly defined and separate workspace. Avoid working in places that you usually use to relax, such as a couch or bed, and in places where you should be focused on other activities besides work, such as while you’re driving. This will help keep your work and personal space from blending into each other so you can better focus on work when you’re working and focus on your personal life when you’re not.

Making a good workspace also means getting the accessories to physically support a healthy work environment. A comfortable chair, an ergonomic keyboard, a support stand for your computer, and wrist support can be a great investment to eliminate physical stress and strain, which helps reduce overall work stress.

Prioritize your health

Your physical, emotional and mental health should come first. When you’re working from home, you may find yourself working through illnesses or injuries that you typically would have called out of the office for.

It’s important to still take this sick time off. Overworking can extend your illness, possibly causing you to take more days off in the future. Taking care of your own health will help you cope with stress and avoid burnout. And it doesn’t have to be a radical lifestyle.

Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep are the first steps. Take time off when needed, including sick time, personal time, and vacations. Prioritizing your health will help you feel your best when at work and when spending time with loved ones.

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out, talk to a mental health provider for help. Your work may have an employee assistance program available.

Find a job - or hobby - that you love

You don’t need to love every aspect of your job, but when you dread getting up in the morning, it becomes difficult to achieve a happy, healthy work-life balance. If your job is draining you everyday or you are finding it difficult to enjoy your personal time outside of work, you may want to reassess your career goals.

Learn more about job opportunities and research fields of work that align with your interests. While we can’t expect work to satisfy all of our needs, it can certainly provide satisfaction, accomplishment, and connection.

For more ways to improve your well-being, visit the Being section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.