Everyone wants a strong work-life balance. Work-life balance makes us more fulfilled, satisfied, and healthy.
But work-life balance still feels unattainable for so many. Experts keep coming out with “tips and tricks” in an effort to provide the ultimate work-life balance to those still struggling. But these “tips” often don’t end up working or don’t fit into our everyday lives.
How often do you try something for a day or two and find that it just isn’t sustainable for you?
For example, people will tell you the best way to balance your life is to add more hours to your day by waking up earlier. But maybe your body can’t handle waking up at 4am everyday. You notice that it depresses your immune system and you start getting sick more often. For some people, this may work; for others, it actually has a negative impact.
Not everyone has the same work-life balance needs. All of the circulating “absolutes” can end up hurting some people’s experieence of work-life balance.
Below we’ll go through some of the most popular “bad” advice for achieving work-life balance and what you should be focusing on instead to find the balance you crave.
1. You need balance every day.
You’ll often hear, “Make the commitment to leave work at 5pm, so you can spend the rest of the night living your life.”
While this is a great goal, it doesn’t always work that way, especially for hourly or shift workers. Some days, the hours will run long. Some days, a project will come up that needs attending to. Some days, you’ll need to work the night or overnight shift.
While it’s important to not spend all your time at work, it’s not feasible to say that you need to have the same number of hours at work and at home every day.
It doesn’t have to be a daily balance. “Work-life balance” has a much longer timeline. You can create this balance throughout the week, throughout the month, and even over the course of a few months.
Work-life balance does not mean balancing hours. “Work-life balance” is a time management style that focuses on finding time to do the activities you love in a schedule that works for you.
2. You need to prioritize your family.
Work-life balance doesn’t mean that you need to spend more time with your family. Often, when experts talk about “work-life balance,” they end up talking about ways for Americans to spend more time with their family.
But “balance” doesn’t necessarily mean putting your family first. For some people, work-life balance means that they actually want to prioritize work more. For some, it means prioritizing their own health over their work or family.
You should never feel guilty about having a specific type of work-life balance.
The purpose of work-life balance is to have a balance that you want, not a balance that the external world lays out for you.
Instead, don’t think about “if I want to have a life, I need to focus on spending more time with my kids.” Instead, understand your priorities and values in order to shape your ideal work-life balance. Learn how to prioritize your values here.
3. Multitask to get more done.
Multitasking is actually the biggest productivity killer. It can destroy your ability to spend time wisely.
Neuroscience has proven that we are wired to be mono-taskers, and only 2.5% of people can actually multitask effectively. Multitasking may actually lower IQ and even impair cognitive function in the long-term. (Forbes)
Trying to multitask eats at your energy levels without correlated accomplishment.
Rather than multitasking, focus on accomplishing one task at a time. This will improve your productivity and keep your motivation levels high as you power through checking things off your to-do list.
You should also try “overlapping” tasks. What can you do to take care of multiple tasks or areas of your life at once? For example, you need to workout but you also want to spend more time with your family. Going hiking with your kids is a great way to cover both your health and family time.
4. Work and life need to be balanced.
It seems counterintuitive that we’re saying the phrase “work and life need to be balanced” is bad work-life balance advice.
At Forge, we don’t like the idea that work and life should be “balanced.” This separates work from life. It also labels “life” as “everything that’s not work.” This includes friends, family, health, personal time, and more. This even includes making time for building business connections.
We believe that your mindset about life shapes the way you live. If you think you need to balance work and life, you’re segmenting your existence into two parts. This can create a strain on your time management if you feel you only have two factors to “balance.”
Rather, segment your life into multiple different areas. Don’t think of work and life as separate, but instead work to build a fluid and seamless transition between the many facets and activities of your life.
There is so much more to life than just work and “everything else.”
5. Plan your work-life balance around your retirement.
Another troublesome mindset is the idea of retirement. So many people trudge through their working lives looking forward to the day they can retire. They see retirement as the time where they can finally enjoy their life and do those activities they’ve always loved.
You can waste 50 years of your life with this kind of “saving” mindset. Saving your life for retirement is the best way to destroy your life today.
If you neglect everything until retirement, you’ll have nothing left when that “freedom” finally comes. Your health will be gone because you didn’t take care of yourself properly. Your kids will be grown. Your friends and significant other will have all gone their own ways because you didn’t cultivate those relationships.
Work-life balance starts today. Don’t wait to live your life.
6. Live for the weekend.
Thankfully, a lot of people have started moving away from this advising the “work hard, play hard” mindset. Studies are proving that killing yourself for five days to have freedom over the weekend actually damages physical and mental health.
Work-life balance means you can balance your schedule whenever and however you want. It doesn’t mean you wait around for the weekend, hoping that you’ll finally get two days of fun and rest. (And more often than not, we’re glued to our phones and email even when we’re “off the clock” over the weekends.)
Create a schedule that works for you. If you like the five-day grind and two-day rest, then create that balance for yourself. But this doesn’t work for everyone, especially those with a part-time or hourly job.
Anyone who has worked in the restaurant or retail industries knows that “weekends” don’t really matter. Any day can be a weekend day. You can and should live your life Monday through Friday just as much as you do on Saturday and Sunday. You can hang out with your friends on a Wednesday night. You can go grocery shopping on a Tuesday. You can go hiking on a Thursday morning.
It doesn’t matter when you live as long as you do.
7. Ask your boss for more time off.
“More time off” is a short-term solution. It will give you more time this week or this month, but it doesn’t solve your overall work-life balance.
Instead, talk to your boss about flexible work options. Is there a way you can work remotely or on your own schedule? Have a discussion with your boss about the benefits of flexible work to present your case for greater flexibility.
If your job isn’t willing to be flexible, it’s time to make a choice. Are you willing to keep living the career and life you’re living or do you want to have greater balance over your own existence?
If you want to try out a flexible schedule, sign up for FREE to be a Forge Team Member and have complete control over your work-life balance!
Practical work-life balance tools
Below are our favorite work-life balance resources to help you take control of your own schedule and time management.
- How To Say “No” For Work-Life Balance
- 9 Ways To Have Work-Life Balance In The 24/7 Restaurant Industry
- 15 Work-Life Balance Quotes To Live By In 2018
- 9 Tips For Working Parents Making It Work
- How To Start A Daily Intention Journal For Work-Life Balance
- Stop Putting “Make To Do List” On Your To Do List
- The Tree Of Time Management
Your work-life balance is yours. Your values and priorities dictate how you balance the various facets of your life.
Taking control of your work-life balance starts by taking control of your schedule.
Own your work-life balance now!
Sign up for FREE to be a Forge Team Member! You’ll have complete control over your work schedule and access to local companies hiring flexible, hourly employees.
Sign up now to finally have the work-life balance you’ve always wanted.