For many people, achieving a balance between personal and professional life can seem almost impossible, especially now that many of us have had to work from home due to the COVID-19 quarantine. Creating that balance can seem like dream that only a few lucky human beings out there can achieve. However, with these 4 essential tips you can begin to create a balance that works for you.
There are several reasons why people work more and more. The desire to grow professionally, the fear of being fired, the pressure to achieve goals at work, and, as strange as it may seem, even the lack of what to do in free time, are some of those reasons. Whatever the reason, failing to take care of the balance between personal and professional life can bring negative consequences for our lives.
While letting work take care of all your time can bring problems such as stress, worsening personal relationships or even the famous burnout syndrome, completely ignoring your professional life can also lead to problems such as financial difficulties and lack of professional fulfillment.
Although there is no standard rule that works for everyone when it comes to achieving this balance, it is important that you take the time to reflect on the matter considering some of the ideas presented below.
4 Essential Tips to Create Balance Between Personal and Professional Life
1. Do not idealize the balance between personal and professional life
When we think about “personal and professional balance” it seems that this is something perfect and well defined. The truth that it’s not.
Do not expect to take the hours of your day and divide exactly in half, leaving 12 hours when you will be at your peak of productivity and 12 hours when work will not even cross your mind – this is hardly going to happen.
The important thing is to be aware of how you are feeling at each moment and make a realistic plan to balance all your activities. Most likely you will need to work harder at some times, while at others you will be able to stop earlier without worry.
Don’t let “reaching balance” become another source of anxiety and stress on your life. You will not be able to have total control over everything that happens in your life, so try to understand your limits and needs over time so you can find balance in the long run.
2. Find a job that makes sense to you
Everyone has bills to pay, but that is not why you should be subjected to a job that you hate your whole life. Finding a job that satisfies your interests and feeling of professional fulfillment is important to lead a lighter and happier life.
It’s also important not to idealize this issue, because in the end work is work, so don’t expect all your days to be perfect. Life is not all cupcakes and roses.
Some things are just boring or even demotivating, and that’s absolutely normal. Find something that brings some satisfaction and sense of meaning. By finding this your professional life won’t drain your energy or affect your life outside of work.
3. Understand what your goals are
Success advertising is something that conquers many people for its strong appeal. “Work hard and get rich! Go beyond your limits and gain prominence! Leave competitors behind and achieve success!”. We see cliché mottos like this all the time!
Far from wanting to diminish the value or the importance of hard work, the point here is to get you to think about what your real goals are, what you need to do to achieve them and what sacrifices you are willing to make.
If your goal is to make a fortune as quickly as possible, it can even mean an intense work routine, probably going beyond eight hours a day and five days a week. Are you willing to sacrifice weekends and leisure hours in pursuit of that goal? If so, go ahead, but be aware of the consequences that this can bring to your physical, mental and social health.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to make that kind of sacrifice, it may take you longer to achieve any professional goals. And that’s fine. It is not just millionaires and senior professionals who achieve happiness, and you can find fulfillment even with slower growth. Life is not just work, so don’t let it define who you are.
4. Avoid mixing personal and professional life
This does not mean that you should avoid making friends or approaching people at your job. Building close ties with professional colleagues can even be a great way to increase your sense of accomplishment at work. This point is about being able to organize the different moments of your life and not letting one interfere on the other.
The key here is communication and organization. Understand what the team’s demands are to be able to organize your own routine and then make it clear and well explained to all the people with whom you need to interact at work in which moments you will or will not be available – and fulfill this availability.
When it is time to work, avoid distractions and focus on resolving all outstanding issues so as not to create bottlenecks in your own activities and even in common matters for the entire team or company. Organize your routine to enjoy your most productive moments when you are working.
Likewise, when you are not working, try to turn off professional matters completely and focus on other activities. Spend time with your family and friends, exercise, read books, watch TV shows, get involved in any activity that makes you feel good and don’t let work get in the way.
If you have agreed with your entire team that you will not be working after a certain time and everyone is fine with it, be sure to shut yourself down completely. Don’t be accessing your work email, don’t get involved in professional activities or anything like that. Remember: do not idealize this balance. Of course, emergencies may arise in which you will have to resolve something outside of working hours, but that should be the exception, not the rule.
Last but not least, the most important advice is: get started. Do not expect to change your whole life overnight, take the time to reflect on all the points presented in this text and start making small adjustments, baby steps in your day to improve your personal and professional balance little by little.