We are often so focused on achieving success that we neglect our own well-being. We need to establish a healthy balance between work and everything else in order for us not only physical, emotional, or mental health but also career prospects will improve greatly. 

Achieving this kind of harmonious working life isn’t always easy – it takes determination as well as some cautious compromises when you’re juggling several balls at once (professional obligations versus family commitments). However, there has been a significant increase in awareness lately around how important these issues really ARE! 

There is no magic formula for the perfect work-life balance, but in this article, we’ll give you some tips to get started. 

What is work-life balance, and why is it important?

Work-life balance means having a healthy ratio of time spent working to time spent not working. It includes, but is not limited to, maintaining healthy boundaries between our professional and personal lives. 

The goal is to achieve a sense of control over our work so that it doesn’t control us. When we have a good work-life balance, we tend to feel more productive, creative and engaged at work, and we also feel happier and less stressed in our personal lives. 

What are the benefits of having a work-life balance?

There are many benefits to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, both at work and in your personal life. Some of these benefits include: 

Improved physical health

Nowadays, health is a big concern for many people. A healthy lifestyle is not only about eating right and exercising but also about having a good balance between work and leisure time. From weight gain and neck pain to an increased risk of smoking and alcohol consumption, working overtime can have a number of negative consequences on our health. 

 

In Japan, they have a term for death by overwork, “karoshi”, and it’s not uncommon. In fact, in 2015, claims of “death by work” had risen to a record high of 2,310, according to a report by the Japanese Labour Ministry. And while the Japanese working culture is unique, long work hours are a global problem.  

A joint release by WHO found that those who worked more than 55 hours per week had a “35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week.” 

The report continues to state that: 

“In a first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO estimate that, in 2016, 398 000 people died from stroke and 347 000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42%, and from stroke by 19%.” 

Joint News Release 2021 World Health Organization 

Greater productivity:

According to the Journal of Management Research paper, The Use of Communication Technologies After Hours: The Role of Work Attitudes and Work-Life Conflict, authors (2007) argue that the inability of workers to balance work and life tasks can have negative consequences for organizations, such as increased absenteeism and turnover, decreased productivity, reduced job satisfaction, and higher healthcare costs.  

The research also states that workers who have a hard time balancing their work and life responsibilities are more likely to use communication technologies, such as email and text messaging, after hours for work-related purposes. 

Plus, long working hours and overloading lead to a decreased capacity to stay focused on work, which leads to poorer work quality and quantity. In turn, this decreases productivity levels as employees become tired and frustrated.   

Creates a better overall outlook:

When you’re happy with your job and career, it will show in your attitude. A positive outlook can lead to increased motivation, which can help you succeed professionally. Furthermore, happy employees are also more engaged with their work. A study from the University of Warwick found that happiness leads to a 12% spike in productivity. 

“At Google, we know that health, family and wellbeing are an 

important aspect of Googlers’ lives. We have also noticed that 

employees who are happy … demonstrate increased motivation. … 

½We … work to ensure that Google is … an emotionally healthy 

place to work. ðLara Harding, people programs manager, Google” 

When you’re satisfied with your career and have a good work-life balance, it will show in your attitude, which can lead to increased motivation and success at work. 

Reduced stress levels

According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress is cited as the leading source of stress for American adults and is responsible for up to $300 billion per year in health care costs.  

There are many physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain. Stress can also lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. 

How stress is manifested in work? It can be anything like “I don’t have time for a break”, “I can never get my work done”, “I’m always behind”, or “I’m so overwhelmed”. These are just some examples, but you get the idea. 

Work-life balance can help reduce stress levels by ensuring that you have time for activities outside of work that make you happy. When you have hobbies and interests outside of work, it can help you relax and de-stress. In turn, this can lead to improved focus and concentration at work. 

Improved mental health

A lack of work-life balance can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. In fact, the World Health Organization has designated burnout as an occupational phenomenon. 

Burnout is characterized by three main dimensions: 

  • Exhaustion: feeling physically and emotionally drained 
  • Cynicism: feeling negative or hopeless about your job 
  • Inefficacy: feeling like you’re not able to do your job well 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional. 

10 Tips to improve your work-life balance

a working mom working from her bed while her daughter is playing

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a work-life balance. What works for one person might not work for another. The key is to find what works best for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few tips to get you started: 

1. Set boundaries between work and home life.

When you’re at work, focus on work. When you’re at home, focus on your personal life. It can be difficult to disconnect from work when you bring your laptop home or check your email after hours, but it’s important to set boundaries between your professional and personal life.  

One way to do this is to establish “tech-free” zones in your home, where you can put away your devices and focus on spending time with loved ones or participating in activities that you enjoy.  

Also, it is important to communicate your boundaries to your employer and co-workers, so they are aware of your expectations. We recommend being assertive but polite when doing so. For example, if you don’t want to be disturbed after 7 p.m., you can say something like, “I am unavailable after 7 p.m. unless it is an emergency.”  

Learning to say “no” when you feel overwhelmed or burned out is another key boundary to set. Saying “no” does not make you a bad employee, it makes you a healthy one. 

2.  Prioritize your health.

Your health should be your number one priority—without it, you can’t function at your best. If you’re not feeling well or your body is telling you to slow down, don’t ignore it. Take a break, get some rest, and come back feeling refreshed. Prioritizing your health also means maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly 

We recommend having small breaks in between work, walking around, stretching, or just taking a mental break. Maybe you can use your lunch break to go on a walk or listen to a podcast. Small things like these can make a world of difference in how you feel both mentally and physically. 

3. Use THAT Lunch Break.

Having a bite while answering emails at your desk is not a true lunch break. Some of us are guilty of eating at our desks, but it’s important to step away from your work and take a real break. Not only is it good for your physical health, but it can also improve your focus and concentration when you return to work. 

If possible, try to get out of the office for lunch. Take a walk, go to a nearby park, or eat at a restaurant. If you can’t leave the office, see if there’s a common area where you can eat with co-workers. And if all else fails, at least step away from your desk and have lunch in the break room. 

You are entitled to a lunch break, so use it!  

4. Find a job that makes you happy.

Your career should be something that you enjoy and are passionate about. It’s important to find a job that makes you happy, so you don’t dread going to work every day. Of course, it’s not always possible to find a dream job, but there are ways to make your current job more enjoyable. 

One way to do this is by setting goals for yourself and taking pride in your accomplishments. When you have something to work towards, it can make even the most mundane tasks feel more purposeful. Also, try to build positive relationships with your co-workers and bosses. Having a good support system at work can make a big difference in how you feel about your job. 

5. Strive for a realistic schedule.

Trying to do too much in a day is a recipe for disaster. If your to-do list is constantly growing and you can’t seem to catch up, it’s time to reevaluate your schedule. Take a step back and figure out what is realistic for you to accomplish in a day, week, or month. Then, start setting some limits. 

One way to do this is by batching similar tasks together. For example, if you need to make a bunch of phone calls, do them all at once instead of spreading them out throughout the day. This will help you use your time more efficiently and prevent task switching, which can lead to efficiency losses of up to 40 percent. 

6. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

You don’t have to be a superhero—it’s okay to ask for help. Whether you need help at work or home, don’t be afraid to reach out to others. At work, delegate tasks to your co-workers or ask your boss for a lighter workload if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

At home, delegate household tasks to other family members or hire help if needed. You can also look into grocery delivery or other services that can make your life easier. The goal is to take some of the pressure off of yourself so you can focus on what’s important. 

[Read more: 11 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Workload]

7. Schedule time for yourself.

By all means, spend time with your family and friends, but don’t forget to schedule some “me” time, too. This is the time when you can do something you enjoy without stress or obligations. It might be reading a book, taking a yoga class, or going for a walk in the park. Taking some time for yourself will help you recharge and be more productive when you are working. Also, consider taking some time off and enjoying a vacation. Go somewhere nice, rewind! 

8. Practice self-compassion.

We all make mistakes—it’s part of being human. When you do make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Be understanding and compassionate with yourself, just as you would with others. A little self-compassion can go a long way in reducing stress and improving your well-being. 

Ask yourself these questions from time to time 

  • Are you hard on yourself? 
  • Do you have unrealistic expectations for yourself? 
  • Do you often put your needs last? 
  • Do you criticize yourself a lot? 
  • What would happen if you treated yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you offer to others? 

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, it might be time to start practicing self-compassion.  

There are a few ways that you can practice self-compassion:

  1. Be gentle and understanding with yourself. 
  2. Give yourself time to recover after making a mistake. 
  3. Offer yourself compassion when you’re feeling down or stressed out. 
  4. Tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can. 
  5. Reward yourself for your accomplishments, big or small. 
  6. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day. 
  7. Remember that everyone makes mistakes—you’re not alone. 
  8. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. 
  9. Take care of yourself—mind, body, and soul. 
  10. Seek professional help if you’re struggling with self-compassion. 

It takes time and practice to develop self-compassion, but it’s worth it! When you are kinder to yourself, you will feel less stressed and more capable of dealing with life’s challenges.  

9. Make time for your relationships.

Relationships are an important part of a happy and fulfilling life. Whether you have a partner, children, close friends, or extended family members, make sure to schedule time for the people you care about. Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Also, this will help to improve your relationship and prevent misunderstandings down the road. 

10. Remember that balance is a journey, not a destination.

Work-life balance is something that you need to actively strive for—it’s not something that you achieve and then maintains indefinitely. Rather, it’s a journey that you need to constantly work towards. As your life changes, so too will your work-life balance. Be flexible and adjust your priorities as needed. 

Creating a Flexible and Happy Work Environment for All

It’s no secret that a happy work environment is good for business. When employees are satisfied, they are more productive and less likely to leave. But what makes a workplace happy?  

There’s no one answer to this question, as each person has different needs and preferences. However, there are a few basic things that can make any workplace more enjoyable for everyone:  

  1. Flexibility: A flexible work environment is one where employees feel like they have some control over their schedules and workload. This might mean being able to choose your own hours, working from home occasionally, or having a say in which projects you work on.  
  2. Supportive Management: A good manager will provide support, guidance, and feedback to their employees. They will also create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated.  
  3. Opportunities for Growth: Employees who feel like they are stuck in a dead-end job are more likely to be unhappy at work. Therefore, it’s important to offer opportunities for career growth and development. This might include training programs, mentorship opportunities, or chances to take on new responsibilities.  
  4. Work-Life Balance: A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee satisfaction. When employees feel like they have enough time for their personal lives, they are less stressed and more productive at work.  
  5. Positive Company Culture: A positive company culture is one that values its employees and creates a sense of community. This might include things like social events, team-building exercises, or charitable work.  

Creating a happy work environment is good for business—it will help to attract and retain employees, and boost productivity.  

Kiimkern: Never Let Your Location Limit Your Potential!

Recently at Kiimkern, we’ve put to the test “travel while working” with H.Sarah and T.Sarah (yes, we have two Sarahs on our team!). They both decided to travel to Turkey together. 

As a company, we’ve been supportive of their travel because we believe that if you can work from anywhere, you should be able to live anywhere. We also know that the best way to learn is by getting out there and experiencing new things.  

The two Sarahs have been living and working in Istanbul for the past month, and they love it! They’ve been able to explore a new city, learn about a different culture, and try new things. And, of course, they’re still getting their work done! 

If you’re thinking about traveling while you work, we say go for it! There’s no reason to let your location limit your potential. With today’s technology, you can pretty much work from anywhere in the world. So get out there and explore!