Work-Life Balance for Workaholics

In an increasingly stressed-out world, the phrase “work-life balance” resonates with us all. No matter how many hours we work each week, it always seems like there’s a little too much time spent in the office (or on the phone) and not enough time spent with family, friends, hobbies or leisure time.

Can we always control our work schedules and maintain a certain number of “off” hours? No. But, we can build better habits around the downtime we do have to make sure we get the most out of it.

Here are three things you can do each week to reclaim some of your work-life balance no matter how much you’re working.

Create a transition ritual

Some jobs come with a built-in transition period. For example, if you work with your hands or perform mostly manual labor, it’s hard to be “at work” when you’re not working. But for those of us who work in an office or work with other people, it’s easy to continue to mull over situations or try to think through problems even when we’re a long way from our desks.

Whether you work from home or work in an office, you need a clear transition ritual that tells your brain it’s time to stop working and to leave all of your work problems for the next day. This can be something as simple as enjoying a non-work related podcast on your commute home, or (in my case) practicing a musical instrument for 15 minutes before you transition out of your office.

When you’re off, be off

With advances in consumer mobile technology, the workday has essentially extended into a 24-hour cycle of checking email and voicemail. While physicians and some CEOs have an excuse to never “turn off,” it’s rarely a matter of life or death for a person or a business if the rest of us turn our phones off – it’s just the “busyness” myth that’s draining our batteries (and our energy) 24/7.

Take a look at your life and be honest. When is the last time you completely turned off your phone or removed all work-related information from your home computer, tablet, or mobile? If it’s not every night and every weekend for a set period of time, you’re never really resting. You’re always a beep, ring or buzz away from being pulled back into the emotional and psychological pressures of work.

Think long-term

It’s one thing to work a few extra hours for a product launch or during a particularly busy season. It’s another thing to find yourself regularly working overtime and choosing achievement in the office over rest and relaxation in your personal life. Over time, these choices lead to burnout and regret.

You track and measure important things at work. When was the last time you did so for your personal life? Schedule time each month to review your health, your eating and exercise habits, and the status of your personal life to make sure you aren’t letting work take over too much of the balance.

If you find that work is becoming an overwhelming factor in your life, brainstorm things you can do to avoid burnout such as taking a vacation, speaking with your manager about pulling back a little or even considering a less stressful job.

What are you doing to achieve a greater balance between work and life? Let us know in the comments!