Working professionals are constantly aiming for the “holy grail” of the corporate lifestyle: achieving “work/life balance”. Experts argue back and forth about whether this balance truly exists or if it is a marketing ploy by wellness and corporate bodies to manipulate exhausted employees. Regardless of your opinions of work/life balance as a concept, all you need to know is how to improve your own sense of balance between your work and life. Perfection is elusive, but taking realistic actions to get closer to feeling your best energy levels will pay off in your personal and professional life. 

Know What You Want

One of the fastest ways to destroy your sense of work/life balance is to compare your own journey and lifestyle to someone else’s. You may not feel like you are missing out on time with your family until you see another parent getting more. You may feel like you have freedom in your job until you see someone else working from home. Comparison to others’ work/life experience is a damaging habit that can easily be broken. All you need to do is get crystal clear on what your ideal lifestyle looks like, and then avoid beating yourself up for anything outside of your vision. 

Get clear on what you want by:

  • Deciding what hours you’d love to spend at work and at home
  • Specifying which healthy habits are priorities for you
  • Learning how many hours of sleep are important to function
  • Deciding what a social life means to you 

Set Healthy Boundaries

Getting clear on the exact lifestyle you want prepares you to set healthy boundaries in order to achieve it. If you have been feeling overwhelmed about your work/life balance, there may be specific actions and conversations needed to change your situation. Be confident in these approaches rather than shying away because your lifestyle and energy levels will reward you for advocating for yourself. Learning about boundaries and practicing the conversations will help you be proactive in the future if your work/life balance is threatened. 

Examples of setting healthy boundaries include:

  • Asking your boss for mental health days or better hours
  • Communicating with your partner that they need to support you more
  • Saying “no” to events and obligations that damage your mental health
  • Asking friends to be flexible with activities to support your rest and wellbeing

Ask for Help When You Need It

Once you’ve established your ideal work/life relationship and practice setting healthy boundaries, you may realize you still need extra support. Mental and physical health play a huge role in your work/life balance including your energy levels, mood, relationships, sick days, and more. Being proactive about your mental and physical health can save you time and money in the long term as you navigate challenges that interfere with your work and personal life. By learning to ask for help when you need it, you set the tone for an interactive support system that can help you function rather than fall behind personally or professionally. 

Consider these resources to help protect your physical and mental health:

  • Licensed psychologist or therapist 
  • Holistic treatment centers for serious disorders or addictions
  • Support groups and organizations
  • Regular visits with your doctor
  • Check ins with your loved ones to ask for support 

Maximize Your Time and Energy 

Learning how to maximize your time and energy is a skill that will allow you to do more in less time. Growing your productivity skills allows you to achieve more at work while also saving precious time to nurture your personal life. The more you can do to take care of yourself while staying competitive at work, the more sustainable your lifestyle will feel. Balance is less about staying busy and more about cutting corners to increase the time you spend doing what you want. Learning how to organize your tasks and time in a healthy way can also improve your mental health at work, giving you less stress to bring home at the end of a long day. 

Practice these productivity hacks to maximize your efforts:

  • Time batch so you can complete tasks uninterrupted
  • Delegate tasks that can be done by someone else 
  • Hire support for housekeeping or babysitting if you are able
  • Prepare your meals ahead of time for more time spent relaxing at home
  • Take your calls on a walk to include fitness into your work routine

Work/life balance is less about achieving an ideal and more about taking small actions that bring you more joy and relaxation. Feeling fulfilled and setting boundaries in work and life allow you the proper rest and mental health to thrive in both. Consider these ideas the next time you feel like your work/life relationship can use improvement, and remember that the best routine is simply the one you want. 

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+: @Pat_Bailey80;