Today, we’re spending longer hours at our jobs, and technology makes it easier to stay connected to work even when we’re not at the office. So, it may seem impossible to have a work-life balance. Putting in the work to help your business grow and succeed is important. But overdoing it can have negative effects on your life.
The U.S. ranks 29th out of 40 countries for work-life balance, and 11% of employees work 50 or more hours a week.1 Spending most of your time during the week at work can impact your health, making you more tired and increasing your stress levels.2
Emphasizing work-life balance tips for you and your employees is essential to remain healthy, happy and productive.
1. Leave Work at a Reasonable Hour
If you spend long work hours at your business, you’re at a greater risk of health issues. These can include sleep loss, heart disease and obesity, according to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.3 That’s is why it’s important you leave work at a reasonable hour.
Each business is unique, so it’s hard to know how many hours you should work. You might be feeling guilty if you think you haven’t put in enough time at your business. But working longer hours doesn’t always mean you’re more productive. To help prevent you from overworking, you can pick a set number of hours a day that you’ll spend at your business. A good starting point is to work 40 hours a week and have more free time outside of your business. The time you spend away from work is important for your health, and it may actually increase your overall productivity.
2. Take Breaks During Work
When you encourage breaks during work, you can improve workplace creativity and keep your employees engaged. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you and your employees can take short breaks during your work day that are no longer than 20 minutes.4 Whether it’s taking a short walk or getting up from your desk for a stretch, finding time to take breaks throughout your workday can help you and your employees get more done.
3. Just Say 'No' to Excessive Work
Whether you’ve been in business for years or just launched your startup, knowing when to say “no” can prevent you from taking on more work than you have time for. If you find yourself struggling to finish your workload, you can look at your current client list to determine which ones increase your stress levels and drain your energy. Respectfully tell these clients that you can’t take on their business right now. As a business owner, remember that saying “no” when you don’t have any amount of time to take on extra work is essential to striking a healthy work-life balance.
4. Schedule Time for Fun
There are only so many hours in a day. So, take the effort to schedule time for fun in your calendar. Scheduling things to do outside of work can encourage you to leave work at a reasonable hour. Spend time with your friends and family outside of work. Take vacation time or a day off to relax. You need to be away from your job to find balance between your work and home life.
5. Create a To-Do List
Creating a to-do list helps you and your employees know what the daily priorities are. Instead of spending the day trying to multitask and complete numerous projects, a to-do list can streamline your workday and responsibilities.
Whether you make a weekly or daily to-do list, make sure you’re completing the tasks on your lists. Otherwise, they’ll continue into the next day or week, which can make you overworked. If you want to make your business more organized and collaborative, look at our nine efficiency tips.
6. Leave Work at Work
With smartphones, it can be difficult to truly leave your work at work. This can be especially true if you’re working from home. But you need to separate your work and life to truly find a balance. So, this means while you’re home, you shouldn’t:
- Answer non-important work emails
- Continue working on projects
- Use your work phone or computer
7. Make Time for Yourself, Not Just Family
Balancing the needs of your family and kids and a successful career is difficult. But don’t forget you also need to make time for yourself.
The average worker in the U.S. spends 14.4 hours on leisure and personal care each day. This includes sleeping and eating.5 When you consider adults should be sleeping about eight hours a night, this means the average worker only spends around six hours on leisure activities. So, they’re spending more time working than they are for themselves.
Whether it’s socializing with friends and family or pursuing a hobby, make time for yourself. And know that it’s not putting your business at risk of failing. But instead, it’s helping to improve your physical and mental health, as well as improving your work-life balance.
3 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health: A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from 1998 to 2018”