The term “work life balance” is said and used all the time. It’s a pretty common phrase that just seems to be thrown around as something everyone needs and wants…but when it comes down to it, what is it?
Is balance the same for everyone or does it vary? Is there an overarching goal we should all be aiming for? Is it quantifiable or just a feeling?
According to Harvard Business Review, “satisfaction at work is influenced by factors such as benefits, pay, relationships, and commute length. But all of this boils down to two things being important, regardless of your circumstances: (1) having a life outside of work, and (2) having the money to afford it.”
What does that even mean? Well, while there may be other things involved when it’s all said and done balance is a place where we have a decent life that doesn’t involve work and some cash to enjoy it.
We all do have different scales of happiness within what we do outside of work as well as the payment we hope to make. But, according to HBR, these two things are the meat of where we find balance.
So, let’s break down both parts, together.
Life Outside the Office
It seems simple to create a life outside of work, but … not so much.
If we are constantly in the office, bringing work home, or are so stressed about the work day that we can’t seem to leave our mental baggage from the job- we will never achieve living life “outside of the office.”
Let’s break down six ways to separate yourself from the office.
Leave work at work.
Make a full commitment to yourself to not bring anything from your office to your home. That means no papers, laptop, client files… nothing. What this might mean is an extra hour or two on the job but will lead to COMPLETE separation once you close that office door.
Make meaningful plans.
A life outside of the office typically involves surrounding yourself with people you enjoy being around. Don’t just make plans to make plans, but when you do ensure it’s who you want to be with and you are there 110%. When we add things to our schedule that we don’t want to do, it’s exhaustive to our wallet and time.
Leave drama at the office.
Sometimes this might be hard to commit to, but try your best! Leave the office drama in the office. Take a longer drive or walk home, go to the gym right after the office. Whatever it takes to clear your mind from your day so you can fully enjoy your evening.
Use your PTO days.
Don’t feel guilty for using your vacation days! You earned them and they are part of your compensation package. Who cares that your coworker hasn’t used a day in 10 years? According to Alamo Rent A Car’s annual family vacation survey, millennials are almost twice as likely to shame each other for using their time as compared to other generations. Don’t be that person shaming or not using your days.
Pick a time to leave and stick to it.
Talk to your supervisor and work out a reasonable time to leave the office. If you have additional work to do that extends beyond hours, ask if you can come in later the next day. In order to have a life outside of the office, you need to actually leave the office.
Don’t eat in your office.
Yes, it’s so tempting to grab lunch or heat up that soup and go straight back to your desk. DON’T DO IT. Take a short walk, eat your lunch in the park, catch up with a friend on the phone someplace else, run an errand. Just do something that’s not in your office in the same chair you have been sitting in all day.
Having the money to afford life outside the office
I am by no means a financial consultant, but it is important to have a budget. No matter how much you are making, if you aren’t aware of your expenses you will always be searching for more money and running into the same problems. There are a few apps and online tools that not only help with budgets but are user friendly. I would highly suggest checking them out.
You can create budgets, review bills, see alerts for unusual activity, review your credit score and more.
This free service helps to trick you into saving money. It tracks your spending and moves some cash into a savings account.
You can track your cash flow, net-work, plan for retirement, review your investments and so much more.
This service helps you find the best offer to refinance your student loans. By refinancing, you can save thousands of dollars and decrease your monthly payments.
When it all boils down, spending time outside of the office doing something you love with the financial stability to do it is key to finding work/life balance.
Try setting a time to leave the office, leaving your work at work, only making plans with people you want to spend time with, and taking your lunch and vacation days.
Make sure you are also taking a better look at your finances to ensure you’re spending your money wisely.
What is one thing that has kept you back from achieving work/life balance?