As people feel the impact on daily life during a global pandemic, maintaining work-life balance and harmony is more important than ever. A 2020 Harris Poll found that stress related to the economy and work has increased significantly since 2019, with 70% of respondents saying that work was a significant stressor in their lives.
This may be especially true for adults who started telecommuting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as studies have shown that employees who telecommute work an average of three hours more per week than on-site workers. Students who started attending school online may also be struggling to maintain boundaries.
Finding work-life balance and harmony not only reduces stress, it prevents burnout and ensures that people have time for friends and family. If your professional or student life has started to impact your personal life, it may be time to make a change. Below are a few ways you can regain control.
Work-Life Balance vs. Work-Life Harmony Defined
Work-life balance and work-life harmony may seem similar, but they are not synonymous. Work-life balance refers to how people manage the time they dedicate to work and the time they spend on other activities. Work-life harmony involves incorporating work into the rest of life in a way that promotes happiness both at home and in the office. While work-life balance is an older concept, many of today’s business leaders are now embracing the idea of work-life harmony.
How to Find Work-Life Balance
Workers, students, and those who do both can take several steps toward achieving a healthy work-life balance.
- Create a Dedicated Workspace: Establishing a dedicated space to study and work, whether a desk in a home office or space at your kitchen table, can help you mentally separate work and study time from personal time.
- Establish a Routine: Office workers often have a set routine: listening to a certain podcast on the commute, stopping at a favorite coffeehouse, walking during lunch breaks. Establishing a routine when working from home, such as powering up your computer at a set time and taking regular breaks, can help you separate work and study time from your home life.
- Communicate: If you feel overwhelmed with your workload, be upfront with your supervisor or instructors. If roommates or family members are disrupting your schedule, express your needs to those around you. Clear communication can lead to effective
How to Find Work-Life Harmony
Achieving work-life harmony means reassessing how you integrate your work life into your personal life. They shouldn’t be in competition — they should coexist. These steps can help you start on the path to work-life harmony.
- Be Present: When you’re working, make sure you’re fully engaged with your tasks and activities. Then, put your work responsibilities out of mind when you’re off the clock.
- Set Priorities: Establish goals and priorities for work, school, and home. This will help you focus on the tasks that give you satisfaction, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment.
- Enjoy What You Do: If you’re not already passionate about your work, find purpose in what you do and embrace it. If you can’t, it may be time to explore alternate career or academic And if you don’t have enough personal or family time, make changes to allow for those rewarding experiences.
Benefits of Work-Life Balance and Harmony
Work-life balance and harmony are important on a variety of fronts. In addition to reducing sickness, stress, and burnout, improving one’s work-life balance and harmony also increases happiness and productivity.
- Improved Health: People who feel overworked often experience high levels of stress, and studies have shown that stress hormones can have a negative impact on the body. Chronic stress can trigger headaches, weaken the immune system, and wear you down emotionally. Maintaining work-life balance and harmony can help prevent illness, fatigue, and insomnia.
- Increased Productivity: Individuals who improve their work-life balance and harmony tend to become more productive, both professionally and personally. When people feel less pressured, they’re often better able to complete tasks, whether finishing a big work project, repainting the guest room, or training for a marathon.
- Less Burnout: Maintaining work-life harmony is essential to limiting work-related stress. Consequently, professionals who lack work-life balance and harmony often feel overwhelmed and burned out, which can impact their desire to get things done. Other symptoms of burnout may include moodiness, emotional exhaustion, and reduced performance.
Tips to Regain Control
If you need to improve your work-life balance and harmony, these steps can help you regain control.
- Learn How to Say No: If you already feel overwhelmed with work and are asked to take on a new project, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. If you feel overburdened with obligations in your personal life, it’s OK to cancel plans or decline invitations to social events.
- Accept Your Limits: Do you feel as if you need to accomplish everything by yourself? You don’t. It’s OK to seek help from others. If you’re starting to feel swamped, focus on solving near-term issues first.
- Evaluate Your Time: If you feel overwhelmed, you may be overcommitted. Evaluate how long it takes you to complete various tasks and plan your schedule accordingly. Delegate tasks to others. This can help you focus on the tasks where you excel and that give you a sense of satisfaction.
- Adjust Your Schedule: Balancing work, school, and family obligations — which for parents now often means helping your kids with their own remote learning — can be difficult. If you’re struggling to do it all, ask your boss if you can work during nonstandard business hours. To build harmony, schedule family time that doesn’t involve schoolwork.
- Take Care of Your Health: Make time for exercise, whether walking the dog, hiking with your kids, or practicing yoga. Try to get eight hours of sleep every Physical activity and rest can help your mood, creativity, and productivity.
Finding Your Groove
Being married to your job (or studies) can be unhealthy, whether you’re a single 20-something or a married mom of four. If you don’t have a healthy work-life balance or work-life harmony, refocus your goals and strive to achieve an environment that fits your vision. Set manageable daily goals, take breaks, and stay active. Remember — successfully integrating your work and personal life will not only improve your mental well-being, it can improve your physical health as well.