Balancing both life and work priorities can seem like an impossible juggling act. And when you first start your career it can feel like no one taught you how to juggle. It can be all too easy for work to take over. But the thing is, establishing boundaries now early in your career is critical. A better work-life balance will keep you sane and make you more successful in work AND life. Here are some tips to master the juggle:
1. Look to your boss: Look at how your boss manages their work-life balance. All too often we make assumptions in our head around responding to emails 24/7, staying late at the office, and taking on as much as possible. Look for cues on how they manage their time and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions around what’s acceptable versus not. They want you to have a life outside of work too!
2. Don’t be afraid to unplug: Try to get in the habit of not bringing work home with you unless you have to. I’m not saying avoid those extra nights before the big presentation, but maybe don’t refresh your inbox on a Saturday night.
3. Be aware of overflow: Workplaces now have happy hours, kickball teams, and plenty of other events that can extend the time you’re spending at work. Be aware of work taking over your entire life. It can be exhausting if all you do is talk about work during work hours and after work hours.
4. Analyze the pressure: If you’re feeling pressure to always be at work, think about why. Is it external (i.e. your boss setting expectations) or is it internal (i.e. feeling like working 24/7 means success)? Learning this about yourself can help you get at the root causes of your imbalance.
5. Be realistic about your workload: Your workload can easily overflow without your boss noticing. Be honest and transparent when asked for additional work so your boss has a full picture of your availability. Be honest with your boss if you find yourself working evenings and weekends more so than not.
6. Clarify your deadlines: When you feel your workload piling up, make sure you’re asking what tasks to prioritize and when the expected deadlines are. This can help an unmanageable to-do list a lot more manageable.
7. Use your vacation days: One in four Americans feel negative emotions about requesting time off work. Be one of the three in four. Vacations (and the occasional mental health day) are critical in keeping you feeling happy and avoiding burnout.
8. Recognize burnout: Speaking of burnout, figure out what that looks like for you. Your mental health always deserves to be a priority when figuring out work-life balance. When you feel yourself getting burned out, realize that you might need to take a day off or talk to your boss about your workload.
9. Flex your flexibility: Does your work offer a work from home day? Use it! Can you flex time and take off an extra day off? Use that too! Learn your perks to balance your work and life.
10. Realize when it might be time for a change: While you hold some power in dictating your work-life balance, your workplace sets the tone. If you find yourself being constantly pressured to work late/on weekends and make sacrifices when it comes to your other priorities, consider looking around for a workplace that offers a better work-life balance.
Mastering juggling work and life won’t happen overnight. But small changes like these tips will help you set healthier boundaries and put the “life” back into work-life balance.