Finding an equilibrium between work and life is difficult for everyone, especially so for millennials. According to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder, nearly half of all workers under 35 say they struggle to balance work and personal responsibilities – which makes me wonder if the work-life balance is unrealistic.
Millennials tend to spend more time working than previous generations did, and are expected to continue doing so throughout their 30s. So, finding a balance between work and life is particularly challenging for young professionals.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the reasons why this generation struggles with balancing work and life. Then we’ll look at some strategies you can use to help you achieve that elusive work-life balance.
What Causes Poor Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is something we all strive for but achieving it seems unattainable for some. Why does it seem so difficult for some of us to achieve a healthy work-life balance?
The first step is understanding what causes it in the first place. The most common reason people report feeling overwhelmed with work and family obligations is that they don’t set enough boundaries for themselves.
For one, there’s no single right way to enjoy your downtime. In this case, that is your time outside of work. Some people prefer to have a lot of free time while others enjoy spending time with family and friends. Others prefer wanting to travel or volunteer in their community.
However, this is where one problem comes into play and that’s our inability to set boundaries, both at work and at home. If you feel like you can’t turn off your phone or stop checking emails while you’re out with friends, then you may need to make some changes.
At the same time, constantly checking into job-related activities while trying to enjoy time may drag you down a bit. On your day off, have you ever had to stop what you were doing to reply to a coworker’s text about a crisis happening at your job?
It’s healthy to understand that there’s a time for everything, and many of us struggle to leave work at the workplace. And at the same time, perhaps we also involve too much of our personal life with our jobs.
Career or Job Types
The type of career we have is also a major contributing factor. Many jobs require long hours and leave little room for flexibility.
Some jobs just require your availability at all times. Some examples include ER doctors, firefighters, and law enforcement. You may not be able to take unpaid time off when you need it, as these are very much “around the clock” careers.
Healthcare positions are definitely in that group of careers that may require 24/7 availability and response time for those employed.
Certain ways we go about word expectations can also get in the way. If you’re a perfectionist or someone who struggles with procrastination, then you might not be able to achieve a healthy work/life balance.
You’ll have, at times, some self-inflicted pressure to be the best at your job or wish to go above and beyond for your employer. This can be a sort of double-edged sword since you’re setting a standard for the level of productivity that can be hard to maintain as it’ll get in the way of your free time eventually.
Finally, other factors play into whether or not you’ll be able to achieve a healthy work/life balance. These include:
- We all have different needs and priorities. Some people prioritize having fun over being productive; others prioritize spending quality time with loved ones over earning money.
- Our time is limited. There are only 24 hours in a day, and we can only spend so much time doing things we enjoy.
- No matter how hard we try, we cannot be perfect all the time. Even when we make mistakes, we learn from them and move forward.
- Even though we may feel like we’re constantly busy, there are limits to what we can accomplish in a day.
- It’s okay to say no to projects and activities that aren’t aligned with our values and goals.
- Stress affects our health and well-being. Managing stress effectively allows us to focus on the tasks that are important to us.
Four Tips on Finding Stability —
Unhealthy levels of stress from both work and personal life can bring you down and, for some individuals, risk implosion. To avoid burnout or straining your mental health, it’s vital to practice self-care for yourself. Here are four tips to aid you in finding stability between work and your personal life.
1. Set Boundaries for Yourself
You may think you can’t control everything in your life, but you can. By setting boundaries with yourself, you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter most to you. For example, you may decide that you only want to answer emails during certain times of day, or that you won’t respond to texts until after 9 p.m.
2. Don’t Overcommit
Don’t let your workload become unmanageable. When you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. And, if you committed to someone else, honor it. It’s okay to say no to things that aren’t right for you. When you set boundaries, you’ll feel much better knowing that you’ve made the decision yourself rather than being forced into doing something you didn’t want to do.
3. Prioritize Your Downtime
It’s important to prioritize what matters most to you. Do you need to go out every night? Or, can you stay home instead and still enjoy yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice sleep for social media? Taking time for yourself is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Schedule regular breaks away from technology and allow yourself to relax.
4. Be Flexible About Schedules
Your schedule doesn’t have to be rigid. Instead, try scheduling flexibility around your commitments. Maybe you can leave work early on Fridays, or take a nap during lunch when you’re feeling tired. This may be harder for certain career types like those mentioned earlier.
Finding the stability between work and life isn’t easy. But, by making small changes in your daily routine, you can begin to put order into a messy schedule. The key is to take action, make time for yourself, and recognize when you’re simply doing too much in both your personal and professional life.