To put it simply, since March 2020, life has been a lot. Workplaces have endured constant challenges – from transitioning to remote or hybrid, increased burnout, and The Great Resignation (aka The Great Renegotiation). All of this chaos has accumulated into a general (and universal) struggle to define and achieve work-life balance.
Work-Nonwork vs. Work-Life Balance
Before we dive into how to achieve or support your work-life balance, let’s lay a clear foundation of what work-life balance is:
Work-life balance is the “level of involvement between the multiple roles in a person’s life, particularly as they pertain to employment and family or leisure activities.” (American Psychological Association)
While work-life is the most commonly used term, we recommend using “work-nonwork” instead. It’s more inclusive and generalizable. For example, “work-life” and “work-family” are often connected to the concept of balancing your career with the responsibilities of children and spouses. Life simply isn’t that “traditional” anymore; especially with Gen Z entering the workforce.
Throughout the remainder of this blog and over the course of this 10-week blog series, we will be using work-nonwork balance in place of the widely popular phrase “work-life balance.”
Have you ever thought about how we consider work-nonwork balance a sort of end-state? Something that we need to achieve once to be set forever? The concept or perspective on balance is ultimately not realistic for most individuals.
A better word for “balance” might be “balancing.” Demands and responsibilities shift, some seasons of life are more hectic than others. We are actually all in an active and ongoing process of balancing the demands of our personal and professional environments. The definition of balance is also different for everyone. Each of our work and nonwork roles is personal and unique to us. Consequently, we will all have a different balance that works for us. The perfect balance isn’t necessarily 50-50.
That said, though we are sharing some tips to support work-nonwork balance you should take them each with a grain of salt. There is no template you can copy and paste to achieve work-nonwork balance. Instead, it is going to take a conscious habit of building and understanding your own demands and needs. Implementing these tips can help enable you to better balance your career and personal life.
Tips to Support Work-Nonwork Balance
Here are five tips that can help enable and support your personal work-nonwork balance:
1. Learn to say no
Learning to say no helps create healthy boundaries, prevent burnout, and promote better balance. Saying no is often uncomfortable, but it becomes easier with practice! Remember, you’re in charge of you – it’s ok to say no.
2. Take some time and unplug
Give your brain a mental break from work. Trust us, you will feel more energized and rejuvenated once you do. Figure out your hobbies and schedule time to fully immerse yourself and enjoy them. Maybe even try out some new ones like reading, crocheting, or hiking!
3. Understand job demands
We’ve mentioned demands a few times throughout this blog, but what exactly are they?
The way we are defining them comes from one of the most well-known models of stress, the Job Demands-Resources model. Job demands are physical or mental stressors like heavy workload, poor relationships, time pressures, or role ambiguity. Job resources are organizational, social, and physical factors that help meet demands and lower stress. Such as autonomy, strong relationships, development opportunities, or microbreaks. We are more likely to experience high stress and burnout when demands outweigh resources.
Having a clear understanding of what your job demands are and pondering the resources available can help you determine if there is an imbalance. Then you can determine your next course of action like dropping a demand or increasing a resource!
4. Set clear boundaries
Having boundaries is critical to a good work-nonwork balance! The first step to setting boundaries is identifying your non-negotiables. What’s critical for your well-being? Perhaps it is turning notifications off after 5 p.m. or only doing work in your designated office spaces so when you are not working, you can distance yourself from that area.
Setting professional boundaries can be really uncomfortable but if you’re not sure where to start, communicate with your manager, supervisor, or mentor. Talking through your priorities (both professional and personal) and learning how others maintain their boundaries can help you develop clear and consistent lines between work and nonwork.
Be upfront and honest!
5. Plan a response to boundary violations
Did you tell someone “no” but they didn’t quite get the message? Don’t panic! Calmly and clearly restate your boundaries. For example, “I appreciate you thinking of me for this project, but I’m unable to assist at this time.”
More on Workplace Well-being
With remote and hybrid work proving to be the future of work, work-nonwork balance will be an ongoing challenge that employees and employers alike need to keep front of mind. The need for workplace wellness or well-being support has never been greater!
That’s why we are excited to share more tips, best practices, and resources for balancing and supporting the workplace! Subscribe, so you don’t miss a post!