Work is demanding ― you're expected to show up for a full day to complete your tasks, and sometimes, the expectation is set to be available 24/7, especially with the ubiquity of smart devices. Though it's commendable to excel at your career, when it bleeds into your personal life it can encroach on your mental and physical well-being.
"In our digitally driven world, it's imperative to maintain a work-life balance," Jackie Stone, CMO of MiMedia, a personal cloud storage company, told Business News Daily. "I've worked in digital media for more than 20 years and as we become more connected, more people have decided that staying 'on' 24/7 is socially acceptable — and it's not."
People need time to think, relax and give themselves a break: Otherwise, productivity will decrease, she added.
You need boundaries to achieve balance between your personal and professional lives. However, the subject doesn't have to be broached as completely black and white. As many experts have pointed out, balance isn't about building an impenetrable wall between your personal and professional lives, but finding ways to connect and integrate the two. [The Best 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance]
In their speaking series CEO Real Talk, entrepreneurs and business experts Garnett Newcombe and Kay Woods frequently cover the topic of work-life balance, and acknowledge that it's difficult to navigate the high demands of both career and home responsibilities. Newcombe and Woods told Business News Daily that employees often lack the ability to prioritize and balance their work and family life. Workers also have trouble overcoming the guilt of working long hours and accepting the need for individual personal time.
"I stress work-life balance because I believe other parts of the world have it right when it comes to life first, work second," said Monique Tatum, CEO of Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR. My team is happy to come to work and they are actually much more productive while they are here."
So what can workers do to stop stressing and start getting work-life balance right? Here are six actionable ways to help you adjust your attitude and feel more in control right now.
Recognize the role of work
Work plays a significant part in life. It keeps the lights on, pays the mortgage, makes the car payment, funds retirement and permits yearly vacations, Newcombe said. Adopting the right mind-set allows you to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than making your job seem like endless drudgery.
Don't be afraid to unplug
We live in a connected world that never sleeps. Turning off from the outside world provides time to recover from weekly stress.
"It also gives us space to let other thoughts and ideas surface. When you are always on, you don't allow other things to surface that might be more important," Stone said. "I meditate each morning for 10 minutes, which provides me with a great start to my day."
Create (and stick to) a daily routine
Like maintaining a calendar, implementing a strong daily routine will help keep you on track to achieve the balance you want. According to Lewis Howes, entrepreneur and author of "The School of Greatness" (Rodale Books, 2015), setting strong habits, such as sleeping 8 hours, avoiding checking your email for the first couple hours of the day, getting outside daily, and taking time to eat right and work out, will make you healthier and happier.
"It will absolutely reflect in your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity," Howes said. "Those are the traits that make up the greatest leaders and most successful people."
Make time for yourself
While being good at your job is important, it shouldn't be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position and you should prioritize those activities or hobbies that made you happy.
"Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or [take] a hot bath, it's important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself," said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Seven Step RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing).
"When [we] hire, we ask about [details like] books being read by the applicant. It shows that they have interests outside of work life," Tatum said.
Tatum suggests reading, traveling and fostering hobbies that have nothing to do with your career.
Take your vacation
Sometimes making time for yourself means taking a vacation and shutting work completely off.
"A vacation could be a 15-minute walk around the block without looking at your phone, or a vacation could be two or three weeks traveling with family/friends," Stone said. "It’s important to take a step back to physically and mentally recharge. If you are surrounded by good people at work, a vacation should be easy to take."
Be present, consistent and accountable
Being present requires you to be attentive at home, at work and during free time, Woods said. Where you spend your time and energy has a direct connection to how successful you are in achieving work-life balance.
"It's so easy to get caught up working, but it's so important to spend time with family, friends or other people who bring joy into our lives," Stone said. "Though it might not seem obvious at first, the memories that we create while spending time with those we love help spark new ideas, and ways of thinking."
Additional reporting by Nicole Taylor. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.