You hear about work-life balance all the time, but what does it really mean, and how do you know if you've achieved it?
"Work-life balance describes a condition when a person is able to manage responsibilities from both work and life in a healthy, productive way," said Dr. Joanie Connell, psychologist and founder of Flexible Work Solutions.
"From an individual's point of view, it means having a job that meets personal demands and having personal demands that don't interfere with work demands," Connell said. "From an employer's perspective, it means offering jobs and a work environment where employees can meet the needs of their personal lives."
And establishing a good work-life balance can be more important than you realize, Connell said. In fact, a lack of work-life balance, which leads to increased stress in employees, can have a huge impact on both employees and employers, she noted.
"Examples of costs of long-term stress for the employee include more colds and flu due to a compromised immune system, irritability, depression, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, infertility and heart disease, just to name a few," Connell said. "Examples of costs for the employer include absenteeism, turnover, health care insurance and disability, as well as accidents on the job."
Not having a good work-life balance can also contribute to failed relationships, divorce and estrangement from family members, Connell added. Plus, it can affect your performance and cause you to lose your job entirely. [5 Reasons Achieving Work-Life Balance Is Harder Than Ever ]
And if you're a business owner or an important leader, an unhealthy work-life balance can also destroy an otherwise successful company.
"I've seen stressed-out business leaders make bad decisions for their organizations and take the whole organization down," Connell said.
Of course, both life and work can be hectic sometimes, and a little stress now and then is normal. But how do you know when it's gone too far? Take Connell's quiz below to find out if you're living with a healthy work-life balance, or if your job (or your personal life) is taking over. Just answer "true" or "false" to the following questions, and use Connell's scoring guide below to see where you stand.
1. __________ My life and work demands often interfere with each other.
2. __________ Someone else has control over my work schedule.
3. __________ It's a struggle to get time off from work when I need to.
4. __________ I spend a lot of time responding to personal emails and phone calls when I am at work.
5. __________ I don't have time to exercise at least three times a week.
6. __________ I have had to give up most of my hobbies.
7. __________ I sleep less than 8 hours per night on a regular basis.
8. __________ I have frequent headaches and/or stomach aches.
9. __________ I catch myself making mistakes on the job increasingly often.
10. __________ It is important to check my phone and email when I leave work.
11. __________ It is hard to shift my focus of attention to the issue at hand.
12. __________ I find myself worrying a lot about how I'll get everything done.
13. __________ I work more than 40 hours a week.
14. __________ It's hard not to be irritable and lose my temper.
15. __________ I don't have enough time to relax.
16. __________ I frequently have to deal with work emergencies when I am not there.
17. __________ I am tired all the time.
18. __________ My family and friends are routinely upset at me for not being available to them.
19. __________ I am often needed outside of work during work hours.
20. __________ I drink more than 3 cups or shots of caffeinated drinks per day.
If you answered…
Mostly true: You are in serious danger of incurring a stress-related illness or injury, having a major personal problem, or getting fired. You're taking on too much and need to get more support either at work or at home, or both. You need to pay attention to this, because even if you can sustain highly stressful situations for a period of time, over the long term, you could incur irreversible damage to your body, such as a heart attack, hypertension, ulcer, endometriosis or other stress-related conditions.
Equally true and false: You may be at risk of burning the candle at both ends. You might want to examine your commitments, responsibilities and level of control over your life. There may be one or two simple tweaks you can make to ease up on your work/life conflicts, or it might be that a more extensive change is necessary. In either case, you should consider ways to take care of yourself better to maintain your resilience and get through tough times.
Mostly false: You have a good fit for work and life demands. You take care of yourself. You're at low risk of burnout and are a good role model of work-life balance for others.