Balancing your professional life with your personal life can be difficult, especially in today's digital world. Many employers expect their workers to be available at all times, emailing, calling or messaging them during off hours.
While it's nice to connect with your work contacts from anywhere at any time, it shouldn't take time away from family, friends or yourself. In fact, not having clear boundaries between work and your personal life can lead to burnout, hindering your hard work and limiting your energy and passion. That's why maintaining a healthy work-life balance is critical to success and satisfaction.
According to Dr. Joanie Connell, psychologist and founder of Flexible Work Solutions, work-life balance happens when a person manages responsibilities from both work and life in a healthy, productive way.
"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," she said.
Connell added that lacking this balance as an employee can lead to health issues like colds and flu due to a compromised immune system, irritability, depression, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, infertility and heart disease. It can also contribute to failed relationships, divorce and estrangement from family members.
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 to find out if you're living with a healthy work-life balance or if your job (or your personal life) is taking over.
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 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. Act now; 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. Examine your commitments, responsibilities and level of control over your life. There may be one or two simple tweaks you can make to reduce work/life conflicts, or it might be that a more extensive change is necessary. In either case, 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.
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.