Don’t give up on work life balance

Trends around technology and self-care are changing the default approach to work-life balance. Here’s how to take advantage.



Work-life balance is so elusive that some commentators are actually starting to suggest we abandon our pursuit of it. They point to studies claiming that a person’s work-life balance only changes for the better when their bosses want it to. They say it’s simply too hard for one person to re-shape an entire office’s culture – so why even try?


Well, dear reader, this article is for those of us who are not so easily defeated.


Work-life balance means having the motivation, time, and resources to do well both at work and in your personal life. Some people aim to be equally work- and personally-focused, while others find that emphasizing one or the other actually helps them achieve equilibrium.


While it may be true that company culture starts at the top, the idea that we need our boss’ permission to happiness-hack our lives is so disempowering, it’s almost insulting. Because real talk: we’re not victims. When we feel a work-life imbalance, it has a lot (though not everything) to do with the choices we make and the habits we’ve formed. That’s the “bad” news. The good news is that we can form new, better habits. And, chances are, make some new and different choices.


"The idea that we need our boss’ permission to happiness-hack our lives is so disempowering, it’s almost insulting."

Why does work-life balance matter?

Burnout is real and does real damage to workers and the people close to them. It can be caused both by overwork and by heavy burdens at home, but most often, it’s work. People who work more than 48 hours each week have been shown to experience significantly more anxiety and depressive episodes than people who work 47 or fewer hours. Think about the ripple-effects of that: a tense home environment, low morale at work, missed swim meets. Not to mention the negative effects of stress on sleep and physical health.


Thankfully, employers are realizing that a sustainable work-life balance is actually good for business. Bottom line? When you’re stretched too thin, you’re not as effective at work. By contrast, a healthy work-life balance has been shown to reduce absenteeism and improves employee engagement. This means that if you ask your boss for a more flexible schedule or an extension on a deadline in order to avoid burnout, they’ll probably be open to discussing it at the very least. Given the current low unemployment rates that are making employers compete ever-harder for talent, promoting work-life balance is even starting to factor into recruiting strategies.

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