How To: Create a Healthy Work-Life Balance

In today’s world, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to have a good and healthy work-life balance. And that while it’s so important for our mental health.

We have the constant pressure of our responsibilities at work, and trying to maintain our social lives. In the meantime, we also want to feel fit and energized. And ideally, all of that with a supportive partner by our side with whom we can go on a vacation now and then.

So why is a work-life balance important? And how can you create one? Let’s dive into it!

Two notebooks and a pencil

What is a work-life balance

With topics like this, I always like to start with sharing the definition of the word. The Cambridge Dictionary explains a work-life balance as follows:

the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy

Simply said, it’s just about how you divide your work and your personal life. Regardless of whether this is a healthy or unhealthy balance.

Healthy vs. unhealthy balance

This may sound logical, but the difference between a healthy and unhealthy work-life balance has to do with whether it has a positive or negative influence on your well-being.

What a healthy work-life balance looks like is very personal and can therefore differ greatly per person. This has to do with, among other things, what you as a person get energy from and what costs you energy.

It’s also important that you do the things you want to do. Because even if you have enough free time, if you don’t spend it on the things you enjoy doing, there is no good balance.

So check with yourself if you are happy with the balance between your work and personal life. There are a few questions that can help you evaluate this:

  • Do you feel productive during work hours?
  • Are you looking forward to going to work?
  • Do you still have energy after work?
  • Do you have time available for your loved ones?
  • Do you want to engage in social activities?
  • Do you have time to do the things you want?

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The importance of a healthy work-life balance

You now know what a work-life balance is, but why is it important to create a healthy work-life balance?

By creating and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, you support your overall well-being. This is because you have enough time to recharge from work by doing the things that give you energy and that make you happy.

Some of the most common benefits:

  • Higher productivity
  • Less sensitive to stress
  • Feeling energized
  • Sick less often
  • More motivated for work
  • Less chance of a burnout
  • Better at solving problems
  • More creativity
  • More resilient

Related article: The Power of Self-Care: Prioritize Your Well-Being

Tips to create a healthy work-life balance

A few years ago I was completely lost when it comes to having a work-life balance. I wouldn’t even be surprised if a specialist told me that I was close to a burn-out at the time.

Luckily, I was there just in time. With the help of my friends and a coach, I was able to work on regaining my work-life balance.

Creating a work-life balance is not something that you do once. It’s a process that is constantly evolving. Due to that, I still use the tips I received back then, and hopefully, they can also help you.

  1. Prioritize self-care
  2. Set boundaries
  3. Learn to say no
  4. Build supportive relationships
  5. Communicate openly and ask for help
  6. Set realistic expectations
  7. Create an efficient work routine
  8. Flexibility and adaptability
  9. Engage in continuous learning
  10. Unplug regularly

1. Prioritize self-care

The foundation of a good work-life balance starts with yourself. Make time to do things that energize you, such as sports, meditation, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.

By doing things that energize you and taking time for your self-care, you’ll have more energy and resilience to handle the demands of your career and personal life.

Related article: Create a Self-Care Routine: The Practical Guide

2. Set boundaries

Make sure you set clear boundaries for yourself when you don’t work. In the digital age, it’s very easy to quickly open your laptop and answer that email. But this is precisely how your work-life balance gets disrupted.

Choose fixed working times and make sure that your colleagues and loved ones are aware of this. In this way, they also know when you can be reached.

3. Learn to say no

Just setting boundaries isn’t enough. It’s important that you also maintain this by saying no if someone (or yourself) seems to be crossing your boundaries. But also dare to say no to requests that don’t align with your goals, so that you use your time for the things that give you energy.

4. Build supportive relationships

Surround yourself with people you can always rely on. Both in good times to encourage you and cheer for you, and times to support you when you’re going through a rough time.

In addition to your loved ones, also look at work to see if there are people who can support you. For them it’s also important that you have a healthy work-life balance. In return you can help them with finding and maintaining their balance.

5. Communicate openly and ask for help

In addition to having a great support system, it’s important that you communicate with them. Otherwise, they still don’t know how you are doing and how they can help you. Communicate openly about your needs, limitations, and commitments.

We, women, prefer to do everything ourselves, but the fact is that that’s simply not possible. So dare to ask them for help! This applies not only to your inner circle but also to your colleagues.

6. Set realistic expectations

One way to help you feel less overwhelmed is to set realistic expectations. Both for yourself and others. Perfection is an illusion, and striving for it can only lead to disappointment.

Focus on setting achievable goals that align with your values and priorities, and say no to the other things. Celebrate your accomplishments, big or small, and practice self-compassion.

Related article: 7 Effective Time Management Tips For Your Career

7. Create an efficient work routine

By making your work routine more efficient, you will need less time to do the same and therefore have more time for your personal life. To do this, use time management techniques such as prioritizing tasks, breaking them into smaller, manageable chunks, and allocating time slots for focused work. To increase your productivity even more, you can look at how you can minimize your workplace distractions.

8. Flexibility and adaptability

Look with your manager for ways to get more flexibility in your work. Explore options for remote working or negotiate flexible working arrangements (e.g. working evenings when your partner is on a night shift/kids in bed). Assure them that this won’t have a bad impact on your work performance, and may even benefit it since it will improve your work-life balance.

9. Engage in continuous learning

You are never done learning! Therefore, regularly check which areas you want to develop further, both in your career and as a person.

Look for workshops, courses, or conferences, but also see if you can teach yourself something. With the internet, there are endless possibilities and a lot of free knowledge is offered, for example on YouTube.

Yes, this takes time, but it’s a way to develop yourself further and find out what else energizes you. Maybe you will find something new that you excel at, and that will make your work-life balance even better.

10. Unplug regularly

Disconnecting yourself from work is very important for a good work-life balance. Both not responding to emails and WhatsApp work groups outside working hours, but also using all your paid time off days for a stress-free holiday.

In the Netherlands (and Europe) this might be different than in America and other parts of the world, but vacation days/PTO exist for a reason. Use them! Try to go out regularly during your days off (including weekends). A new environment is good for you.

Related article: How To: Plan a Stress-Free Vacation to Recharge

Achieving a good work-life balance in today’s fast-paced world requires effort and a commitment to self-care, setting boundaries, and communicating. By applying the tips, you can take significant steps towards a sustainable work-life balance that empowers you to thrive in all areas of your life.

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10 responses to “How To: Create a Healthy Work-Life Balance”
  1. Excellent ideas – it’s very important to be able to create a work life balance. Thank you for this informative post.

  2. I love this article and appreciate all of your suggestions. Especially about having boundaries since that is a key step in having work-life balance.

  3. Lovely share, I think women are more affected with work-life balance than men(my opinion)you work, run errands for kids, arrange birthday parties, family get togethers and what not and your boss still expect you to give 100%.
    It gets hard and we find that we`ve mixed work and life into one without clear boundaries.Brilliant share, thanks so much for your insights

  4. This is how life needs to be lived!

  5. This is amazing.. and funny how I was thinking about finding how to get this balance all day since yesterday. Only to stumble upon this.

    Kelp up the good work !

  6. Courtney Jensen

    I enjoyed reading this to remind me to keep myself balanced.

  7. This is such a great article. I will share it with my colleagues as we start back to school.

    1. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that!

  8. Stephanie

    This article helped me put my thoughts in order – I think I make my own issues when it comes to balancing work and life. I do need to start asking for help and setting more realistic expectations for myself. And most importantly, take a bit of time each day for self-care!

    1. Happy to hear that this already helped you! Asking for help can be difficult (and also a bit scary) at the beginning, but in the end everyone is always very helpful to others.

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