Work / Life Balance

Image of male in a suit riding a bike. Work-life balance is a term used to describe the balance between workplace obligations and personal responsibilities. 

Maintaining work-life balance can be challenging especially in your first year of professional work. You may be putting in extra hours to learn and subsequently master the skills required by your new employer. 

You may have work-life imbalance if you are...

  • Working late, at night or on weekends, on your own time

  • Taking your laptop home

  • Checking your work email frequently from home

  • Taking work with you or checking your company email while you're on holiday

  • Not taking breaks or lunch throughout your work day

  • Feeling disconnected from life outside of work

  • Having difficulty sleeping because your mind is pre-occupied with work matters

  • Having difficulty relaxing and letting go of thoughts of work

  • Feeling isolated, emotionally unavailable for friends and family outside of work

  • Feeling as though there’s not enough time in a day, that you’ll never complete your to-do list

If you feel as though you're struggling with balancing work and personal demands, take this work-life balance quiz by the Canadian Mental Health Association

What Can You Do?

Here are a few action steps you can start today to alleviate some of your stress...

  • Don't overbook - You have a lot to do in your day...yes...and because of this you might be trying to cram work into every moment of your day. The problem is that  things rarely go as planned. You will need time for the unexpected in your day, so build in this buffer in your calendar.

  • Prioritize ruthlessly - Know what's important (to do right away) and what can wait.  Ask questions to assess the level of urgency of your response. Negotiate longer lead times on projects and don't give in to a reactive way of working. Treating everything as high priority is draining. Develop criteria for evaluating how to respond to requests.

  • Learn how to say no - You don't have to say yes to EVERYTHING.  You can't do it ALL, it's simply not realistic.

  • Organize - Examine the mechanics of how you operate to see where you can save time and function more efficiently.  

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day - Your productivity and effectiveness will increase if you take even a ten-minute break every two hours and overall, you will get more accomplished.

  • At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day - Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available.

  • Only respond to email once or twice a day - Yes...this one's hard. Then, shut off your email program to avoid being distracted as messages come in.

  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life - Protect your private time by turning off electronic communications (or at least notifications).  Don’t be available 24/7.

  • Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early - As soon as you see that a deadline is unrealistic, communicate your concern to your employer - don’t wait until the deadline passes.

  • Take all of your allotted vacation time - Taking vacation allows you to come back to work refreshed and more productive.

  • Create a buffer between work and home - After work, take a brief walk, read your favourite magazine or play some street hockey before beginning the evening’s routine.