“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life!”
If one of the strongest and most talked about female politicians of the world says these words, it is time to sit up and take notice. Time and again, glossy magazines and lifestyle sites put out unrealistic images of superwomen. From managing a home to taking care of their family to being an over-achiever at work and looking like a million bucks while at it, women seem to do it all! Unfortunately, what these magazines don’t give are the all important work-life balance tips.
These days, women from all racial backgrounds are active in the workforce. However, traditional expectations regarding home and hearth still remain. The result is that across cultures, women face the same issue – how to work professionally while taking care of self and the family. When balancing career and family becomes next to impossible, the inevitable fallout is stress and burnout.
Single women don’t have it easy either. As Brinda Bose, a yoga instructor complains, “People often think just because I am single, I don’t have any stress and can devote all my hours to work. But in order to prove, I can succeed without the support of a man or family, I end up overworking myself.”
“The work-life balance tips to the other end of the scale where I have success in my professional life but have absolutely no time for personal life,” she continues. No woman (or man) can have it all, but the question to be asked is: Is all the work and success in professional life worth it?
Why Work-Life Balance Is Important?
While work is important to give you a sense of identity, the personal side needs to be nourished too. Without proper work-life balance tips, women often bear the maximum brunt of pressures from all fronts. The coronavirus induced work-from-home scenario has added to the misery as the lines between office and home gets increasingly blurred, adding to stress levels.
A study by Jill Perry-Smith and Terry Blum in the Academy of Management Journal, analyzed performance at 527 US companies and found that firms with a wider range of work-life practices had greater performance, profit sales growth and organizational performance. Yet organizations across the world rarely pay attention to this aspect of life.
Fact is that life is not all work or all family or all home. What you need are simple work-life balance tips that will help you lead a far more fulfilling and enriching life than one where the scales are tipped heavily in only one direction.
21 Tips For A Better Work-Life Balance For Women – 2021
Maintaining a work-life balance is all about separating your personal and professional lives. Learn how to not let work control your life, maintain proper boundaries for yourself and others, and ensure the most important areas of your life are not neglected at the altar of another. You need to practice self-love.
As Michele Obama said, “Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do list’.”
We asked Delna Anand, life coach, NLP practitioner and mother of two kids for some basic life hacks for work-life balance. Here are some of her handy tips.
1. List out what is work-life balance example
Fix your calendar to get the best work-life balance tips. List out everything you do in a day. How many hours you are spending at work, what do you do for leisure, how much time do you spend procrastinating and how much sleep do you get? The key to improve your work-life balance lies in these numbers!
2. Learn to say no
The core of the work-life balance psychology lies in your ability to say NO, loud and clear. Too much work means you are taking on more than what you can handle.
And you do that because you can’t or do not want to refuse your boss or colleague or family for fear of displeasing them. Avoid the tendency to agree to whatever comes your way.
Related Reading: 12 tips to cope when dating a workaholic
3. Do not aim for perfection
Be realistic. Most women tend to take on things way beyond their capacity. Perfectionism is really an unattainable myth and trying to be perfect in everything you do is the start of a very toxic relationship with yourself.
So change the way you perceive things. “Focus on doing the task at hand in the best possible way that you can instead,” says Delna.
4. Do not try to multitask
Multitasking does not really enhance your productivity. Multitasking seems like a great way to get a lot done all at once. So you may pride at your ability to cook while helping your kids with your homework and taking a work call.
But our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we’d like to think. So instead of trying to juggle a whole lot at one time, focus on one task at a time, do it to your best and then move to the next.
5. Urgent vs important – learn the difference
One of the best work life balance tips anyone can give you is to learn to differentiate between what is urgent and what is important. We end up doing many things which seem urgent and needs our attention right now!
But in the process, forget to actually do what is important to us. For example, finishing a project is urgent but taking time out for meditation is important. Do not neglect the latter for the former.
6. Plan and prioritize
The more you grow in your career or the more your responsibilities at home increase, the better planner you need to be. Whether it is your work or personal life, always plan ahead of time and prioritize what is important.
Our to-do list is often never-ending so you need to make sure that you don’t end up missing the important tasks because you failed to schedule them properly.
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make an impact, learn to delegate,” said John C Maxwell, American author. Some tasks can be done only by you. Fair enough, pay attention to them.
But for others, try and train someone to take over from you. The time you invest in training will be worth it. Do not assume all responsibilities of a task yourself. Let others be responsible too.
8. Take time out to recharge
If not every day at least once or twice a week, take time out for yourself to recharge, recover and refresh. We have so much to process in our busy lives that we rarely stop to fully process what we are feeling.
And that is why, a little down time is a must. You can’t pour from an empty cup so keep replenishing yourself – in the way you want to.
9. Focus on your strengths
Organizations these days are brutal. They expect their employees to be all-in-one. And in their eagerness to prove their worth, people often tend to stretch themselves. Learning new skills is always good but excelling in every department is impossible.
Instead, play to your strengths. So if you are a writer but hate designing try and outsource the designing part and be the best at writing.
Related Reading: A Promotion Almost Wrecked My Marriage But We Survived
10. Take frequent breaks
“I have a simple principle. I take a 10 minute break after every three hours. I will do anything I want during those 10 minutes – listen to music, read a poem or just walk outside the terrace. My team is not allowed to disturb me,” says Rashmi Chittal, a hotelier.
Taking short breaks during work, helps to get back into the rigmarole. Just make sure, these breaks are not unhealthy – i.e. cigarette breaks or coffee breaks. You might feel refreshed but your health will suffer.
11. Take time out for health
Grabbing a sandwich on the way to office, surviving on coffee, forgetting to eat lunch or dinner because you were too busy… Does this all sound way too familiar? If yes, you are not proving how sincere you are at work.
You are merely showing how insincere you are about your health. Learn to balance work and health, and this includes mental health too. It’s all that matters in the end.
12. Adjust to the new normal
The work-from-home (WFH) reality thrust by the pandemic has resulted in increased stress as people often continue working for late hours since home has become your office space.
Work from home work-life balance tips need a special devoted chapter as life has been upended because of this new routine. Treat WFH as working from office. That is, take breaks, treat your work hours as office hours and then switch off – even if you are at home.
13. Devote some time to your hobby
Very few people are lucky to be able to do what they love. But even if your work does not allow you time for hobbies, you can always devote one hour a day to something that gives you joy.
It could be gardening or reading or even Netflixing – if it brings you happiness and takes your mind off stressful situations, make time for it.
Relate Reading: How To Be A Happy Woman? We Tell You 10 Ways!
14. Write your to-do list
One of the best work-life balance tips is to make a to-do list. Write down everything, the smallest tasks to the biggest responsibilities. So be it drinking eight glasses of water or completing your presentation, write down everything you need to do.
Keep ticking it along as you finish each task. It not just gives a sense of achievement but also keeps you motivated.
We can’t emphasize the importance of exercise enough. It could be just a 30-minute brisk walk with yourself in the morning or evening. Try Yoga.
Let the family wait for their breakfast. Keep your emails away for that time. Do not think of anything else except yourself, just for that short period in a day. It should be one of the must-dos in your to-do list.
16. De-clutter your work area
Keeping your work station clean and de-cluttered can actually make a difference to your mood. If you have piles of paper and diaries, pens, stationery etc lying carelessly, you may tend to get overwhelmed.
A neat desk is a sign of efficiency so spend a few minutes to clean up the mess. Also invest in ergonomic chairs and good lighting.
17. Do not neglect your beauty regimen
Work-life balance tips need to put this point right at the top for women as “me-time” also includes pampering your body.
Take a few hours off on a weekly holiday to spend at the salon, indulge in some nice beauty treatments and cleanse yourself of all the toxins with a nice massage. It may or may not lower your mental stress but at least you will like what you see in the mirror!
18. Go for staycations
Your job or your lifestyle may not allow you the luxury of long vacations. That’s why staycations can come to the rescue. It would be best if you can plan your breaks and apply for your leave well in advance.
Make use of extended weekends for short trips around town. Just a two-three day break can do wonders to your mood.
19. Practise switching off
When you are at work, just focus on work. When you are home, give your genuine attention to your family or kids. Thinking about an unattended email or making mental conversations with your colleagues while you are at the dinner table will leave no one happy.
It may take a little practice but the ability to switch off is one of the keys to finding an ideal work-life balance.
20. Learn to use technology well
The biggest lesson the pandemic has taught us is that we can work and exist in the virtual world. You need not be super tech-savvy but apps exist for a reason – to make work easy. So try and fix meetings over zoom and Microsoft teams to save time and effort.
Many people say the digital world requires us to be connected throughout the day but it can also make work far more efficient.
21. Wake up early
Yes it’s that simple. Having a fixed routine, in which waking up a little early figures on your agenda, can prove to be very effective when it comes to creating a work-life balance. Early mornings help in increased productivity.
And try to keep the first couple of hours of waking up for yourself, doing things needed for your soul – exercising, meditation, a cup of coffee or chat with your partner and so on.
Ultimately the best work-life balance tips anybody can give you is to be a bit selfish and put your interests first. You cannot provide for others if you are depleted of energy and purpose. Invest in yourself, your mind and your body to not just be the best version of yourself but be the real superwomen at your work and your home.
Poor work-life balance refers to a situation when you do not have enough time for either work or your family. When the stress of one affects the other, you experience burnout and lack of productivity.
Taking on too much work, not being able to delegate well, being unable to please everyone or doing justice to all the tasks on hand affects work/life balance.
A balanced life is one where you have enough time for your personal needs, can take frequent breaks, find time to indulge in hobbies and be present for both, your work and your family.
I am now the stay-at-home dad and my wife the breadwinner; and we are making it work