Work-life balance. Burnout. Both are concepts that we all try and achieve, some successfully, others not so, but it’s an issue with growing importance in the 21st century. As the traditional family settings change we are moving into different working patterns. This creates new, unfamiliar problems in balancing work and life and it suddenly takes on more importance.
Our work patterns have changed significantly in the last decade. More recently, since the rise of COVID-19, working from home, flexible working between home and office and family duties have caused an even bigger shift and daily tasks and activities are changing into a much more flexible and unpredictable setting.
Why do we have a poor work-life balance?
As adults, and as especially as men, we are expected to have a family and invest quality time to support a healthy family life and environment. At the same time we are expected to maintain a demanding, sometimes highly pressured career with long hours so we can support our family financially.
When both partners work every day, the mental cost of making necessary adjustments and compromises in terms of work is very important. In most cases the biggest compromise is claiming your free, quality time that you want to devote to family life, e.g., missing the odd school assembly, working on the weekend, not getting home until the children are in bed, etc.
When you’re having a bad month, it’s usually something at home that’s needed more of your attention than normal. This means you may create a backlog at work. When you finally confront the backlog, you find you have to get it done in a shorter time frame, which means working nights and spending every waking minute trying to close the gap.
This long-term stressful situation, and poor work-life balance usually results in ‘burnout’
What is burnout?
If you have ever felt hopeless, powerless, cynical or unsuccessful, you could have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is physical or emotional exhaustion. It generally happens when your body and mind experience a lot of long-term stress from working too hard, feeling unappreciated, concerns about job security, confusion about expectations and priorities, etc.
If you experience burnout you may get very sad or angry and lose interest and motivation, which can lead to unhappiness and depression. Severe burnout may ultimately threaten your health, your job and your relationships with family and colleagues.
6 easy ways to cope with burnout
We all know that families sometime have to deal with extraordinary situations when things don’t go as planned. However, a healthy work-life balance will decrease your risk of burnout and provide a mental safety net for anyone juggling a demanding job and a busy family life.
But if you find yourself ‘a bit frazzled’, what can you do to help yourself?
Here are six easy things you can do:
Take care of your body
It’s no surprise this is top of the list. As with most things, taking care of your physical health by eating healthily, sleeping well and exercising will all help. It’s also a good idea to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing burnout.
Do your favourite things
Book time in your schedule each day, or take 24 hours for yourself each week or month to completely switch off and do something for you. This could be something as simple as having an undisturbed soak in the bath, or reading a book and doing your hobby.
This ‘time off’ will help you recharge your batteries after going through a difficult period, and it should be something that you continue to help avoid future burnouts.
Find someone you can talk to who will listen and understand you, but won’t be judgmental.
Talking with others like this is healthy communication and will help you work through your emotions in a healthy and productive way.
Set realistic targets
Setting goals and targets in your life helps give you a sense of purpose.
These goals and targets should, as always, be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based). They should also be divided into short and long-term goals and ideally you should try and create a plan for achieving them.
Enhance your relationships
Getting closer to your partner, children, friends and other people you know you can count on will help to restore your energy and make you feel more appreciated.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses
When we understand our strengths and weaknesses we can find ways to help ourselves deal with everyday stresses.
How to improve your work-life balance and reduce your risk of burnout
At the end of the day work-life balance is all about managing the time you have with the things you need to do.
The two key elements in achieving a healthy work-life balance are prioritising and delegating.
Prioritising is the first step to a better work-life balance because it starts you on the journey of understanding your daily activities limit.
The start is with you simply understanding that there are too many things on your ‘to do’ list and that you cannot fit all of them into one day or one week.
A healthy work-life balance is all about balancing work and family and prioritising draws a clear picture. In the beginning, it may not be a nice picture as it reveals the things you’ve given up by prioritising other things. However, as you begin to prioritse better, you should see a gradual shift as your work-life balance skills improve.
Sometimes it’s difficult to let go and give control to others. However, delegating work is an essential work-life balance tool. It’s something you can use to deal with growing tasks and you not having enough time to manage everything.
Time management is the same as task management and both are the basics of work-life management.
In your daily routine, everyone can do a little something to help out, from delegating tasks around the home to other family members to delegating simple tasks at work.
All of this will significantly help improve your work-life balance.
A healthy work-life balance is simply about setting limits and truly understanding how much each and every detail in your daily routine is important to you and your goals.
If you think unplanned days can pass quickly, the planned ones can move just as quickly. At the end of a planned day you will feel more satisfied and know what you did.
Every successful manager will tell you that you have enough time to do everything you want. But that the biggest challenge is understanding the time you have available, prioritising and knowing what it is that you want to do in your day.
If you can go to bed at night with the realisation that you have done 90 percent of what you planned to do and that your day had the structure of the work and family activities you wanted, you will feel great, and it might even make you sleep better.
Now we want to hear from you
Have you experienced burnout?
Are you in a stressful job that leaves you with precious little time for quality family life or exercise? Or have you achieved a good work-life balance?
Let us know in the comments below.
If you’re stressed or burnt out, and want to improve your physical fitness, why not give Combat Arts a try? We specialise in 1-2-1 personal training for executives at a time and place convenient for you, both online and face-to-face. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs today.