What is work-life balance, and why is it important?

  • Well-being
  • By Aleks Szymanski
  • Published on February 16

Is work starting to creep into your personal life? Maybe you’re responding to emails late at night or fielding calls on your day off. Work-life balance can be tough, but it’s vital for your health and well-being. If work is taking over your life, perhaps it’s time for a change. You deserve time for yourself and the people you care about outside of work, so take control and start feeling less stressed - and more energized.

Achieving work-life balance

Work-life balance may require some adjustments, but the rewards of reduced stress, higher satisfaction, and better health and relationships make it worth the effort. Finding the right balance can result in greater harmony and happiness in your life overall. 

Some things you can do to improve your work-life balance include:

Set boundaries

The key to work-life balance is setting clear boundaries between work commitments and life responsibilities. You need to ‘switch off’ from work when you’re not on the clock. Set rules for yourself, such as not checking emails outside of office hours or not taking work calls at night or during weekends. Learning to say “no” at work when needed will prevent you from being overloaded with tasks that spill into your personal time.

Pursue your interests

Focus on activities outside of work. Make time for hobbies, socializing, and exercising. Participate in things you’re passionate about, like a favorite sport, art project, or community service. A full and meaningful personal life will contribute to making you a happier, healthier, and more productive employee.

Take time to recharge

It’s important to avoid burnout, so be sure to take all the paid time off and sick days you’re entitled to. Go on vacations when possible, even if they’re just short trips. Practice self-care by exercising and spending time with loved ones, plus get enough sleep every night so you’ve enough energy for both your work and home life.

Reaping the rewards of work-life balance

Achieving a healthy balance between your work and personal life significantly benefits both your physical and mental well-being. When your work and home lives are in harmony, you’ll experience:

Better focus and productivity

By making more time for life outside the office, you’ll return to work feeling more motivated and focused. Your mind will feel less cluttered, allowing you to fully concentrate on important tasks. Plus, you’ll be more creative as new ideas and insights emerge following periods of rest.

Stronger relationships

Work-life balance provides more time for you to nurture close relationships. This includes spending quality time with family and friends, who can provide social support - in turn contributing to greater happiness, well-being, and life satisfaction.

Improved health

Too much work and not enough play (or rest) can affect your health. Good work-life balance reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other stress-related illnesses. In fact, you’ll have even more time for exercise, sleep, and preparing healthy meals. Both your physical and mental health will improve, allowing you to take on any challenges at work or home with greater ease and enjoyment.

How employers can help

Employers should promote self-care and work-life balance by discouraging excessive overtime (including not sending emails after work hours) and ensuring people take all their paid time off. Even little things like offering healthy snacks, walking meetings, and mindfulness breaks can help reduce stress and boost well-being.

Work-life balance is all about finding the ‘sweet spot’ where you feel professionally and personally fulfilled. This will be different for everyone, so take some time to reflect on what really matters to you. Don’t be afraid to speak up if your workload is getting out of hand or if you need more flexibility. Also, don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries or saying no to things that don’t serve you. With some trial and error, you’ll find the right rhythm - and enjoy a rich, meaningful life both inside and outside the office.