7 Tips to Help You Achieve Work Life Balance

7 Tips to Help You Achieve Work Life Balance

Joe Martin 28/11/2019 5

It's hard to believe but the holiday season is just around the corner! Before you know it, you'll be cutting the turkey and wrapping gifts to place under the tree. The holidays are a wonderful time of year but if you're like most people, you struggle to unplug from work during them.Don't worry; we're here to help!In this article, we'll show you why unplugging is so essential and how to mentally disconnect from work while you're outside the office. Ready? Let's get started!

The Importance of Unplugging From Work

Before we teach you how to mentally disconnect from work, let's talk about why you should. There are three main reasons: burnout is real and dangerous and a holiday vacation can help guard against it, you'll become more productive once you've had time to recharge, and you'll learn how to be more present which will make you happier and more content in your work.

Let's take a quick minute to look at each of these reasons in more detail:

1. Burnout is Real and Dangerous

According to Help Guide, burnout is "a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress."

Burnout is very common in the workplace. In fact, a Deloitte survey found that 77% of people have experienced burnout in their current job. Over half of those people have experienced it more than once. This isn't all that surprising when you realize that 768 million vacation days went unused last year in the United States alone!

Modern professionals are working harder than ever before, but not taking any time to regroup and recharge, which leads to burnout.

Burnout is both dangerous for the people experiencing it and costly for the organizations they work for. Burnt out workers are less productive, lower team morale, and are more likely to quit. 

Fortunately, taking time off to achieve the proper work-life balance can help you beat burnout before it ever rears its ugly head!

2. Your Productivity Will Increase

As counterintuitive as it sounds, taking time off from work — like, really taking time off — will help you become more productive. Why? There are a couple of reasons:

  • You'll be Refreshed When You Get Back to the Office: Vacations are relaxing and leave us feeling more energetic and less stressed. This, in turn, allows us to better focus on work-related tasks when we get back to the office. Disengaging from work-related activities has also been proven to make us more resilient in the face of adversity.
  • Changes of Pace Boost Creativity: Vacation time can also make you more creative, which will lead to you getting more done in less time. Not only will time outside the office allow you to explore new interests, it will also give you the chance to experience new people, cultures, and things. When you get back to work, you can use these experiences to fuel your creative fire.

3. You'll Learn How to be More Present

Lastly, when you unplug from work, you'll be able to become more present. Presence often leads to greater enjoyment, which results in more contentment and satisfaction. And when you're content in your job and life, you'll be a better employee, friend, family member, etc.

Think about it: a holiday trip without the constant stresses of the office — whether you go to some exotic location or Mom's house for Christmas dinner — will allow you to think about and appreciate the blessings you have in a real way. This is valuable.

How to Mentally Disconnect From Work This Holiday Season

Part of achieving a healthy work-life balance is allowing yourself to take a much-deserved vacation. And what better time to vacation than during the holidays? But if the thought of spending a week or two away from the office makes you break out in a cold sweat, don't worry.

The following seven ideas and strategies will help you make the most of your time off and get recharged for 2020.

1. Be Realistic

First things first, you need to be realistic about your time off. Not everyone has the luxury of completely disconnecting during the holiday season.

If you absolutely have to check email on a regular basis so that the office doesn't explode into metaphorical flames while you're gone, do it. Just make sure that it's actually necessary and you aren't inventing reasons to keep working because you're afraid to unplug from work.

It's also important that you relay your real intentions to your friends and family or whomever you'll be spending your time off with. If they don't understand that you'll be checking in with the office each morning, they may become agitated, which will cause you stress. No Bueno.

2. Plan Ahead

The next thing you can do to mentally disconnect from work this holiday season it to plan ahead. If you know that you'll be out of the office from December 21st to January 6th, you can do a few things to prepare and make your time away more manageable for the rest of your team.

  • First, you can let everyone at your company know the exact dates that you'll be gone. We suggest doing this as far in advance as possible. That way no one is caught off guard and can blame you for any work-related incidents while you're vacationing.
  • Second, establish a new contact for your company to communicate with during your absence. Fill this person (or persons) in on what you have going on and give them the tools they'll need to adequately cover for you. You'll also want to inform others, both internal team members and outside vendors and clients, of the temporary change.
  • Third, craft an effective "out of office" message that can be automated to send whenever someone emails you during your holiday break. Your message should clearly indicate the dates you'll be gone and whom to contact instead while you're away.
  • And fourth, leave your team with emergency contact details. That way they can reach you if necessary. But be sure to specify what an emergency is. You don't want to be contacted every time the office coffee bar runs out of creamer.

If you plan ahead in these four ways, you'll make it much easier on your team and yourself while you're relaxing during the holidays.

3. Work Ahead

Planning ahead is great. Planning and working ahead is even better! The more you can get done before your holiday vacation, the less work-related stress you'll have during it.

So do your best to reach inbox zero before leaving for an extended period of time. We also recommend wrapping up any lingering projects, ordering any products you'll need in the new year, or balancing company books if applicable.

Whatever you can do ahead of time, do it. That way your vacation can be all about recharging and enjoyment, not worrying about the projects you need to complete when you get back.

4. Plan Your Time Off

Not everyone is a planner. For some people, the ultimate vacation is a new city and an empty schedule so that they can wander and explore without restraint. For others, a blank slate is stressful and peak relaxation can't be reached until each minute of their time away is mapped and accounted for.

Whichever personality type you happen to have, we suggest at least a minimal amount of planning. For example, your plan could be as simple as, "I'm going to Hawaii from December 23rd to January 2nd and I plan to hike trails, swim in the ocean, read on the beach, and whatever else I feel like in the moment."

This plan leaves a lot of room for improvisation but still specifies the dates of the trip and a few general activities the vacationer hopes to experience.

We suggest planning your holiday vacation to some extent because it will help you focus on your trip and not on work. After all, if work isn't in the plan, you'll be less likely to think about it and even less likely to do it.

5. Disable Work-Related Notifications

The easiest way to get sucked into work-related activities is to not turn off work-related notifications. Our smartphones are incredibly handy tools. They can also be destructive to time off and all but ruin the healthy work-life balance you're chasing.

So do yourself a favor and log out of your work email while on your holiday break. Try not to check social media either. In fact, the more technology you're willing to give up, the more likely you'll be to have a truly relaxing vacation.

6. Plan Your Return

One of the reasons people fail to take time off and overwork themselves is because the thought of returning to the office with a mountain of tasks to do is just too overwhelming. You can help combat this by working ahead, which we mentioned earlier. But you can also do yourself a favor by planning your return. That way you know exactly what to expect when you get back.

For example, before you shut things down for the holidays, you could block out a couple of hours to respond to emails on your first day back in the office. You could also schedule a time to connect with colleagues and get updated on anything you missed.

Can you see how planning your return can be beneficial and help you disconnect from work at home or while you're traipsing around the world on that vacation you always promised to take your family on?

As we've seen multiple times in this article, a little bit of planning goes a long way!

7. Commit to Unplugging

Finally, to really unplug from work this holiday season — or anytime, really — you have to commit to it. The office and its stresses will always be there, pulling you back in. To achieve a proper work-life balance, avoid burnout, and boost productivity, you need to decide, here and now, that your time off is important and that you won't let work interrupt it.

Once you commit, actually following through and disconnecting from everything office related becomes much easier.

In Conclusion

As we've seen, a vacation and a chance to unplug from work is valuable. We hope you take some time off this holiday season to strive for a healthy work-life balance. If you do, just remember our seven tips to help you make the most of your time away:

  1. Be Realistic
  2. Plan Ahead
  3. Work Ahead
  4. Plan Your Time Off
  5. Disable Work-Related Notifications
  6. Plan Your Return
  7. Commit to Unplugging

If you can do those seven things, you'll have an amazing holiday break and come back refreshed and ready to crush it in 2020. Good luck!

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  • Nicole Bell

    Tomorrow marks the start of the busiest time of the year.

  • Kevin Hyatt

    Finding an appropriate balance between work and personal life seems to be challenging.

  • Joanne Williams

    I turn off my phone during holidays

  • Scott Hannis

    Regardless of what we do for a living, it all comes down to enriching our lives with more social interactions.

  • Claire Tolson

    Thanks for the tips.

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Joe Martin

Tech Expert

Joe is VP of Corporate and Demand Marketing at Zight. He also served as the CMO of Stockchain Global and Advisory Board Member at Ylixr. He has over 15 years experience managing various areas of marketing including research, media buying, social, and overall strategy. His analyses have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, and Forbes. Joe holds a BSc in Finance and MBA in Strategy & Marketing from the University of Utah. He also has an Executive Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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