When hard workers are pushed to the point of exhaustion, it’s only a matter of time before burnout sets in. That’s the reality for many tech professionals who all too commonly work 52 hour work weeks to achieve aggressive deadlines and live up to workaholic cultures. In fact, in a survey asking over 21,000 engineers about the value they prioritize most when searching for jobs, the overwhelming response was work life balance. The good news is that if you are feeling overworked, following these strategies can help regain that balance.
1.) Define Your Own Balance
Before you can establish work life balance, you need to determine what that balance means to you. It’s not going to be a 50/50 split. Work, family, friends, hobbies, community service, and other time commitments receive different priorities by different people. What matters is that you feel each is given proper attention in your schedule. Here are a few ways to figure your priorities out:
- Test Your Burnout Levels – How out of balance is your life? Business News Daily provides a test that digs into the various factors that make up work life balance, helping tech professionals to find out if they are burning the candle at both ends (and prone to faster burnout) or have found their life equilibrium.
- Think Beyond Work and Relationships – When ranking priorities, we’re compelled to give work and relationships precedence, making it harder to spot other areas out of balance. To find the other important aspects of your life, create a quadrant with what’s most important to you – but leave work and relationships out. These four responses are just as important to the balance and need their fair share of your schedule.
2.) Set Limits for Working after Hours
As a Journal of Occupational Health Psychology study put it, “psychological detachment from work during non-work time is important for employee recovery and health.” Technology has become our tether to our jobs, making access to emails and projects after hours effortless. How can you recharge when notifications from your phone keep pulling you back into the fray?
The simple answer is to unplug. Whether it’s turning off work notifications or shutting down your phone completely, you’ll feel more focused, satisfied, and relaxed by creating a barrier between your work and free time. Like any goal, your success will likely happen through baby steps. At first, that might mean unplugging for an hour before bed. But with a little practice, you’ll be able to justify ignoring work notifications the moment you’re off the clock.
3.) Lessen Time-Wasting Activities
Sometimes, the key to balancing work and the rest of your life depends on improving your efficiency on-the-job. Inc. reports that the average worker only puts in three productive hours a day. The rest is spent reading news websites, checking social media, chatting with coworkers, and participating in other non-work activities.
How do you regain control over that lost time? Here are a few key ways to be more productive on the job:
- Find Your Productivity Sweet Spot – We’re all productive at different times of the day. Schedule your most challenging work at your productive peak in the morning, midday, or afternoon. And when you’re more prone to distraction, choose work that’s less demanding.
- Stop Trying to Multitask – Ignore the impulse to juggle tasks. It’s not doing you any favors. Multitasking has been found to limit visual awareness, divide attention, and even hurt your job satisfaction. Focus on one task at a time, or you’ll fall short on everything you’re balancing.
4.) Stop Shooting for Perfection
Frequently, projects disrupt work life balance because we’re just being too inflexible. Perfectionism holds your projects to unrealistic standards, slowing down progress for the sake of gold plating work that’s already effective. Counteracting years of a perfectionist mindset takes time, but here are some impactful steps:
- Recognize the Signs – Awareness is always the first step. If perfectionism is your issue, regularly check to make sure you’re not getting bogged down in the details or obsessing over an insignificant part of the project.
- Focus on Taking Action – Perfectionism often leads to inaction as you wait for the stars to align and the moment to feel right. The reality is that there is no perfect moment. Taking action now and improving along the way is always more productive than waiting to be in the groove.
5.) Make Use of Your Network
People who understand how to balance work and life recognize that nobody is an island. Most of life’s major achievements depend upon the help of others. Even when you are leading the charge, you need a supportive network of friends, family, and peers to make it into the end zone. Work life balance is no different.
Because work life balance is a dynamic, never-set-in-stone idea, there should be an ebb and flow of who is giving you support. At times, that means asking your coworkers for help with a time-consuming project, or asking your spouse to pick up the kids when you are in crunch mode. Whoever you ask for help, it’s important that a relationship exists where there is give and take on both sides. That way, you always have a team of people willing to be your safety net.
6.) Find the Right Job
Does your work life balance still feels off? Maybe you’re in the wrong job. Ask yourself:
- After you’ve improved your productivity, do you still feel like the work is never ending?
- Does your company discourage time off?
- Is your boss unsympathetic when emergencies come up (sick kids, death in the family, etc.)?
If so, it might be time to quit your job.
Though we know searching for a new job can put a further strain on your work life balance, working with IT recruiters can help you keep the equilibrium. Our recruiters work to understand your short and long term goals, find jobs that fit you, and build relationships that last from your first position with us onward.