Maintaining Work and Life Balance in 2024

A great personal goal for the year ahead is to prioritize maintaining your work-life balance. Most of us will likely admit that the “life” part of the balance needs more prioritization because after working an 8-hour day and a full week of work, we are tired and struggle with prioritizing personal needs. 

When the weekend rolls around, Business Insider reports, “most people aren’t feeling refreshed or rested after their days off.” People often spend their spare time watching TV, scrolling social media, or relaxing at home, thinking it will help them decompress from responsibilities. As time-management coach Alexis Haselberger says, “it does [help] in the moment, but then it doesn’t. And then we’re scrambling to do all of the things.” 

Does any of this sound familiar? 

Haselberger reports, “a lot of her clients struggle with relaxation and putting work down.” But just like in our diets, to stay healthy and energized for the long haul, people need variety. We tend to fall into a trap of believing we can be productive all the time, however, that is hard, if not impossible, for many individuals to achieve. 

What is work-life balance exactly? 

As an Australian government blog healthdirect explains, “work-life balance is about finding a way to manage the demands of your work or study with your personal life and the things that top you up. 

A good work-life balance means you have harmony (most of the time) between the different aspects of your life. Outside of work you will have time to spend on other things, such as caring for yourself and your family, and leisure activities.” 

So how does one realistically achieve work-life balance? 

In a perfect world, we would all be able to handle the needs of our jobs, personal lives, and feel completely satisfied with our ability to fill our own cup. However, if you’re struggling to achieve that balance, some helpful strategies are practicing time management, setting boundaries, prioritizing relationships, focusing on personal health, and trying new things.  

Laura Vanderkam, the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, recommends planning your time by thinking about it in chunks: weekday evenings, weekends into segments for each morning, afternoon, and evening. Viewing your free time with this schedule can help you plan fulfilling moments into your downtime; such as a Friday evening with friends, a Saturday morning spent sleeping in, and chores on Saturday afternoon. Planning out your free time helps keep you from writing unrealistic to-do lists and winding up unsatisfied when you don’t get ‘enough’ done. 

Learning to accept minor things like mess and unorganized workspaces at work and focus on giving yourself a break when you don’t have the energy to cook from scratch or tidy your home leads to lower stress levels. Consciously managing our self-care efforts often leads to better outcomes at work too. If you can find a good balance between work and other demands, you are likely to be happier, more productive, take fewer sick days, and stay in your job for longer. It might take some time, but small daily or weekly habits can make a huge difference in the long run. 

In conclusion… 

Work-life balance is quite difficult to perfect. Often one aspect of your life tips the balance of the scales. Active practice of prioritizing your well-being by taking time to do things you love and maintaining your physical health are top ways to help you prioritize the life part of your balance. Sadly, there is no quick-fix to achieving work-life balance and is a life-long exercise.