Work-life balance considerations and flexible work arrangements are more popular with each new year. But when do you have too much life and not enough work?
Managing work-life balance has been a struggle for workers across the U.S. for a long time. The average employed American spends around 40 percent of their day working, and stress levels are high.
But there’s been more focus recently on flexible work arrangements. More companies are considering work-life balance considerations when creating policies, such as maternity leave and other parental needs, work-from-home arrangements, and more vacation or sick time.
But how do you know when you’ve overcorrected the balance and have too much life? Yes, it can happen. And it can impact your work ethic, and thus your career goals, negatively.
Here are signs that you’re not as focused on work as you should be and strategies to get you back on track.
Signs you’ve lost focus on work
1. You’re not meeting deadlines. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur, and you pride yourself on your ability to meet deadlines. How is that going lately? Have you started letting deadlines, even if they’re just dates you set for yourself, slip a day or two?
This can be a sign that you’re not as focused as you once were. Reassess what’s getting in the way.
2. You’re sleeping in later. Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But have you been sleeping way past your normal wake-up time? This is probably less of a sign that you’re getting the sleep you need and more indicative of a later bedtime.
Freelancers and entrepreneurs can especially be guilty of this one. While it’s fine to enjoy your flexible schedule, don’t let it keep slipping until you’re sleeping until noon every day, missing valuable hours for work and creativity.
3. Life tasks are stressing you out.
It’s possible to get stressed out about life chores, just as it is about work. When you work from home, you may be thinking about all the cleaning you should be doing or the creative projects you need to finish. It can be hard to separate work and life when they’re both happening in the same place.
This is a sign that you’re letting life seep into your work a little too much.
Strategies to get you back on track
1. Track what you’re doing each day. There’s no better way to start changing things than to first recognize what you’re doing or not doing. If you’re meeting deadlines or not putting out as high-quality of work lately, figure out what you are doing. Watching too much Netflix? Scrolling through Facebook? Socializing day and night?
Once you track your daily habits for a couple weeks, start figuring out what you can cut out or reduce to focus more on your work and career path.
2. Set working hours. Pretend you have to go into a big company office each morning. Some people who work from home will get up early, take a shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast, all before 8:00 a.m. You might be rolling your eyes at this – what’s the point of working from home if you can’t do it in your pajamas? – but there’s something to setting strict office hours.
Start planning both work hours and free time. You’ll force yourself to get out of bed at the same time every day, which will make you go to sleep earlier each night. Keeping consistent hours is a great way to be consistent with your work, and will keep you focused on moving forward.
3. Separate your life from your work. When you have a hard time separating your life tasks from work tasks, it’s time to separate the two. Physically. If you don’t have a place in your home to set up a home office, go to coffee shops to work. Often, local universities have spaces you can use to work, or you can go to a library.
There are also lots of shared workspaces you can pay a small amount to use, like WeWork, which gives you a variety of options in your area.
By separating your workspace from your life space, you won’t be stressed out by all the chores you have to do. You’ll be able to get your work done even faster. And you won’t be surrounded by distractions, like pets, television, or roommates.
Establishing the right work-life balance is crucial to your success, both personally and professionally. Just remember that the scale can lean both ways.
Gigi, a CEO and experienced entrepreneur, has more tips and tricks to share with you to help you succeed. She helps her clients create detailed career plans and will cater services to each individual situation. To learn how to become unstoppable like Gigi, contact her now.