The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tells us that Netherlands and their neighbor Denmark have the best work-life balance. The OECD’s most important criteria in determining this best balance is the amount ot time people spend outside of work. In the Netherlands .5% of employees work 50 or more hours a week. The average for all countires polled is 13% of all employees working “very long hours.” In the United States 11% of all employees work 50 hours or more. The U.S. ranks 30 out of 38 countries polled. Their low ranking comes partially from the higher percentage of employees working long hours and the fact that they are the only country in this poll without a national paid parental leave policy.
Glassdoor ranked the 29 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance and from a Market Research perspective, the specialization did well!
If you aren’t in one of these roles that already have a winning work-life balance, how do you go about achieving it? Here are five steps to take to improve your work-life balance.
Qualify Your Time
Spend a week jotting down how you spend your time each day in 30 minute increments. At this point, don’t try to adjust it just see what your reality is. This should reveal some items that can be eliminated and some absolute musts that you are short-changing. Each day shorten your to-do list to 3-5 absolute musts. Learn to say no and make it stick.
Just as social media has taken over personal communications, being controlled by your work email is not the most productive way to work. The ideal is to spend your first hour on email each morning and then don’t look at it until another hour after lunch. The reality is emails come in that need to be addressed immediately. Just try to limit those as much as possible and don’t be managed by your email.
All the connectiveness that technology has brought to our lives means we are accessible 24 hours a day. Sit down with your boss and talk about expecations for overtime and availability outside of the office. Clarifying what you are willing to do and what their expectations are will affirm your time commitment to your job and lower your stress level.
Ask for Help
Rapport with your boss and your co-workers isn’t a one-way street. Asking for help opens the door to better relationships and opportunties for you to reciprocate. Everyone gets overwhelmed and having a strong support system is essential for your health and your career success.
Have a Dynamic Life Outside of Work
Are you making yourself invaluable and staying at the office because your next best option is dinner in front of the TV? Invest time and energy in your life outside of the office. If you spend 40 hours a week at the office and 8 hours a night sleeping that leaves 72 hours a week for fun! Join a group, find a hobby, exercise, meditate and spending time with family will all make you a much better employee and a much happier person.