Maintaining a work-life balance is not always easy, especially when you’re just starting out in your career.
Many employers see the importance of work-life balance, but it’s pretty easy to end up working more than a regular workday if you’re particularly driven and trying to get ahead.
Often new employees get into the habit of not balancing their work and personal life, which starts a lifelong bad habit. It’s crucial to learn how to maintain a balance from day one.
Know your employer’s expectations
Before you accept a job, make sure to ask questions that help you assess your employer’s approach to work-life balance.
Knowing from the start if your new work environment requires significant overtime or weekend work will help you judge the chance of a good fit.
Employers are pretty transparent when it comes to work-life balance and will usually share any requirements that may not enable you to have a regular 9-5 work life.
It’s also important for your employer to know how you feel about work-life balance as they assess your potential fit. If you aren’t willing to work till 8pm every night, don’t tell them you are.
Know how (and when) to shut-off
Workload and employer expectations aren’t always responsible for a lack of work-life balance.
Many people just don’t know when to shut-off from work – and aren’t willing to leave things for tomorrow.
When you leave work, your work brain should shut off, and emails, phone calls, and work can wait to be answered in the morning. Most people understand that working hours are 9-5pm for the majority of businesses. Don’t stress: your work is not going anywhere.
Learn to say “no”
This is especially difficult for someone just starting out in their career.
How do you say no to your superior?
In most roles, you’ll be responsible for managing different expectations. Often, the people responsible for each task don’t realize all the things already on your “to do” list.
This is where (and why) it’s important to learn how to say no to things that just aren’t do-able. If you don’t feel comfortable with a straight-up “no” learn how to explain to your colleagues that their deadlines aren’t manageable, or show them what priorities will come before their task and why.
If you don’t learn this early on, you’ll find yourself in the office 24 hours a day.
Make sure your boss, employees and colleagues know when you will be unavailable.
If you work in a workplace where people try and contact you at all hours of the day, inform them when you will be unavailable and stick to it.
Keep your boss in the loop with regards to dates you may need to get out of the office early, or on-time due to other commitments.
Communicating this information will not only protect you from getting bombarded with information at all hours – it will also underscore your commitment to managing your workload in a responsible way.
Prioritize and stay organized
Prioritizing your time and staying organized is crucial.
It’s important to distinguish the urgent tasks from work that can wait until tomorrow. Create lists and set reasonable due dates, using whatever combination of digital and offline tools suits your particular needs.
Get in the habit of adding new items to your schedule as soon as they arise – this will make it easy for you to reevaluate your calendar and adjust timelines as needed.
Having this schedule handy will also help you make a case for adjusting your workload or deferring tasks until a later date, as needed.