Balancing your work and life is important to keep stress in check and improve ones productivity and long-term happiness at work. Many people talk about work-life balance but also struggle with maintaining it. It can be hard, especially a world of smartphones constantly buzzing and dinging with the latest notification from your email, chat, and social apps. Your work and life can become even more blurred when your colleagues become friends out of work. If you're constantly attentive to your work, you're not really achieving any kind of balance at all!

Work-life balance ultimately begins with setting boundaries. Once you have the boundaries in place, it's much easier to trade time dedicated to one or the other.

A Trailer of the Future
Photo by Rahul Chakraborty / Unsplash

The simplest boundary that you can often control is your time spent in the office. If you're like me, this may be harder said than done. There are times when I get in a state of "flow" and can lose track of time. I've seen some people add an event to their calendar for their commute. Doing this can serve as a reminder for yourself, as well as broadcast to your coworkers that scheduling a meeting in that time will be cutting into your personal life.

If you primarily work from home, this boundary becomes even fuzzier, yet also more important. A similar strategy as above may still be useful, but you may have to add an additional step to physically separate yourself from your work. Maybe that's closing up and putting your laptop away, walking to a different room, or another form of physical separation.

The other, more pervasive boundary is the digital one. Even after leaving the office the frequent dinging of your phone or "unread" bubble sitting on your work email can lure you back in. You should ask yourself what kind of situations really necessitate pulling you out of your life. What will really happen if you don't respond until tomorrow? While it might seem extreme, I have disabled email notifications entirely. This allows me to check  my email when I have the time for it, but not be interrupted. I then make time for it at specific points in my work day.

We also use Slack at work, which allows me to set a set of time stop receive notifications and automatically suppress them outside that window. This way, if there is some time sensitive need to reach me, I can always be reached, but outside my work hours they will be first informed that this is my personal time. If you use Slack as well, I highly recommend taking advantage of this feature and disabling your email notifications. If your attention is needed urgently, they can always Slack you instead of/in addition to an email.

Ultimately it really is about finding the right balance for you and your own work responsibilities and your personal life. Spend some time thinking about what will work for you and then stick to it.