Maintaining work-life balance can help us be successful without succumbing to chronic stress that often results from overwork. Stress has been shown to cause health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, gastric ulcers, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Stress also leads to workplace burnout, which causes fatigue and irritability. People who are burnt out also have lower productivity and performance quality.
Prioritizing work-life balance helps us be healthier and more effective. But what exactly does work-life balance mean?
Definitions of Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is not about scheduling an equal number of hours for all your priorities. Life is fluid.
And most of us have multiple priorities competing for our time: work, with family, with friends, exercising, sleeping, or working on hobbies or other pastimes that help us maintain perspective. The optimum amount of time one spends on each will vary for each person, and even vary from day to day for everyone.
This work-life blogger defines a healthy work-life balance as the appropriate balance between achievement and enjoyment.
Wikipedia defines it as “the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are equal.”
In short, work-life balance means different things to different people at different times, and that’s why employers using the traditional office format have such a difficult time defining fostering it.
It’s also why coworking spaces have become so popular: because they are built to support the ways people can achieve the right work-life balance at any given time.
Flexible Work Options
Research has found that a flexible work environment reduces stress, increases job satisfaction and gives employees more time to practice healthy habits. It shows that working from home, telecommuting and taking advantage of flexible work hours helps employees make time for better self-care. This includes exercising, getting enough sleep, taking care of health issues and making healthy food.
The result of this self-care is that workers feel more energized during the workday, so they are more efficient, creative, productive and collaborative.
Coworking spaces contribute to flexibility and productivity, because people work in a self-supervised environment, free to come when they need to be there, and leave when they need to be somewhere else.
Enjoyable Work Environment
In The Realist, American author and free thinker Paul Krassner said that one aspect of happiness is making as little distinction as possible between work and play. When people enjoy and are fulfilled through their job, work feels more like a second home.
Elements to an enjoyable work culture include flexibility, but also comfortable office space, a sense of community, and opportunities for professional growth and social connection.
Coworking offers these elements also:
- Comfortable office space: Most coworking offices offer space that is pleasant, well-appointed, conveniently located, and highly affordable. LawWorks’ Irvine space offers lawyers a location directly across from John Wayne Airport, with beautiful decor, a concierge, fast wifi, rentable conference rooms and private offices, as well as refreshments – for far less than traditional office space costs in the same area.
- Community: Building strong relationships at work increases happiness and engagement, and lowers stress and related health issues. People feel supported by their peers and are willing to “stretch” to increase their capabilities and fulfill their potential. Coworking spaces like LawWorks are all about building community with open workspace and regular community events like those described below.
- Opportunities for professional growth: LawWorks offers monthly MCLE-accredited courses, as well as monthly events to help lawyers build their network of social connections.
Happiness at work, in addition to the above benefits, also improves performance and productivity, and leads to better client satisfaction: happier employees = happier clients.
How to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance
Advice abounds on ways to find the balance that works for you. (Example: “37 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance” Our advice: skip that article.)
The best way to achieve it is to listen to your own life and your own innate wisdom (you know it’s in there):
- What do you need more of in your life? What would you like to have more of?
- What do you want and need less of in your life?
- What’s really important to you?
Spend some time defining those things, and then be intentional about spending more time on things you want or need, and less time on things you neither need nor want. Balance reality with the big picture: most of us NEED to make money to have the life we WANT. It’s true that on their deathbed, no one ever says, “I wish I had put in more overtime.” But they might say, “I wish I had achieved something bigger.”
So, what’s really important to you? For many people, better work-life balance may mean more time with family. It may also mean better self-care, so they have a better quality of time with their family.
For many, it’s professional achievement. But be aware that the best results come when you’re physically and mentally healthy: well-rested, with a healthy diet and physical activity levels, and a certain amount of both alone time and social activity. All work and no play dulls productivity and innovation.
Whatever your definition, take a small amount of time each day to review your priorities. For 5 minutes each morning, to resolve to spend time on those things that will help you achieve what you want and need in life. Spend another 5 minutes each night reviewing how you spent your time, and how you can do better tomorrow.
If in that process, you find that your current work environment is not conducive to balance, you may want to consider a coworking space.
If you are a legal professional, come to see what we’ve got going at LawWorks. Contact us today to schedule a tour or talk to us about options.