Avoid Burnout: Achieving Work-Life Balance

In this struggling economy, many employees feel fortunate to have jobs right now. But the fact is that recession-induced layoffs at some companies have left remaining employees responsible for larger workloads.

More work while you’re at work is one thing, but a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that nearly 1 in 10 employees bring work home on weekdays. Couple this with the fact that Americans are among workers who receive the fewest number of vacation days per year—a meager 15 on average, compared to workers in France or Finland who get about 30—and you have a surefire equation for employee burnout.

This is a tough situation for most employees to be in because they want to work hard to ensure job security, but finding a work-life balance is also important. Though juggling the demands of your career and personal life is an ongoing challenge, try these helpful tactics to avoid burnout and find the right work-life balance that works for you.

Keep track of your time. For one week, write down all of the time you spend on work and personal activities. Then, take a look at your list and decide what is most important and also what you enjoy doing the most. Cut out the tasks that are unnecessary or unfulfilling, and delegate other tasks that need to get done.

It’s OK to say “No” sometimes. You can’t be everything for everyone. Whether a co-worker asks you to head another committee, or your child’s soccer coach asks you to bring snacks to practice for the third week in a row, remember that it’s perfectly fine to respectfully say, “no.” Learn to stop doing things out of a false sense of obligation, and you’ll make more room in your life for the things that matter most.

Ask for help when you need it. If you’re overloaded at work (or at home) make sure someone knows. Talk to your employer about your concerns, and let them know that you want to find a solution to allow you to be the best at your job. Oftentimes, employers will help valuable employees by offering flexible solutions like a compressed work week or the option to telecommute on certain days. The more control you have over your work schedule, the less stressed you’ll be.

Leave your bad day at the office. This is hard sometimes, especially on particularly challenging days, but it’s important to avoid taking your work stress home. After a bad day, take a deep breath, make a to-do list so you’re not thinking about your work all night, and go home. Spending time relaxing with family or friends can go a long way toward recharging your batteries.