Burnout is absolutely no joke, and these days it seems like a lot of us are feeling, if not completely burnt, then at least extra crispy.
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So I became curious about what's helped other people feel more balanced. I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their best work-life balance tips, and wowee did they deliver:
1.Look for ways to improve your workplace's culture around balance and overworking.
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"Accept that work will never love you back. It will demand as much of your time and energy as you can give it, but it will never be satisfied. As my dad says, 'It’ll suck you dry and call you dusty.'
If you possibly can, find ways to fix it, rather than just bitch about how busy and stressed you are all the time. Join committees to improve your work culture, and join a union if that’s available to you. If nothing else, keep track of your tasks and how long you’re spending on them, and try to get concrete action points out of your boss about what to prioritize or do less well on. Share your successes with your colleagues. And find sources of satisfaction outside work: hobbies, volunteer work, religion — find something meaningful."
2.Taking time off can be a great way to recharge, even if you don't think you need it.
"TAKE. TIME. OFF. DAMMIT. Even just one or two days per month (PTO permitting, of course), or take a full week off every three to four months or so. For real, I didn't realize how burnt out I was until I took time off, and just WOW. Now I have made it a mission and goal to take at least one or two days off per month, long weekend kind of thing. Stay at home, pack a bag, do whatever you want, but taking a day off from your desk can really help."
3.And if you're salaried, don't feel pressured to work extra hours.
"If you’re salaried, it’s hard to break the habits of an hourly worker. When you’re salaried, they pay you for your EXPERTISE, not your time. Don’t work more than your 40 hours, less if you can, because that isn’t why you’re paid anymore."
4.Make time for yourself by blocking it out on your calendar.
5.Instead of logging back on to do "one more thing," leave a note for Future You. They can handle it later.
"Working from home makes the lines blur FAST — that's why my hard-and-fast rule is that when I log off for the day, I'm done — no logging back in at night, checking email from my phone or doing one more thing. I'll write myself a note or even leave myself a voicemail if I'm worried about something that comes to mind.
I also use 'Future Me' a lot to talk about myself the next day and after a particularly stressful day, sometimes I have to say it's her problem, not mine...of course, it also means Future Me hates Past Me sometimes..."
6.Give yourself some buffer time to chill out after work before you start doing more stuff.
"It’s a small thing, but when I get home from work every day I take 45 minutes to sit, have a cuppa, and zone out to the TV before I start housework, dinner, etc. This allows me time to switch off from my work day and become fully engaged in being at home. It’s made my downtime more high quality."
7.If you tend to talk about work a lot, come up with a "safe word" or phrase that your loved ones can use to help you snap out of it.
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"My fiancé and I both started new management jobs that require us to be on location in an office and are also both on call. We found ourselves talking about work all the time and feeling like we had no balance. My fiancé came up with a phrase we now use to remind each other to take a break from work. If either of us get into a rant, the other will say, 'what are we grateful for today.' It felt silly at first, but it really helped put things in perspective. It snaps us out of our work thought-storm and gives us an opportunity to speak each other's love language (I need quality time and he needs words of affirmation). We really do have a lot of things to be grateful for and sometimes need a little reminder when we’re caught up in the moment."
8.Make sure your coworkers know that you shan't be checking work messages after-hours.
"Be clear with coworkers about boundaries and scheduling. If you work remote, shut your computer off at the same time every day. For the most part, unless your job is in a medical or safety field, no one will die if you send an email the next morning or return a phone call during your work hours. There are always going to be 'martyr' workers who think they are better for sacrificing their health or time for work. They are not better, and you can still get your job done during regular hours."
9.And learn to be ok with leaving some things undone.
"Leave when you are scheduled to leave. The work will still be there tomorrow."
10.Make your personal social media accounts a work-free zone that you can scroll through after-hours without seeing Linda from accounting.
11.For the love of all that is holy, take your lunch break.
"TAKE YOUR FULL LUNCH BREAK!!! I hate when employees are expected to regularly eat lunch at their desk as they work. First, no one actually does that; they eat then work or eat as they’re looking at things that have nothing to do with work. Second, with any job but especially when you have a job that is less than ideal, it’s so cathartic to leave the building, go somewhere (for me ideally home for my lunch break), and eat your lunch while not thinking about work."
12.When you're on the job hunt, look for companies that already prioritize work-life balance.
"I make it a priority to seek out job opportunities with a culture that is willing, able, and eager to accommodate a work/life balance. I strictly enforce work boundaries on my own as well — I take my full lunch hour every day, I do not have my work email on my phone, and my Slack notifications are turned off in the evening. My vacation is my vacation, and I never promise to 'check in' while I'm away, or offer to be contacted in case someone has a question. It is possible to find workplaces that have these same priorities, and THOSE are the places you want to work!"
13.And if your workplace doesn't respect your boundaries, it may be time to look for one that does.
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"To be honest? In my experience, the key to a good work-life balance is the job itself. Too many companies expect responsiveness before or after hours, expect salaried positions to work whenever they want them to, don’t pay you enough to live comfortably, etc.
If you raise these concerns and there is no compromise or change, the best way to achieve better work/life balance is to take your talents to a company that enables it."
14.Sticking to a daily routine and giving yourself a little extra time in the morning can make a big difference.
"I struggled to WFH prepandemic (big procrastinator over here), but this year I’m enforcing a daily routine to ensure I work during my working hours and shut off my laptop at consistent times (when possible). Waking up 30 minutes earlier, I now spend my mornings stretching or exercising, cleaning up from the night before, getting dressed, all before 9 a.m. so I feel fully prepared for the day.
I’m also trying to eat at the same times and take my daily stupid walk for my stupid mental health (I joke, but this routine really has helped my mental/physical health and I feel a better separation from my 'work self' and 'relaxing self'). Also, keep your personal phone in another room when working if you can."
15.If you work from home, knock out a few chores on your breaks so you have more time to do whatever the heck you wanna do after work.
"Honestly working from home HAS been a game changer. Now instead of taking a whole hour for lunch, I take small, 15 minutes breaks at home and set the washing machine and then hang my clothes, sweep, do the dishes and such, so that I don't spend hours doing everything together. I also take showers during those 15 minute breaks, so as soon as I finish my shift I'm free to do whatever.
Also, I do my haircuts and dyeing and everything with a hair dresser who comes to my home. I can work while I get everything done and it's great. if you have the chance, do it! I know it's like once every month or more but it does help. You can then spend free time with friends, go out, go to the gym, or just stay in watching TV if you wanna chill."
16.And setting aside some work-only space can help you create a physical boundary between work and life.
17.Finally, shift your focus to taking care of (and listening to) yourself so you can better understand what you personally need to feel balanced.
"Living my life with a bigger commitment to physical and mental wellness has allowed me to gain an 'everything is everything' attitude. Allowing myself the right amount of sleep, cardio exercise, correct foods, and healthy relationships has really upped my game. I used to get off on a Friday and cut loose for 48 hours but could never really catch up with myself. Now I go out when I want and stay in when I want, all while self-regulating, and I feel totally in balance. BONUS: It led to huge promotions and way more compensation, which is nice!"
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.
What's something that helps you feel more balanced? Share your best tips for juggling this whole work-life thing in the comments!
And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.