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6 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance: Strategies for Busy Professionals

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In the ever-competitive world of work, our desire to grow and succeed in our careers often leads us to push aside our well-being and prioritise our professional obligations instead.

This approach, however, generally creates a negative association between the employee and their job, leading to higher levels of burnout and job dissatisfaction. For instance, according to ‘The Future Of You’, a 2022 study from Lenovo and Cebr, just under a third (31%) of UK employees feel they do not currently have a good work-life balance. This is why creating a harmonious work-life balance is imperative, not only to improve employees' mental and physical health but to help them thrive in their careers.

If you struggle with your work-life balance, we’ve compiled a list of tips for busy professionals like you to get back on track.

What is Work-Life Balance?

A healthy work-life balance refers to harmony between both work and life, where an individual places equal importance and priority on their career and the commitments of their personal life. It requires the conscious management of one's time and energy between two, to meet professional obligations, while also purposefully prioritising self-care and personal well-being. 

Numerous studies have confirmed over the last few years that successful work-life balance can have many positive benefits for professionals such as, reduced stress and anxiety, lower risk of experiencing burnout and a greater sense of job satisfaction. Nonetheless, this balance is never as easy as it seems to achieve, leading many professionals to burnout and frustration with their work conditions. 

As stated by Ev Williams, co-founder of Medium and Twitter, “When you don’t sleep, eat crap, don’t exercise, and are living off adrenaline for too long, your performance suffers. Your decisions suffer. Your company suffers. Love those close to you: Failure of your company is not failure in life. Failure in your relationship is”. 

Yet, many focus on striking an equal 50/50 split of their time between work and leisure, which is not necessarily the ideal. All that is required for a healthy work-life balance is feeling fulfilment and satisfaction with both aspects of our lives and it can look different for each person. It can involve: 

  • Making time to sleep and eat well
  • Managing to meet your work deadlines and still having time to meet with friends and family 
  • Not worrying and thinking of work outwith working hours

However, a demanding role, an overbearing boss or being overly invested in your responsibilities can make finding a balance harder, so conscious consideration of it is vital.

Why is Work-Life Balance So Important? 

The ultimate goal of having a healthy work-life balance involves being successful at work, while still managing to have a fulfilling personal life you can make time for. When there is an imbalance between the two though, and too much time and energy is devoted to just one, there could be numerous negative effects. 

Aviva, for example, found that around 58% of UK employees are neglecting their physical health due to being too busy at work. This is just one of the possible effects when there is lack of harmony between life and work. 

Often people fall into the trap of believing that we can be productive for 8 hours straight, but that is simply not the case. This is a highly unrealistic expectation which only leads employees to overwork, increasing the risk of burnout, exhaustion and stress-related health problems. 

Based on a survey on overworking by Inc and Go, 49% of respondents cited increased stress, while 42% cited emotional fatigue as a consequence of overworking, with 77% admitting that working overtime has negatively affected their work-life satisfaction. 

As a result, job seekers are now favouring roles with increased work-life balance and apply to companies with policies that foster its importance. Salaries are also slowly losing the prioritisation they once had, with a survey reporting 60% of employees selecting work-life balance as the most important influencer of job satisfaction and salary receiving 43%.

But, how can you reach a work-life balance when you are a busy professional? Below are some tips to follow to reach the harmony everyone is currently seeking. 

Tips for Improved Work-Life Balance 

1) Setting boundaries and work hours

The very first thing to consider when trying to create a healthy work-life balance is how to realistically place a distinct separation between work and life by figuring out what your boundaries and work hours are. This not only helps keep you accountable for the time and effort put into work but also helps set clear guidelines with your colleagues concerning what you are happy doing outwith those working hours.

Many professionals go the extra step and get a separate phone or computer for work that they can shut off, or set on silent when their work day is over, to avoid receiving work-related emails, notifications and calls during their leisure time. 

For those that this is not possible, others effectives ways to avoid seeing work-related content in non-working hours can include:

  • using different browsers, 
  • Separate email accounts,
  • utilising platform filters

Along with that, knowing your working hours and maintaining the same ones will enable you to structure your day, set timeframes for tasks and be more efficient with work obligations.

2) Leave work at work

This point somewhat trickles down from the one above, and it is all about maintaining the separation once you have logged off for the day. 

Firstly, when your work day is approaching its end, take some time to make note of any outstanding tasks and what you should prioritise the following working day. This not only helps with organisation and planning, but also helps with closure to your day, where you can write down any work-related thoughts you have and step away from them without worrying that you might forget them.

When it comes to email notifications, simply just switch them off. Lines start to get blurred when you do work-related things during hours that are meant for your leisure. The Mental Health Foundation advises to “draw the line between work and home” and for those working from home, best practice is to have a dedicated work room that you can step out of when the day is over.

3) Learn to say no

With deadlines looming and intense shareholder meetings on a regular basis, managers and leaders often feel overwhelmed with the workload, with some reaching out to their team members during and outside of work hours. Making yourself available to your boss at all times leaves you little room for separation between work and personal life with the balance blending into fluidity. 

If you recognise yourself in a position where your boss makes demands and requests outside of your professional capacity, and you are an individual that generally wants to please everyone, perhaps learning to say ‘no’ is something you ought to learn. 

Even when you don’t feel like saying outright ‘no’, take a moment to think about whether you can take on the task assigned and tell your boss you will get back to them. 

If taking the task is something that is feasible and will not leave you feeling stressed, then feel free to say yes, but if that is not the case, remember there is nothing wrong with simply saying no. Set your boundaries and your limits so that they also know. 

4) Work smarter, not harder 

Oftentimes, professionals confuse the long hours they spend working with how hard they work, but that could not be further from the truth. Many even sacrifice their sleep to get an early start to go through their email and plan their day before their day begins are swamped with meetings. 

According to the World Health Organisation, working 55 hours or more a week was associated with 35% higher risk of stroke and 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours per week.  

Instead, focus on prioritisation and setting a certain time aside for each task, to avoid spending too much time on a single task or getting caught in unproductive activities such as unstructured meetings that can go on for hours. 

Prioritising can help you focus on the task at hand, to get it completed in the time set and move on to the next one. This way you stay on schedule and meet all upcoming deadlines.

5) Find a hobby away from work

Neglecting your after-work interests to spend time perfecting a work task should not be an option when you are trying to achieve a sustainable work-life balance. 

Humans are not meant to work for hours on end without having any leisure time. Productivity is not something that is constant and overworking yourself will only lead you to feeling burnt out and resentful of your job.

Find a hobby you enjoy doing that is completely irrelevant to the work you do, that will make you excited to end your day, and easier to disconnect from professional obligations when it’s time for your hobby. 

As a result, you will feel more fulfilled and energised to do your work, and do it well. A study in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour found that individuals that spend time on a hobby they enjoy have more confidence in their ability to perform their job will, therefore increasing their overall job satisfaction.

6) Take some needed time off

Sometimes to truly disconnect from work and have some time to recharge means taking holidays to be able to switch off for a moment, with your laptop completely out of reach. Whether that is travelling to an overseas destination or a staycation, you must take your annual leave to physically and mentally rejuvenate yourself. 

Surprisingly however, research found that 62% of UK workers did not take all of their annual leave in 2022, while more than 1 in 10 workers reported that they did not take all of their annual leave because they felt pressured by their management. 

Regardless of what your boss says, you are entitled to your annual leave and can take it whenever you need it, no one can stop you from doing so. You otherwise run the risk of increased stress and dissatisfaction with your job if you don't do so, which can only lead to reduced performance and commitment to the job. 

With proper planning, you can take time away from work without worrying about burdening your colleagues in your absence or finding a huge workload on your return. 


While succeeding in our chosen career is important, we only have one life, and with work taking over our lives we end up missing out on all the other things that make us whole. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is key to being a well-rounded individual who thrives in all aspects of life, both professional or personal. 

Whether that means taking a break when needed, rearranging your work structure to a flexible schedule or finding an entirely different job, reflect on what you need to do to achieve better work-life balance. 

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