People who have a clear division between their working life and their private life seem to be better protected against stress. It is key to look after your work-life-balance. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take on a 9-to-5-job.
You can only find a balance between your personal life and work if you are not constantly thinking about it when you’re not at work, for example while you are cooking or having fun with friends, your partner or the kids.
To achieve the right work-life balance, you can let yourself be inspired by Ellen Ernst Kossek’s model. She elaborated a very useful five-step plan.
Evaluate your situation. Where do you need to protect your boundaries? When does the line between work and private life become blurred? Why are you unable to switch off the work button?
Build your ideal image. What are your goals? When building an ideal work-life balance, don’t focus on the ideal image that’s projected by the media. Don’t look at a work-life balance as a balance with two equal parts (dividing it fifty-fifty is impossible for almost everyone), but as a division between work and your personal life you that doesn’t generate feelings of guilt. Find a balance – both at work and at home – where you don’t feel like you have to compensate or to straighten anything out.
Your own ideal image can be completely different from what is suggested by the media, and that’s okay. When your children live in student rooms and your partner returns home late at night, it might fit into your work-life balance to work until eight o’clock. Or maybe you enjoy the weekend or a holiday more when you take some time to do a little work or read some emails every now and then?
Think about your actions. What steps do you have to take to reach your ideal goal? Outsource your (domestic) work? Or can you work more efficiently by developing some new skills?
Test it in practice. Give yourself some time to achieve your self-selected balance. Evaluate if your ideal image can be reached and adjust where necessary.
Create some moments of reflection. Make sure that your new intentions don’t get washed away. Reflect regularly on your progress (on a daily or weekly basis, or every fortnight). That can be done with a therapist, a colleague or your partner.