Signs of an Unhealthy Work Life Balance and How to Fix It
Finding the perfect work life balance can be tricky. Work can sometimes seem to take a priority over our personal life, especially when there seems to be so much to do with urgent deadlines to keep. But working too much can lead to stress and burnout, as well as your personal relationships and hobbies becoming neglected.
It’s therefore vital to monitor your workplace wellbeing. This way you can look after yourself and your relationships with your loved ones, helping you to feel less stressed and maintain good physical and mental health.
Below are some of the signs that could indicate you’re overworked and our tips to help improve your work life balance.
You Feel Tired All the Time
If you constantly feel fatigued, it could be a sign that you are working too much. It might be that having too much to juggle in the day is making you feel mentally and physically exhausted. An unhealthy work life balance can also result in you sleeping poorly; you might struggle to get to sleep or to stay asleep. You may find it difficult to switch off and end up thinking about work and everything you need to do, instead of sleeping.
Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night to feel rested and be able to function properly the next day. Finding a relaxing bedtime routine can help you to fall asleep quicker and get a more restful night’s sleep. You should find what works for you – it might be that cutting out screentime before bed can help you to feel more relaxed, or meditating, or reading a book. If you find yourself thinking about what you need to do the next day, it can be helpful to take some time to write everything down, to help clear your mind.
You could also try exercising during the day, which will help you to sleep better and feel less fatigued. You should avoid exercising too close to your bedtime – you should leave it at least 3 hours, otherwise you might find you struggle to fall asleep. You could also try cutting out caffeine late in the day, as this can also prevent you from falling asleep.
You’re Frequently Working Overtime
Working too much and too long hours is a sign of an unhealthy work life balance. It might be that you feel you need to work more hours in order to get all your tasks done, or you might feel pressure from management to take on more work. Working from home can also increase the risk of working longer hours. When the separation between work and personal life is blurred, you could end up checking emails and working on projects long after your official finishing time.
You should try to ensure you’re only working your assigned hours, so you have a chance to take a break from work and spend time on yourself. If you’re struggling to fit your work into the usual working day, you might need to manage your tasks better. Take some time every morning to look at your to-do list and prioritise what needs to be done and when. Having a visual reminder of your task list, such as a whiteboard or desktop memo board can help you to stay organised.
If you have too much work to fit in even after you have taken steps to manage your time, you might need to speak to your manager about your workload. Your employer has a duty of care to support your health and safety at work, which includes mental wellbeing. They may be able to redistribute tasks to other members of the team, or they may need to look into recruiting another team member if everyone is struggling with the workload.
You Often Feel Irritable
If you find that you frequently lose your patience with your co-workers and also your friends and family, it could be a sign of stress from working too much. If you often feel irritable or angry even over small matters, it might mean that you need to take a break from work before the pressure gets too much.
If you’re constantly losing patience, you should ensure you’re taking enough time for yourself. Make sure to schedule even a little bit of time per day so you can do something that you enjoy, so you’re not just always doing something for other people. It might be that you want to work out, have some pamper time, or take part in a hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Whatever it is, find an activity that makes you happy and make the time for it.
Your Workspace and Personal Space Are a Mess
If you feel overloaded with work, this can tip over into your physical working space, as well as your personal space. You might feel like you don’t have time to tidy up and if you’re struggling to manage your tasks, you could end up with paperwork from different projects strewn across your desk. A cluttered workspace will make you less focused and productive, which could lead to feeling more stressed and, ultimately, burnout.
You should make sure you have the right equipment to properly organise your desk. Letter trays can help you to organise your paperwork into items that you need to deal with urgently, items that are still to be dealt with, and items that are in progress. You should also ensure you have proper equipment for filing and ensure documents are properly filed promptly so they don’t sit on your desk causing clutter.
You should also make sure you take some time to keep your personal spaces tidy. This will help you to feel more relaxed when you’re not working. Even just taking 5 minutes to pick up clothes from the floor or tidying up clutter can help your mind to be calmer. You could use storage boxes to help you organise your belongings and keep your home peaceful and uncluttered.
You Never Take Time Off
If you have an unhealthy work life balance, you might be unlikely to ever take time off. This means that you mind never gets a proper break from work, which can result in you feeling overly stressed and can even lead to burnout.
You should make sure you are using all your holiday throughout the year and using the time to completely switch off from work, without checking emails or taking phone calls. You should also ensure you take sick days when needed, so you can give your body a chance to heal and recover properly.
You might be reluctant to take time off due to the prospect of coming back to an even longer to-do list. To prevent this from happening, speak to your manager and team members to ensure your work is covered whilst you’re away.
You’re Neglecting Your Personal Relationships
If you’re working too much, you’ll have less time to spend on the relationships with your friends and family. You could also find that even when you do spend time with them, you’re too mentally drained to interact with them properly, or you might find you frequently check your phone to look at work emails.
To make sure you’re putting the right amount of effort into your personal relationships and maintain a good family life balance, you should spend quality time with your loved ones. Try to have a family dinner every evening and turn your phone off so you can concentrate fully on what’s being said. You should also check in with your friends, either making time to see them in person or calling them for a catch-up. Talking to your loved ones is a good way to feel less stressed and also to reprioritise what’s important to you so you can improve your personal life balance.
You Struggle to Focus on Work
Working too much can actually have a negative effect on your productivity. When you have so much going on, you’ll find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. You might find you’re always thinking about the next thing that needs to be done or worrying about something that you don’t want to forget. This will make you less productive as you don’t be able to complete your current project to the best of your ability.
Managing and prioritising your tasks will help you to stay focused on one thing at a time. You should also make sure you’re taking plenty of breaks throughout the day. Even taking 5 minutes away from your desk can help you to refocus your mind. This will help you to work more efficiently. When you take breaks you should try to completely step away from work so you have chance to properly reset. You could take this opportunity to take part in some exercise, whether that’s a walk around the block or even a yoga session over your lunch break.
Read more about keeping a healthy work life balance and looking after your wellbeing at work: