Achieving Work-Life Balance: Strategies and Techniques that Work

Work-life Balance

In our fast-paced society, achieving a work-life balance can feel like an impossible task. We often struggle to juggle our personal and professional lives, leading to stress, burnout, and unhappiness. In this blog, we will explore different strategies and techniques to help you achieve a well-balanced life that supports your goals and priorities.

Work-life balance is more than dividing hours between work and personal interests because when it comes to work and life, work is a massive part of our lives, and life is more than just one other thing. Life is our friends and our families. It's our hobbies and time for ourselves. Trying to put them into two separate buckets is doing neither bucket justice, and in fact, it's creating this real sense of unfairness regarding how we can spend our time.

A lot of the problems come from the image that comes to mind. For many people, it's the scales, where there’s work on one side and life on the other side. We want the scales to be balanced; we want them to be even. When there are more than two elements in the equation, as in this case, this balance in terms of a scale image isn't good enough.

Instead, a better image would be a well-balanced meal or, my personal favourite, a delicious cake. Like a cake, you'll have many different ingredients in your life.  One of the big ingredients is work. Another big ingredient might be your family or another serious commitment that you have, and yes, they take up a considerable amount of the recipe. Still, there are sprinklings of other things like salt. We don't have every ingredient equal measure to create a well-balanced meal or a delicious cake. Knowing how much of each ingredient is needed is key. 

It's the same for work and life. Instead of trying to have just two ingredients and balance them evenly, it's looking at all the elements of your life. Unlike the perfect cake recipe, there isn’t an optimal formula for work-life balance. Instead, it should be the foundation that supports you in your current season of life.


The Curse of Overcommitment

One of the common obstacles to work-life balance is over-commitment, whether to yourself or someone else. When you overcommit in an area, disconnecting is very difficult.

For example, if you take on a massive project at work without the time or resources available to complete it as planned, thoughts of that work will come up even when you’ve closed the laptop. And when you overcommit to something, it's not just your time that's impacted. It's also your energy and your attention. 

You won’t be able to enjoy the weekend with friends or family if you are tired from all the extra hours you spent at work that week. And if your attention is preoccupied with thoughts of a looming deadline, you will find it hard to be present with the people you are with. When you overcommit to work or any area of your life, it impacts everything.


The Balance Wheel

The Balance Wheel, also known as the Wheel of Life, is a great tool; you could imagine it as a wheel or, again, my favourite, a deliciously gooey chocolate cake. This invites you to look at the different areas of your life to see where you might be over-investing or neglecting.  

Imagine that this delicious cake or the wheel is sliced into eight different slices or eight different segments, and each segment is an area that's important to you so you could have work, family, friends, health, personal development, spirituality, finance, and whatever else is important to you. For each segment or each slice, you would rate it on a scale of 0 to 10, 0  being terrible and 10 being ideal, and from there, you can take a step back and look at the cake or the wheel overall and see whether it is in balance for you.

If you don’t rate an area of your life as a ten, it doesn’t automatically mean it needs improvement. Some things will be threes and fours, and sometimes, it's okay if there are three or four. It depends on the significance of that area in your life.

You might also see an opportunity to dial back in one area to focus on another. If you have areas of your life that are scored as high as nine, it’s essential to ask whether it has to be nine. Would eight be good enough? Quite often, there'll be a negligible difference to outsiders if you move from a nine to an eight, but there'll be a big difference for you. 

Wheel of Life

Boundaries for Work-Life Balance

When looking at the different areas of your life, looking at the boundaries you need to protect them can be helpful. Some people are integrators who happily integrate personal time into their workday and incorporate their work into the rest of their lives. Other people are segmentors, which means work time is for work and non-work time is for everything else.

There's no right or wrong way; it's just good for you to know what type of person you are. If you are adjusting the balance in your work and life overall, ensure you do it with the boundaries that make sense to you.

Bendy Plans are Best

If you complete the balance wheel and decide that there's an area you want to improve in, the next natural step would be to make a plan.

I'm a big fan of goal setting and knowing what steps are needed to achieve the goals, but you can't be overly rigid in your plans for work-life balance. There is a saying, “Life is what happens when you're busy making plans.” Well, this is case and point because if you overplan every minute of your week, then if something unexpected happens, you're not going to be able to respond to that in the way that you want.

If it's a good thing that happens, you might pass up the opportunity for some unexpected joy because you've already committed to a plan. If it's a challenge or a problem you have to deal with, you might feel unnecessary additional stress because that unexpected event pulls you away from your well-laid plans.

When it comes to routines and plans for the week, you want to be able to bend them and not break them, so there should always be a little bit of flexibility in those foundational routines you're looking to implement.


More ways to rebalance your week

In addition to the Balance Wheel, here are a few other ways to improve your work-life balance.

 I love the question, “What does a Tuesday look like for you?”. You could have exciting plans for the weekend and start Monday with perfect intentions, but Tuesday is a pretty regular day of the week. If there's an imbalance, you're going to find it there. So, what does a Tuesday look like for you from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, and are there things there that you'd like to change?

Work-life balance (1)

Before you start changing anything, know your non-negotiables. What things are significant to you in this season of your life that you must focus on and that you want to prioritise? Depending on where you are, personally and professionally, they could be at work or in any area of your life. Once you know your non-negotiables, you could use minimum and maximum times to tweak other areas of your life and create space.


If you've been putting something off, set a minimum amount of time per day or week that you will spend on it. If something else is consuming a lot of your time and, as a result, your energy and your attention, you can set maximum time limits for the day or week.

That allows you to shift where you spend your time and gradually shift how much effort you put into things to find a new balance that works for you.


Tune into your sense of balance.

As we wrap up, I want to remind you that work-life balance is everchanging. It’s not a scale with work on one side and your life on the other. Instead, it’s your sense of balance at this stage of your life.

The ingredients and their importance will change as you move through life. The important thing is not that you find the perfect work-life balance formula; instead, you find ways to identify when your balance is off and make the changes you need.

Download the template and take the first step to improve your work-life balance.