10 steps to a better work-life balance


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Do you feel stressed all the time? Are you feeling overwhelmed with work? Are you struggling to find time for family and friends? You are not alone. 

A lot of people struggle to create work-life balance. I’m here to give some practical advice, and we will discuss 10 steps that will help you achieve work-life balance and live a happier, healthier life!

What does work-life balance mean?

Work-life balance is the ability to manage work and non-work responsibilities effectively. Work-life balance is important because it can help reduce stress, improve work performance, and increase job satisfaction.

What does poor work-life balance look like?

You definitely don’t have work-life balance when work affects your personal life consistently. For example, you might work long hours and not have time for family or hobbies. 

Or maybe work is causing you so much stress it’s affecting your health. Poor work-life balance can also look like never taking vacation days or feeling guilty when you do take time off.

When your baseline feels closer to anxiety than peace, chances are you need to reevaluate your current balance.

What does better work-life balance look like?

People with a healthy work-life balance often feel like they have more energy, mentally and physically. They’re able to be productive at work without sacrificing their personal lives. 

They don’t feel guilty when they take time off work because they know it’s important to recharge. A healthy work-life balance can also improve relationships. When you have a good work-life balance, you are able to spend more quality time with family and friends. You are also less likely to experience burnout at work, which can lead to better work performance.

How can I better balance my work life and personal life?

This is where our 10 steps come in. Balance means different things to everyone — it’s a very personal state. What feels like a great balance to one person might be a terrible setup for another. Some people might need a big career change, whereas others just need to make a small change.

This is why everyone should follow 10 steps to deciding what this means for each of us, rather than following somebody else’s idea of what balance means. These 10 steps are used by career coaches to help people find a better setup. Let’s begin!

1) Stop and Assess Your Current State

The first thing you need to do is take a massive step back. You can’t work on fixing your work-life balance if you don’t know what’s currently going on.

So take some time off work, even if it’s just a long weekend. During this time, assess how you’re feeling mentally and physically. Are you stressed? Anxious? Tired all the time? Do you have any physical health concerns? Write everything down so you can refer back to it later.

It’s also important to assess your work life during this time. Are you happy with your current job? Do you feel like you have a good work-life balance? If not, what would need to change to achieve that balance?

2) Identify Negative Influences

Next you need to spot the things that affect you most. These could be work-related or personal stressors. Once you’ve identified them, you can start to work on a plan to address them.

Some common negative influences include:

  • Long work hours
  • Unreasonable deadlines
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Poor communication from your boss or co-workers
  • A job that isn’t fulfilling
  • Constant work stress
  • Difficult co-workers or boss

For now, just focus on identifying the things that are hurting your work-life balance. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next step.

3) Identify Positive Influences

Now pick out all things that are positive in your work life. These could be things that make you enjoy going to work, or help you feel balanced even when work is busy.

Some common positive influences include:

  • A flexible work schedule
  • The ability to work from home occasionally
  • Supportive co-workers or boss
  • A job that is meaningful to you

Make sure to write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how big or small. Don’t forget personal items as well, such as a supportive partner or family member.

4) List Your Priorities

Now it’s time to list out all your priorities from your personal and work life. This will help you start to see where your focus needs to be to achieve work-life balance.

Some common priorities include:

  • Health and wellness
  • Family and friends
  • Career growth
  • Financial security
  • Fun and relaxation

Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. Just make sure you list everything important to you at work and in your personal life.

Once you have your list of priorities, move on to the next step.

5) Rank Your Priorities

This is the harder part — now you need to rank them in order of importance. This will help you start to see where you need to focus your energy to achieve work-life balance.

For example, if your top priority is health and wellness, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically and mentally. That might mean making time for exercise, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep.

If your top priority is career growth, you’ll need to focus on things such as networking, learning new skills, and advancing in your company. 

There is no right or wrong answer here — just rank your priorities in order of importance to you.

6) Realign With Your Priorities

Your priority order should start to contrast immediately with your everyday life as it is right now. Have you set up your life in a way that aligns with your top-ranking priorities? 

For example, if your top priority is health and wellness but you work long hours and never have time for exercise, you need to realign your priorities. The same goes for any other area of your life where there is a discrepancy.

This step can be difficult, because it might require some major changes in your life. But it’s important to make sure your priorities are reflected in everyday choices. If you’re not sure where to start, try picking one area of your life to focus on at a time.

7) Decide How Much Change You Need

Now that you have some potential areas for improvement, it’s time to determine how much change you need to make. You don’t need to change everything immediately — in fact, that’s usually not possible or realistic.

So look at the areas you identified in step six, and decide how much change is needed in each. For example, if you need to realign your work schedule with family life, how much flexibility do you need? 

Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. Just make sure that you’re realistic in your expectations, and don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.

8) Make Small Changes First

Once you’ve decided how much change you need to make, it’s time to start making changes. But don’t try to do too much at once — it’s important to start small.

For example, if you need more flexibility in your work life, talk to your boss about the possibility of working from home one day a week. Or if you need to focus on your health, commit to going for a walk every day. 

Making small changes is easier and less overwhelming than trying to make big changes all at once. It’s also more likely to be successful in the long run.

So start with small changes, then move on to bigger ones.

9) Remove Distractions

There are likely some super obvious things, people, or situations you know you need to remove from your life to gain a better work-life balance. But it can be really tough to actually do it.

For example, if you know you need to spend less time on social media, delete the apps from your phone. Or if you need to stop working late nights, set a hard cutoff time and stick to it.

Whatever the distraction is, make a plan to remove it from your life. It might be tough at first, but it will be worth it in the end.

And once you’ve removed distractions, you can focus on the last step.

10) Make a Big Change If Necessary

After you’ve tried all of the above steps, you might still find you’re not able to achieve work-life balance. If that’s the case, it might be time for a big change.

You might need to switch to a job with fewer hours, or move to a different city. Or you might need to make a major lifestyle change.

Big changes can be scary, but sometimes they’re necessary. If you’ve tried everything else and you’re still not able to achieve work-life balance, don’t be afraid to make a big change.

Work-life balance is something that takes time and effort to achieve. But if you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a more balanced life. Just remember to take things one step at a time, and be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is work-life balance. Keep at it, and eventually you’ll get there.

This article originally appeared on Tribe And Seek and was syndicated by MediaFeed

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15 U.S. cities with the best work-life balance

15 US cities with the best work-life balance

It’s no secret that Americans work a lot. And if you’re an American parent, well, you probably have an even busier schedule. According to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, the average American works more than counterparts in other industrialized countries, including Japan, France, the UK and Germany.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Americans work 38.8 hours per week, and that’s an average of everyone’s who’s worked full- or part-time. Not to mention a commute of almost an hour (26.9 minutes each way)!

Over the past 10 years, average commuting times have consistently inched higher. These days, 17.6 percent of commuters now spend 45 minutes or more getting to or from work, according to the same Census data.

Despite increased hours on the job, longer commutes and steep living costs, wages have failed to keep pace. While nominal wages did increase from 2008 to 2018, inflation-adjusted wages are about the same as they were in 1978.

The result is that many Americans struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, feeling overworked and stressed. Researchers correlate long hours with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Conversely, studies show that supportive family relationships relieve stress and promote healthy behaviors and wellbeing in children.

When it comes to keeping a healthy balance between your work life and your home life, location matters. Researchers at Fabric, a company creating financial products for families, analyzed data for the 275 largest American metro areas.

To find out which areas have the best work-life balance, Fabric looked for the fastest commutes, the shortest average work weeks and the highest cost-of-living-adjusted incomes. That’s a calculation factoring in geographic differences in the prices of goods and services, to give a sense of how far an income will really get you in a certain area.

Metropolitan areas in the Midwest and the West dominate the final list. Here they are:


  • Overall score: 80.0

  • Median household income: $61,573

  • Median household income (adjusted): $67,663

  • Cost of living: 9% below average

  • Average time spent working: 37.9 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 21.7 minutes each way

The state capital of Illinois, Springfield offers workers a balance of favorable work hours and the lowest living costs on this list. For entertainment, the Springfield Park District boasts 41 parks, as well as Lake Springfield, the perfect destination for outdoor family activities such as hiking, biking, fishing and swimming. History buffs can tour Abraham Lincoln’s Presidential Museum, while theater aficionados can enjoy indoor and outdoor performances or drive-in movies.


  • Overall score: 80.1

  • Median household income: $79,705

  • Median household income (adjusted): $63,866

  • Cost of living: 25% above average

  • Average time spent working: 35.8 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 28.3 minutes each way

Love the sun? This California metro enjoys 250 days of sunshine a year, which residents celebrate with a variety of outdoor activities ranging from surfing to sunbathing. Santa Cruz is located in the picturesque Monterey Bay. Here, families can visit the National Marine Sanctuary to learn more about the plants and wildlife that inhabit the Pacific coast.

Santa Cruz has the highest cost of living on this list, at 25 percent above average, but that’s partially offset by high incomes. Santa Cruz residents work an average of 35.8 hours per week, well below the national average of 38.8 hours.


  • Overall score: 80.9

  • Median household income: $61,943

  • Median household income (adjusted): $67,476

  • Cost of living: 8% below average

  • Average time spent working: 37.8 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 21.4 minutes each way

Located northwest of the Twin Cities, the St. Cloud metro area has a Midwestern flair (including that small-town feel and cold winters). Walking trails, numerous theaters and proximity to the Mississippi River provide families with plenty to do—rain or shine. The low cost of living, which appeals to families, has contributed to population and economic growth in recent years. Since the metropolitan area is spread out, residents generally need a car to get around.

Credit: AndreyKrav / istockphoto

  • Overall score: 82.0

  • Median household income: $60,888

  • Median household income (adjusted): $63,624

  • Cost of living: 4% below average

  • Average time spent working: 36.5 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 20.6 minutes each way

Iowa City is a Midwestern hub of culture and education. The University of Iowa hosts the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop, and in 2008 Iowa City became the third city in the world to be designated a UNESCO City of Literature. The Iowa River flows through the city and offers opportunities for water sports during its hot summers. The cost of living in Iowa City is slightly below average, and workers only work an average of 36.5 hours per week.


  • Overall score: 82.3

  • Median household income: $71,106

  • Median household income (adjusted): $64,937

  • Cost of living: 10% above average

  • Average time spent working: 37.1 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 19.5 minutes each way

The Santa Maria-Santa Barbara metro area sits in the heart of California’s Central Coast Wine Country. As such, much of the local economy centers around agriculture and wine. The region has been nicknamed “The American Riviera” for its Mediterranean climate and stunning coastline. The proximity to beaches is great for families that enjoy spending time outside.

The average commute time is only 19.5 minutes, one of the fastest times on this list. Like most coastal areas, Santa Maria-Santa Barbara has a higher average cost of living than the U.S. overall, but also a higher median income.


  • Overall score: 83.1

  • Median household income: $71,510

  • Median household income (adjusted): $71,942

  • Cost of living: 1% below average

  • Average time spent working: 38 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 22.6 minutes each way

Salt Lake City is ideal for people who love the great outdoors. The area surrounding Salt Lake City boasts five national parks, multiple ski resorts and more than 400 miles of mountain biking trails. There’s plenty for kids to do, including the Discovery Gateway Museum, aviaries and zoos, city parks and the Clark Planetarium.

The cost of living in Salt Lake City hovers around the national average, while the median household income of $71,510 sits higher than the national median of $60,336. Meaning that families who live here may come out ahead! Employees in Salt Lake City work an average of 38 hours per week, just slightly less than the national average.


  • Overall score: 83.6

  • Median household income: $66,273

  • Median household income (adjusted): $66,942

  • Cost of living: 1% below average

  • Average time spent working: 37.5 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 19.8 minutes each way

Move over, Portland! The cities of Bend and Redmond are two Oregonian destinations that are perfect to visit and to live. Natural landmarks such as the Deschutes River Trail and Mount Bachelor offer plenty of options for outdoor recreation. Bend-Redmond sits far away from most major cities like Salem and Portland, providing residents with a haven from the hustle and bustle.

The cost of living is around the U.S. average, while median incomes are slightly higher. Residents work an average of 37.5 hours per week, but enjoy short commute times at an average of 19.8 minutes each way.


  • Overall score: 84.1

  • Median household income: $71,301

  • Median household income (adjusted): $72,980

  • Cost of living: 2% below average

  • Average time spent working: 38.1 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 22 minutes each way

Madison is home to four lakes, including Lake Mendota. That means ample opportunities for recreational activities such as kayaking, fishing, swimming and ice skating. For those who don’t enjoy water sports, the 1,200-acre UW-Madison Arboretum and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve provide other options. Madison residents work an average of 38.1 hours per week.

Suzanne Tucker/shutterstock

  • Overall score: 84.9

  • Median household income: $70,286

  • Median household income (adjusted): $69,043

  • Cost of living: 2% above average

  • Average time spent working: 37.1 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 24 minutes each way

Ann Arbor is the seat for the University of Michigan’s flagship campus, giving it a youthful feel. Young alumni and their families often settle in the area post-graduation, making it family friendly. College football games, art fairs, outdoor concerts and local parks offer plenty to do outdoors.

Meanwhile, public libraries with extensive children’s collections offer a haven for families in the winter. Ann Arbor is also highly educated; 74.2 percent of adults in Ann Arbor have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.9 percent in the country as a whole. Ann Arbor residents work an average of 37.1 hours per week.

Courtesy of wikimedia.org

  • Overall score: 86.0

  • Median household income: $63,353

  • Median household income (adjusted): $68,416

  • Cost of living: 7% below average

  • Average time spent working: 38.1 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 16.7 minutes each way

The largest population center in North Dakota, Fargo shares a border with Minnesota and the neighboring city of Moorhead. Historically, agriculture drove Fargo’s economy, but industries such as education, healthcare and technology now command a strong presence.

Fargo has a dedicated children’s museum, zoos and a growing arts scene, offering year-round entertainment. Fargo offers a below-average cost of living, and residents work an average of 38.1 hours per week. Fargo also has the shortest commute time on this list, at 16.7 minutes each way.


  • Overall score: 88.0

  • Median household income: $71,880

  • Median household income (adjusted): $67,115

  • Cost of living: 7% above average

  • Average time spent working: 36.3 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 21.5 minutes each way

Known by its acronym “SLO,” San Luis Obispo lives up to the name due to its laidback lifestyle. The rich farmland that surrounds SLO provides residents with fine California wine as well as some of the country’s freshest produce sold at local farmers markets.

Families living here can take advantage of ocean access at Pismo Beach, hiking trails at Bishop’s Peak, and the area’s many movie theaters and museums during their free time. The cost of living in San Luis Obispo is 7 percent higher than the national average, but residents only work an average of 36.3 hours per week.

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  • Overall score: 90.7

  • Median household income: $71,629

  • Median household income (adjusted): $75,320

  • Cost of living: 5% below average

  • Average time spent working: 37.3 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 22.7 minutes each way

Forty miles north of Salt Lake City, the Ogden-Clearfield metropolitan area offers families a spread-out, suburban atmosphere with the amenities of a large city. Mountains and ski resorts surround Ogden-Clearfield, making it ideal if you like to decompress outdoors.

In addition, the Ogden River Parkway, the Eccles Dinosaur Park and the Ogden Nature Center entice regular visitors. At $75,320, Ogden has the highest adjusted median household income on this list, though residents only work an average of 37.3 hours per week.

johnnya123 / istockphoto

  • Overall score: 92.4

  • Median household income: $65,936

  • Median household income (adjusted): $70,294

  • Cost of living: 6% below average

  • Average time spent working: 36.9 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 18.2 minutes each way

With short commutes and a lower-than-average cost of living, Bloomington is an excellent choice for families looking to balance their work life and home life. Bloomington offers more than 40 parks for outdoor recreation, as well as performance venues such as the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, U.S. Cellular Coliseum and Redbird Arena. Families can enjoy trips to Grady’s Family Fun Park, indoor ice rinks, the zoo and the Children’s Discovery Museum in the nearby city of Normal.

Courtesy of wikimedia.org

  • Overall score: 93.1

  • Median household income: $80,834

  • Median household income (adjusted): $74,228

  • Cost of living: 9% above average

  • Average time spent working: 36.6 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 23.7 minutes each way

Boulder offers a sunny climate and a variety of outdoor activities. Residents enjoy hiking on Green Mountain and bike riding on Boulder’s extensive trail network. Many in Boulder are concerned about the environment, so farm-to-table restaurants, vegan/vegetarian dining and recycling facilities are easy to find.

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  • Overall score: 96.4

  • Median household income: $70,196

  • Median household income (adjusted): $72,517

  • Cost of living: 3% below average

  • Average time spent working: 35.2 hours per week

  • Average time spent commuting: 22.3 minutes each way

In recent years, Provo-Orem has become a hub for technology companies and startups, especially in the Riverwoods business district. Provo hosts Brigham Young University, which gives it a college town atmosphere. Orem, on the other hand, is a more family-oriented community.

Film festivals, cultural celebrations and hiking trails provide plenty to do in the evenings and on weekends. Compared to the other areas on this list, Provo-Orem has the lowest average time spent working, at 35.2 hours per week, and offers a high adjusted median income.

This article originally appeared on MeetFabric.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Featured Image Credit: blackCAT/istockphoto.