It’s not exactly a secret that America lags behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to paid vacation time. The United States is the only developed nation without guaranteed paid leave for wage-earners.
And Americans don’t use anything close to their meager allotment of vacation time. More than 765 million vacation days went unused last year in the United States, and some believe that’s a conservative estimate.
No wonder Americans feel so overworked and under-appreciated.
Short of quitting your job and finding an employer with a more generous PTO policy, is there anything you can do to improve your work-life balance?
Actually, yes. There is. Quite a bit, in fact. And you’ll be surprised to learn that many positive work-life changes are anything but disruptive. You can make them tomorrow, if you wish.
Here’s a closer look at the top six.
1. Enforce Mandatory “No Screens” Time Before Bed
According to science, blue light interferes with humans’ circadian rhythms, keeping us awake and alert when we should be sleepy. Blue light also seeps from smartphones, which contain your work email, Slack channels, and who knows what else. Keep your phone far, far away from your bedside.
2. Work Part-Time From Home (Or Pursue a New Opportunity Out of Your Home Office)
Shake things up by working from home one or two days a week, if your employer allows. Or use your home office to start a side business, such as freelance writing, social media management or fundraising distributing. Some types of home businesses can be quite lucrative. For example, sources at ABC Fundraising show that fundraising distributors can earn $500 to $5,000 or more per month while working from home (and avoiding the drudgery of the office).
3. Take Your Entire Lunch Break (And Don’t Eat at Your Desk)
Take all 30 minutes? That’s impossible! Except it’s not. It’s your right, no matter what your boss says otherwise.
4. Set Your Phone to “Do Not Disturb” Mode in the Evening and Overnight
Even before tossing your phone under the sofa cushion for the night, set it to “do not disturb” mode. Those evening emails and texts can wait until the morning.
5. Be Honest About Your Personal Responsibilities
You’ve got ‘em — kids, parents, volunteering, friends in need. Whatever they are, your extracurricular responsibilities coexist with your professional ones. Make sure your bosses know about them. They’ll understand — and if they don’t, maybe it’s time to find a new job.
6. Become Your Office’s Party Captain (But Don’t Go Too Far)
Always know where the line is. Don’t even approach it.
No fun? Actually, there’s plenty of room in the modern workplace for a “safe for work” party captain. Last we checked, happy hours were still legal. Be the person who takes the initiative to organize your office’s weekly outing.
Reclaim the “Life” in Your Work-Life Balance
Any of these changes could noticeably improve your work-life balance. As a package deal, they could be just what you need to break out of the professional rut in which you find yourself — beleaguered by nonstop work and desperate for something new. Now that you know what’s needed to turn the tables and reclaim the “life” in your work-life balance, the only question left to answer is: when can you start?
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