Young Alumni: How to develop your own approach to work-life balance

For those of us new to the job market, seeking meaningful and sustainable work is a priority — but it’s not the only one. Finding balance between our professional and personal lives is just as important.

Work-life balance is increasingly at a premium for job applicants and seasoned professionals alike. While it is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship with your job, work-life balance is not just about shutting down your laptop at five o’clock. Rather, it is a personal, ongoing process that may need adjustment as your priorities and responsibilities change.

When working toward a sense of professional balance, consider what is most important to you. For some, it may be a sense of separation between personal life and work life. This is especially important in our increasingly hybrid world, as home offices can blur the boundaries between work and leisure. For others, a sense of freedom to work when and how they want may be their top priority. Rather than separation, they may seek an integration of their work and personal lives, interspersing blocks of productivity with breaks or other responsibilities.

What you want and need will likely change over time, and different periods of your life may call for different types of balance. Ultimately, finding work-life balance should be a collaborative process that is helpful for you, your family, and your organization. Here are four steps to take to develop your own approach to work-life balance:

  1. Set Priorities: Where is your time best spent? How can you structure your time in order to not only be productive at work, but to have space for other activities you enjoy and value?
  2. Assess Your Meetings: Where do you really need to be? Where can you add the most value with the amount of time you have? It may be helpful to discuss this with your manager in order to optimize each of your schedules.
  3. Establish Boundaries: Block time out for certain tasks. You may need to schedule times on your calendar when you don’t want to be interrupted by colleagues or clients (or family members). In addition, decide when to step away from technology. In our digital world, we can constantly be connected with our team — but it’s also important to detach sometimes.
  4. Take Time Off: Recharging is critical. Forgoing vacation time should not be seen as a badge of honor. Allowing yourself to take breaks and reset is beneficial for you and your organization, and a good manager will thank you for it.

In addition to these steps, you can also consider work-life balance during the job search. To determine how an employer supports their employees’ personal lives and wellbeing, talk to current and past employees of the organization about what it’s like to work there. Later in the interview process, it may be helpful to share that a sense of balance is something that you value. When you do land a position, work with your manager to establish times when you are expected to be available and when you can disconnect.

No matter how you seek balance in your life, know that it will be an ongoing commitment that requires reflection and revision. While it may seem elusive at times, work-life balance is a process that you can — and should — invest in.

Still have questions about your own work-life balance? Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle is available to help with any career questions you have. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.