Finding Jobs With The Best Work-Life Balance
Humans are biological machines -- and machines need maintenance. When you don’t change the oil in your car, wear-and-tear causes the engine to seize and stall. People are little different. We have basic physiological needs for things like food and shelter, but we also have psychological needs. We need friendship, family, and a sense of belonging. We want to feel in control of our lives. And when we don’t have those things, we run like an engine without oil.
Working hard is an important part of life, but you can’t allow it to come at the expense of your personal life. Striking a balance between your work and personal life can have a profound effect on your relationships, help, and sense of well-being. Consequently, a poor work-life balance will inevitably spill over into your performance at work.
Some jobs make it particularly difficult to find a work-life balance, while others make it easy. The trick is to know where to look, and what to look for. A good place to start is by taking our Career Planning Quiz to find out which jobs would be a good fit for you. Even if you don’t end up changing careers, there may be a few things you can learn to improve your current work-life balance.
Understanding The Importance of Work-Life Balance
Eventually, there are consequences to ignoring your needs. For workaholics, one of the more common results is called burnout. Burnout is a psychological collapse marked by depression, cynicism, and lethargy. Feeling exhausted and unmotivated, it can be difficult to recover from burnout and it can have a dire impact on your job performance. But long before experiencing burnout, a poor work-life balance can do considerable damage to your social life, personal life, and health.
Stress wreaks havoc on the immune system. It starts by triggering the production of hormones that elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. Consequently, chronic stress can literally cause disease. The relationship between job strain and the risk of heart disease is something that’s been understood for decades. Chronic stress can also make you fatigued, irritable, and unable to concentrate. That’s not a recipe for job success.
Taking home stress from work is one of the most common indicators of a poor work-life balance. If you can’t spend time with your friends and family without worrying about work, or if you frequently find yourself fretting work while in bed, then you likely have a poor work-life balance.
The importance of work-life balance is that it gives you a better perspective on what’s important in life. It allows you prioritize what’s really matters to you, and allows us you to give relationships the attention they deserve. Restoring balance is important for your health, the health of your relationships, and ultimately, your long-term happiness.
Jobs With The Best Work-Life Balance
Some jobs make it almost impossible to achieve a work-life balance. In parts of the software industry, developers endure “crunch time” to meet impending deadlines. A surgeon who’s on-call 70-hours a week may find themselves doing most of their sleeping in the staff lounge.
Recruiting: Jobs that offer a work-life balance are usually those which provide you with some degree of autonomy. For example, being a recruiter can be a great job for work-life balance. Recruiters are tasked with finding prospective talent that aligns with the needs of an organization. They shape the future of a company by finding, screening, and ultimately recommending candidates. Much of that work can be done remotely, providing many recruiters with a considerable degree of control over their schedule.
Research: Research positions are essentially the opposite of the software development scenario outlined above. Researchers tend to be working on larger problems over longer periods of time, they’re not typically tasked with pushing out a new product by the end of every quarter. Enjoying that kind of measured pace to your work has plenty of benefits. It means you’ll always be home in time for dinner, and it often means you’ll enjoy wonderfully flexible hours.
Risk Management and Insurance: You can find even more opportunities for work-life balance in the risk management and insurance industry. Claims adjusters largely work independently, investigating claims and appraising property values. Similarly, insurance agents endeavor to identify the unique needs of individuals, and then match them with suitable insurance. Careers like these help provide flexible schedules and remote work opportunities, making it far easier to achieve a work-life balance. Be sure to learn more about insurance career possibilities for a great work-life balance!
How To Find Work-Life Balance
Of course, you don’t have to change careers to make improvements to your work-life balance. Mastering balance is mostly a matter of effective time management.
Your priorities should be reflected in the time you spend on something. Try writing them down in a schedule, and keeping track of how you spend each hour. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I’ll have time for that later.” Scheduling is what allows you to make the time.
When constructing your schedule, it’s important to have realistic expectations about your time.
Don’t fill every moment with a task, and be sure to set aside free time for yourself. Downtime is important to your well-being, which will ultimately contribute to your productivity. That’s why your written schedule should incorporate work, exercise, personal time, and social time.
Hard work is an important part of success, but you can’t do your best work if you don’t take care of yourself first. Finding a good work-life balance is one of the tougher challenges any career-minded person can face, whether that balance comes from working from home or having other flexibility at a job. But the rewards of health, happiness, and self-fulfillment are well-worth the effort.