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8 Ways to Improve Work Life Balance for Millennials

Millennials are easily the first generation that really has to focus on finding and maintaining work life balance.

Why is that?

It’s because we are the first generation of working age to have access to work at all hours of the day via these little computers we keep on our bodies at all times- the cell phone. Even if it isn’t on your phone, you likely have the internet and access to work from home. In a culture that is productivity driven, we slipped into this relatively easily and unnoticed. But now, the effect that a lack of work life balance has on our bodies is making itself known.

Hi, I’m Kaylin. I’m a licensed therapist and stress management coach. I want to give you 8 tips to improve your work life balance… and maybe encourage you to quit your job if it isn’t working for you anymore. Keep reading!

What is work life balance for millennials?

First of all, let's talk about what work life balance is. I consider work life balance to be the ability to spend time at work, doing your job, and to spend time outside of work, doing your life. This can be anything from spending time with family, friends, loved ones, by yourself, hobbies, travel; time doing whatever it is that you like to do. This time is somewhat separate from sleeping and eating and other biological needs, but not always. Biological needs are just the baseline of time outside of work.

Is work life balance for millennials possible?

I believe that balance is possible, although maybe not how you think. As with anything, it isn’t going to be a perfect 50/50 split. There will be times when work take more time and there should be times when life takes up more time- and finding the flow and rhythm between the two is your balance. Because of this, it will look different for everyone. There are many factors that go into work life balance for millennials- type of job, location, passion, physical health and ability, mental health and ability, age, gender, etc etc…

With that being said- let's get to the tips to help you make it more possible in your own life.

  1. Set boundaries around your working hours. If you have a salaried position, it might feel like you are supposed to be on call at all hours of the day- you aren’t. You are still being paid for a certain amount of hours of work per week, with flexibility of working more when needed. This is an important distinction and mindset to adopt. If you have a big project and need to work more hours, that’s ok. If you need to go to the doctor or have an appointment during the day, that should also be ok. Your work culture will play into this as well. If everyone is expected to work 12 hours a day, but you were all hired on thinking it would be an 8 hour day, it is going to be much more difficult to hold these boundaries. If you have a positive work culture that supports employee health, then this shouldn’t be a big issue.

  2. Take your breaks. On a similar note to above- TAKE YOUR DAMN BREAKS. Even exempt employees are entitled to meal breaks (in California- check your own state laws). You may not be entitled to rest breaks, but if you are trying to work on balance, then you should still take those shorter, 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day. I can’t tell you how many people I have had to say this to- but use the restroom throughout your day! Make that trip to the bathroom your break. Walk the long way. Refill your water. Look out the window. Your eyes and brain are not meant to stare at a screen and work all day long. You will actually be able to focus better and be more productive if you take more short breaks throughout the day, drink water, and eat meals. So tell your boss you’re going for a walk in order to be a better employee.

  3. Work outside when you can. I am writing this blog as I sit on my patio in the sun, feeling the breeze and sun on my skin. It feels really good. I am still working but it is in a nicer environment. Some workplaces have outdoor areas that you may be able to work from. If you work from home, make it a priority to spend part of your time outside when the weather permits. This makes your workday feel a bit more balanced, which will add to that work life balance feeling.

  4. Turn off notifications or better yet- turn off the phone. If you have a separate phone for work, turn it off after a certain time of day and don’t turn it on until you are officially back on the clock. This is useful for those of you who find it difficult to maintain boundaries on your own, or if your work culture has people sending emails at all times of day or night. You can turn off notifications for certain apps, so anything that you use for work should be silenced. And in case you haven’t heard me say this yet- SLEEP WITH YOUR PHONE IN A DIFFERENT ROOM. This is directly related to work life balance for millennials, but it is a great practice for overall wellness and balance in life.

  5. Spend time doing what you love outside of work. If you don’t have hobbies or activities that you are doing outside of work, it is really easy to just keep working in order to pass the time and keep yourself busy. Schedule dinner with a friend, go on dates, go to a yoga class or other workout class, take pottery lessons. I am particularly fond of the activities that don’t leave your hands available to check the phone “just in case something important comes through.”

  6. Related to number 5, don’t let work be the bulk of your identity. You are so much more than whatever your job is! You deserve to have an identity outside of that. Your hobbies play into that identity. So again if you have nothing that you do or care about outside of work find something! Don’t be afraid to try new things.

  7. Get organized. Write out your schedule for the week. Include your working hours and your out-of-work-activities. Color code it and see if it feels balanced to you. If not, make adjustments. It is also good for your brain to have a place to put all of your plans instead of trying to use precious brain power to remember it all.

  8. If doing all of the above feels like a total stretch for you- number 8 might be just what you need. Check in and communicate with the people who need to know what you’re doing. Going for a run after work but know that your boss might need you? Let them know. Have to work late but have dinner plans with your partner? Let them know. Overcommunication is helpful and checking in shows people that you value their time. How does this lend itself to your work life balance? Because you will be less worried about people getting upset with you if you communicate with them. Clear boundaries make it easier to relate to people because clear boundaries are clear expectations.

Start practicing 1 or 8 of those, and you will be on your way to feeling like you have a much better balance between work and life. If you are unable to find balance because of external circumstances (high expectations at work, unhealthy or toxic work culture, etc…) keep reading.

How does the stress of not having work life balance affect you?

When you do not have a work life balance, it can cause higher stress levels. Stress can affect us in many different ways. Over time, without proper stress management, it can begin to wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.

You may experience:
  • Difficulty relaxing

  • A racing mind

  • Constant worry

  • Tension in the body

  • Irritability and snapping at loved ones

  • Never feeling good enough

  • Overwhelming sense of guilt

  • Getting sick whenever work slows down or you finally do take a vacation

  • Unfulfilling relationships

  • A sense of disconnection from your body

  • Disengagement or boredom from your life

This list is not all inclusive. If you have felt any of the above, really focusing on the 8 tips for work life balance is definitely the next step, and maybe considering a different work situation. I know that it isn’t always possible to just pick up and change jobs- but if you’ve tried to create balance and you are unable to because of outside factors, it might be time to consider moving on.

How to know when it is time to move on from a job?

Not having a manager or supervisor who is supportive of your work life balance, and discourages you from taking time off, or having boundaries about working hours, that might be a sign to move on.

If you have a job that claims to be 9-5, but people expect you to respond to emails at 8 or 9pm, that’s not a great environment for anyone’s mental health. Most things aren’t so important that they can’t wait until the morning.

If everything in your workplace is an emergency or a fire that needs to be put out, that’s not the healthiest environment to be in. Just knowing that you can take a random day off (or a planned day off) for your own health without having to worry about repercussions is a sign of a supportive environment.

Remember, the issue is that we used to be able to walk away from work- the phone lines, the emails, the meetings- they were all location dependent. Now we’ve become so location independent and many people are still working from their homes, that the separation has gone from being innate to being near impossible.

You can’t control what other people do, if someone else is sending emails at 9pm, that’s their choice. You need to make sure that you have an environment that allows you the space to not respond to that email until the next day.

If the work feels meaningless or there’s nothing that connects you to it anymore, that may also be a sign that it’s time to move on. There should always be at least one value that connects you to your work- and maybe that value is the fact that you are making money to support your family and that’s it. If you can’t even connect to the work on that level, then it isn’t doing you any good to stay at that job.

Another option that is available to you is to seek out the support of a coach or therapist. The block to work life balance might not actually be in your work itself, but in something deeper within you that affects how you relate to work.

I offer 1:1 support in this exact area! Please don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with me to see if we are a good fit to start working together. I specialize in helping overwhelmed millennial women to transform their relationship to stress by empowering them to feel more in control of their emotional wellness.


Want to read more?


Kaylin is smiling at the camera because she has work life balance

Kaylin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Stress Management coach. She created the Messy Authentic Newsletter to help others turn the chaos in their lives into an intentional lifestyle.

Kaylin is obsessed with all things wellness, and through her programs empowers millennial women to transform their relationship to stress so they can overcome self doubt and achieve their goals with confidence.

With an all virtual practice, Kaylin is able to provide therapy to anyone in the state of California, and can coach individuals located anywhere.

Learn more here and schedule a consultation call to work with Kaylin.

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