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Balance your work and life

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When your work-life balance is out of synch, you may find that you never have enough time for the things you need to do... or the things you love to do.

At work, you may worry about your home life. At home, you may worry about your job. This cycle upsets your work-life balance.

Do you ever feel that:

  • you always have more and more work to do at your job?
  • too many people depend on you every day?
  • you never have enough time for your family or friends?
  • you never have time for hobbies or things you enjoy?
  • each second of your day is scheduled?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, take steps at work and at home to get your life into balance.

Manage your time

Hands typing on a laptopFocus on what's most important to you. Taking on too much can wear you out. Learn to say "no" and let go of things that do not matter.

Set one small goal at a time. Use a day planner. Break large projects into smaller ones.

Ask for help. Let your children, spouse, coworkers, and others help you get things done.

Leave your job at the office. Don't give up free time to get more work done. If your job offers a flexible work schedule, use it to fit your own work style.

Unplug. Do not let technology (such as your cell phone or the Internet) erase the line between your time and your employer's time.

Reduce job stress

Job stress can be caused by:

  • pressure and deadlines
  • heavy workloads or long hours
  • not being allowed to make decisions
  • health and safety hazards
  • feeling you may lose your job
  • unclear or changing job duties
  • too much responsibility
  • work that is very tiring or boring

Lowering your job stress can get your life back in balance.

Consider talking with your boss to change things. There are some things that you may not be able to control. But even a few small changes might help lower your stress.

Take advantage of programs at work

Happy employees are shown to be more productive at work. That's why many companies have programs to help maintain your work-life balance.

Programs may include:

  • flexible schedules and hours
  • time off for family reasons, education, or community service
  • being able to work from home
  • employee assistance programs to provide counseling
  • child-care programs

Even if your company does not have an official program, you may be able to get flexible hours, time off, or the ability to do some work from home.

Know when to quit

If you're truly unhappy because of a stressful job, and if the suggestions here haven't worked, it may be time to think about changing jobs or changing careers.

But before you quit, take time to research other job options. Getting another job before you quit is best, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Decide what is less stressful for you — unemployment or being unhappy in your current job.

It might help to talk with a counselor about your choices.

Reviewed by: Andrew Bertagnolli, PhD and Craig Robbins, MD, July 2013
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2013 Kaiser Permanente