As you get bogged down in the demands of your job, it's easy to forget the main reason you work: To have money to make your life better. Finding the right work-life balance can make you more productive at work while you feel more at ease and less stressed at home. That balance isn't the same for everyone, but many employers do offer work-life balance options to their employees.
A flexible schedule can help you work your work around the rest of your life, rather than trying to fit life in around work. Most people think of a 9-to-5 job, but you can squeeze in eight hours at different times. A flexible schedule can be one that lets you come in any time between 7 and 10 a.m. to get your hours. Not an early riser? Clock in at 10 a.m. When you need to work in that pesky dentist appointment, come in at 7 a.m. so you can leave early without asking for time off. This can also include compressed schedules, where you fit in your 40 hours in four, 10-hour days each week, for example, letting you get your weekend started early.
Many employers are wary of telecommuting because they think it's difficult to manage people who work from home. However, telecommuting doesn't have to be full time. Workplaces often split the difference, allowing employees to work from home some while requiring them to trudge into the office part of the week as well. This can allow you to roll out of bed and work in your jammies a couple of days while you recharge and prepare yourself for the commute the next day. The lack of a commute can free up time for you to catch up on your chores or cook a fancy dinner, although you must practice self-discipline to get in your required number of hours from home.
Healthy employees are often happy employees, and an on-site gym is a perk that offers convenience while it encourages an active lifestyle. This gives you the flexibility to work out during lunch, or to come in early or stay late to hit the gym without taking the extra time to drive across town. If your employer allows friends or spouses to use the gym as well, you can spend quality time with them without feeling like you're sacrificing your health -- there's no need to choose between working out or getting in your girl time.
Taking a sick day or a week of vacation is the traditional way of thinking. However, there's a new time-off sheriff in town: The hourly leave bank. Instead of counting your leave time by days and type, such as one sick day or two days of vacation, you can find a better work-life balance by using a single bank of leave time that's calculated in hours. The amount of time should be the same, equivalent to two weeks of vacation and six sick days, for example. But you can take the leave time for any reason, without qualifying it as sick or vacation time, in hour-long increments. This gives you the flexibility to leave early on Friday for your long weekend without the need to waste eight full hours. It also means you can leave early to go to the doctor or get ready for your mom's birthday party without the need to make up the hours later in the week.
Finding a work-life balance can come in many forms, including something as simple as having an assigned parking spot so you don't have to stress about finding a spot every morning. It can be a major perk such as on-site daycare, or it can be small rewards that your entire family can enjoy, such as restaurant or movie gift cards. These help turn your focus back to your life instead of just to work, making you more motivated to be productive in the long run.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.