Tips on how to achieve work-life balance.

Woman working late on laptop and taking notes

How to balance work and personal life.

Whether you commute or work from home, managing the demands of your career while making time for a rewarding personal life is a delicate balancing act. And striking the right balance is a very personal matter. Read on for help developing a “work-life balance how-to” strategy of your own:

How can I improve my work-life balance?

  1. Streamline your routine. Look at how you spend your days, and when possible, cut out or reduce the number of activities that are sapping your time and energy.
  2. Ditch multitasking. When we jump from task to task, we aren't really getting more done. We’re forcing our brains to constantly switch gears. The result is that we work harder to do things at a lower level of quality and exhaust our mental reserves.
  3. Build downtime into your schedule. If trying to do it all keeps you from getting enough rest, your work performance could suffer.
  4. Take a break from the office. Walks and coffee breaks are a good way to decompress and get away from screen time.
  5. Set boundaries. Establishing a firm cutoff time for answering emails or taking work-related calls can reduce the pressure, so you can focus on what matters most at the end of the day—being there for your family.
  6. Create a budget. The goal is to have money left over that you can add to an emergency savings cushion, so you can worry less about your finances and focus more on enjoying family time and doing the things you love.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you have a healthy work-life balance, you’re able to do a good job at work while simultaneously maintaining good relationships with family members and friends, with some time left over for outside interests.

When work begins to damage your health or interfere with your relationships with family and friends, your work-life balance has entered treacherous territory. Economic problems often contribute to a poor work-life balance. If someone has to work two jobs to get by, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It can also be extremely difficult to balance work and life if your job is interfering with what should be your leisure time.


Stay-at-home parents can also have problems maintaining a healthy balance. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, make sure you maintain a few interests outside the home (or a wide variety of interests inside it). Otherwise, life could begin to feel dreary and repetitive.

If you’re working 55 hours a week or more, start thinking about ways to cut back. A study from the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization has found that working 55 hours a week or more is associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared with people who work 35 to 40 hours a week.1


Most people can balance work and life if they work 35 to 40 hours a week. Those working more than 40 but less than 55 hours a week are in uncertain territory. A well-paid executive with a partner who willingly takes on most household tasks may manage long hours with ease. A single parent could be overwhelmed. Take your own inventory and assess the maximum number of hours you can work while still striking a reasonable work-life balance. If that inventory results in the conclusion that too many hours are needed to do your current job properly, start looking for another job, either inside your present workplace or outside it.

For many people, working from home makes it easier to strike a healthy work-life balance. For others, however, working from home makes it difficult to leave the job behind at the end of the workday. People sometimes feel guilty about time when (perhaps distracted by household issues) they worked at less than full speed, and they try to make up for it at the end of the day.


The solution? Make a specific area your workspace. Spend your workday there, and stay away from it when your workday ends. If you’re feeling guilty about the half hour you spent helping your daughter with her homework, put in an extra half hour at the end of the day. But when that half hour is over, shut down your computer and leave your workspace. 


Want to learn more about financial strategies?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.

1Ian Haynes, “The Cost of Multitasking: How Much Productivity Is Lost Through Task Switching?” Wrike, October 9, 2020.