As ironic as it sounds, we live during the golden age of work-life balance.

The idea that pushing your workers to do 12-16h of hard labor might be cruel and counterproductive appeared in the early 20th century.

And thus, the 9-to-5 was born.

The term first appeared in the 60s and 70s through the Women’s Liberation Movement in the UK. The activists advocated for more flexible schedules, and maternity leave since women often were (and are) the primary caregivers of the children. 

FYI, they did not achieve much success there.

Returning to the present, companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of an excellent work-life balance for employees and employers. 

A good work-life balance can help to improve employee morale, reduce stress, and create a healthier and more productive working environment.

Studies have shown that employees who balance work and personal life have higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and more loyalty to their employers.

Greater creativity, better problem-solving skills, and improved communication skills are the added bonus.

Okay-okay, but what is work-life balance exactly?

What does a good work-life balance look like?

The term is as popular as it is elusive. And subjective.

The Canadian Department of Labor describes it as follows: 

“a self-defined, self-determined state of well-being that allows them to effectively manage multiple responsibilities at work, at home, and in their community; it supports physical, emotional, family, and community health, and does so without grief, stress or negative impact.”

This definition, though, doesn’t consider some biases we’re subject to. For example, we can internalize toxic company culture and normalize certain behaviors just because “that’s how things are done here.”

And though you’re the only person able to judge the level of your work-life balance, we want to give you some props to look at your current work life from an outsider’s perspective.

Signs of a Good Work-Life Balance

Before we start, the disclaimer.

We’re describing the big-picture. So, you can have a tough day, week, or even a month but still have a generally healthy relationship with work or vice versa.

In a healthy work-life arrangement, you should generally feel capable of productively working during the day and have plenty of energy for other activities once the workday ends. You don’t compromise on your family, health, or home duties for work.

You can maintain meaningful relationships with friends and family, as well as find time for relaxation and leisure.

Though it is, by all means, the perfect scenario, it’s achievable, or at least we can work on moving as close to it as possible.

The sure signs of a bad work-life balance

If you think what we’re describing is an unattainable utopia, maybe you should take a hard look at your current job.

A disbalance between work and personal life balance often manifests itself in feelings of burnout and exhaustion, ultimately harming our mental health.

 You may feel overwhelmed and overworked during the day and have little energy or enthusiasm for anything outside of work.

Some main signs of a bad work-life balance are:

  • Working extra hours or on weekends
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work
  • Feeling like you can’t take a break without consequences
  • Missing lunch
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Not engaging in hobbies or leisure activities
  • Feeling guilty about taking a vacation
  • Not taking sick leaves when ill
  • Feeling disconnected from family or friends


The unexpected signs

Work-life balance is a continuum. It’s easier to notice the extremes. But most of us would be somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for improvement.

Here are some sneaky signs that you might have room for such improvement:

You feel the need to compensate for the day at work

If you come home after work, wanting to relax but having FOMO of ‘missing out on life,’ that could signify a disbalance between your job and personal life.

You can’t relax during the weekend or on vacation

If you cannot switch from work mode to play mode, you might be 

  • not taking enough regular breaks 
  • experiencing high-stress levels for prolonged period

You have regular episodes of binge-watching, gaming, or drinking

If work constantly takes up too much ‘core memory’ in your brain, you can still be stressed long after hours.

Binges of various kinds are often coping strategies that we use to decompress and override that work stress. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

You judge your colleagues for not working hard enough

A surprising side-effect of sacrificing your personal life is… judgment that others don’t do the same or recognize your martyrdom. 

However, sometimes, it’s better not to be a martyr in the first place.

You often procrastinate during work hours and have to make up for it later

No, you are not lazy. You’re just tired, unmotivated, or have other legitimate reasons. 

So, getting off the guilt train and treating the root cause is better.

You often over-commit and then have to crunch to fulfill

Sometimes it’s corporate culture and sometimes our inner beliefs. But it’s over-commitment if you systematically can’t deliver on your promises on time without sacrifice

And it’s better to re-examine what brings you to this point repeatedly.



Finding your way to work-life zen can be a career-long journey. 

As our jobs and lives change, so do the definitions and strategies to get there. And so do the trends in the work environment.

Wherever you are on this journey, don’t be discouraged, and remember, the result is worth the effort.


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