For most people, work is a necessary means to keeping a roof over their heads and living somewhat comfortably. But while work is essential for earning income, it isn't everything – and it shouldn't be treated that way.
"In our digitally driven world, it's imperative to maintain a work-life balance," Jackie Stone, CMO of personal cloud storage company MiMedia told Business News Daily. "I've worked in digital media for more than 20 years, and as we become more connected, more people have decided that staying 'on' 24/7 is socially acceptable – and it's not."
People need time to think, relax and give themselves a break: Otherwise, productivity will decrease, she added.
But you also don't need to draw a definitive line between your work and your personal life to achieve a happy balance. Balance isn't about building an impenetrable wall between your personal and professional lives, but finding ways to connect and integrate the two.
"I believe that work and life could be balanced when your work is treated … [like] a big part of your life, and you can incorporate portions of your family, entertainment and relaxing life into your work," said Elizabeth Dulberger, founder of Dulberger Group.
Here are six ways to feel more in control of your work-life balance.
1. Set boundaries
You need boundaries to achieve balance between your personal and professional lives. However, the subject doesn't have to be broached as completely black and white.
In their speaking series CEO Real Talk, entrepreneurs and business experts Garnett Newcombe and Kay Woods frequently cover the topic of work-life balance, and acknowledge that it's difficult to navigate the high demands of both career and home responsibilities.
Newcombe and Woods told Business News Daily that employees often lack the ability to prioritize and balance their work and family life. Workers also have trouble overcoming the guilt of working long hours and accepting the need for individual personal time.
"People are so afraid to set their boundaries or ask these types of questions for fear that they will be disliked and will be considered [disloyal] to the position," added Dulberger.
However, executives often respect workers for setting flexible yet strict boundaries, she said: "When you put yourself first, you are better equipped to manage people and give people what they need."
2. Recognize the role of work
Work plays a significant role in one's life. Adopting the right mindset about it – that is, understanding and appreciating all the things your income affords you – allows you to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than making your job seem like endless drudgery, Newcombe said.
It's also important to recognize your influencers in the workplace. "The more politically aware you are, the better you understand who needs to see your appreciation and who needs to feel your dedication to the company," said Dulberger. "Once you identify the key influencers, make sure you express (usually with actions) that you are here for the long haul and feel that this is your place."
Practicing and expressing gratitude for your job and your partners will create a sense of belonging among colleagues, which can generate a familial culture.
3. Don't be afraid to unplug
We live in a connected world that never sleeps. Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space to so other thoughts and ideas emerge, Stone said.
"When you are always on, you don't allow other things to surface that might be more important," she added. "I meditate each morning for 10 minutes, which provides me with a great start to my day."
Sometimes, truly unplugging means taking a vacation and shutting work completely off for a while.
"A vacation could be a 15-minute walk around the block without looking at your phone, or a vacation could be two or three weeks traveling with family/friends," Stone said. "It's important to take a step back to physically and mentally recharge. If you are surrounded by good people at work, a vacation should be easy to take."
4. Create (and stick to) a daily routine
Like maintaining a calendar, implementing a strong daily routine will keep you on track to achieve the balance you want. According to Lewis Howes, entrepreneur and author of "The School of Greatness" (Rodale Books, 2015), setting strong habits, such as sleeping eight hours, not checking your email for the first couple hours of the day, getting outside daily and taking time to eat right and work out, will make you healthier and happier.
"It will absolutely reflect in your mental clarity, emotional capacity, relationships and creativity," Howes said. "Those are the traits that make up the greatest leaders and most successful people."
5. Make time for yourself
While your job is important, it shouldn't be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position, and you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that made you happy.
"Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or [take] a hot bath, it's important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself," said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Sevenstep RPO(Recruitment Process Outsourcing).
"When [we] hire, we ask about [details like] books being read by the applicant. It shows that they have interests outside of work life," said Monique Tatum, CEO of Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR.
Tatum suggests reading, traveling and fostering hobbies that have nothing to do with your career.
6. Be present, consistent and accountable
Being present requires you to be attentive at home, at work and during free time, Woods said. Where you spend your time and energy has a direct connection to how successful you are in achieving work-life balance.
"It's so easy to get caught up working, but it's so important to spend time with family, friends or other people who bring joy into our lives," Stone said. "Though it might not seem obvious at first, the memories that we create while spending time with those we love help spark new ideas and ways of thinking."
Dulberger added, "This is why it's called a balance: one area cannot be overwhelmingly more important to you than the other to some degree."