I've found that it's much easier to get buried in work than to get buried in life. While this might be alright in the short-term, it damages you and your important relationships. We need to work, absolutely, but we must be human too, completely human.
You have a body, so take care of it. When you're so stressed and overworked that you don't realize what you're eating, you're not maintaining work-life balance. Nutrition is one of the first things to suffer when we overwork and/or overstress. You should also be moving, staying active. I'm not saying you need to run marathons of climb mountains, but you need to move your body in a way that keeps you healthy and reduces your stress. Get away from screens from time to time. Go for a walk, hopefully with someone you care about. Go to the gym. Do something more than type, because movement keeps you healthy and balanced.
You have a mind, so try to be mindful. Try to be present in your body and with the people around you. When you eat a quick dinner with loved ones, and spend your time thinking about your work assignments (not your food or your companions), you are neither present nor balanced. Read. Something good, not just work-related material like reports. How about reading a magazine or a book? Engage your mind outside of work by filling it up with interesting things. Talk to interesting people. They are right in front of you, and all around you. Listen to what they say.
You have a spirit, so tap into it. It will make you not only more productive but might actually (gasp!) make you happier. Know that neither you nor your work are at the center of the universe. Like it or not, most people don't know or care about your work-related issues. I happen to like that. Whether you've had a productive day at work or not, the world just keeps on spinning. People will be happy. They will suffer. They will be creative and procreative, and troubled and joyous. They will dance and cry. So will you. Believe in something larger than yourself, no matter what that something is. Compassion is in short supply these days. We don't offer it to ourselves or others nearly enough. Anything that takes you out of your own head, your own thoughts, is a gift.
I sometimes go and watch birds. They make beautiful music. I saw a red cardinal yesterday from my porch and a wild turkey last week while hiking. They took my breath away, and helped me understand what I like in this world. Meditate, pray, listen, remain calm, think before you speak.
You have relationships that you need. Yes, they can be tough to navigate at times. You can be too, as can I. Like it or not (I happen to like it), we need each other. Value yourself, but value your family, your friends, the people who you interact with, and other people you don't even know. We're all in this together. They need you, and vice versa. Be there. Listen, especially when you want to turn away. Work is ultimately about relationships, so foster them. Yes, you can be a jerk sometimes or make dumb mistakes. Me too. Apologize and seek forgiveness. You will need it, so be ready to offer it.
Work-life balance gives us the ability to fully explore who we are, to understand things about ourselves that we wouldn't otherwise know unless we'd taken the time. Take the time. Don't get buried constantly in work. For instance, I like being outdoors near the sea or in the forest. The landscape calms me and restores me to myself, no matter the stress I'm feeling. Being balanced and being creative come from the same source, a focus on what drives you and moves you. Empty your head. Maybe TV does that for some of us, or playing sports, or walking a dog, or tending a garden, or spending time with a loved one. Whatever daily practices restore you are the daily activities you need to pursue, no matter what is happening at work.
It's so easy to look up from work and find ourselves utterly lost. I've done it too many times to recount, and it's been bad for me in so many ways. You pay a price when you lose your balance. As I've gotten a bit older, having made almost all the mistakes, I'm getting better at prioritizing work-life balance. We need to do it, to understand that when we choose too-much-work we are also making sacrifices that we often can't afford to make. And yes, I know finances are important too. None of this balancing act is easy, but I do know it's essential. A balanced person has a better life and a better work-life too, largely because we understand more about the world when we're whole. Easier said than done.
How do you maintain work-life balance, dear reader?