In a 2018 World Happiness Report, Japan was ranked 71st among the happiest countries in the world, with only South Korea ranked as low among the most developed countries in the world (at no.57). Naturally, it would be difficult to fathom why these two immensely wealthy countries with tremendous human capital and very little of anything called poverty would be unhappy; after all, money seems to be the key index that most humans peg their happiness on. According to The App Solutions study, burnout is a significant factor of unproductivity in companies (about 20-50% of annual employee turnover), instigated by work-life imbalance. Work-life balance is simply the ability to achieve a sense of wholesomeness and well-roundness between the various parts of daily life such as work, family, health, emotional and personal growth. The result is happier, more productive societies and a better sense of purpose and belonging.

Here are a few tips to give you an edge and keep you satisfied even under unbounded pressure.

Know What Works, when it Works for You

Think about how much time you split between work, family, social life, leisure activities and other personal interests, and how flexible or inflexible you are regarding each of these. These directly determine your work-life balance. The main argument that most people give is that they don’t have enough time for anything other than work or family. Another grave mistake that a lot of people make is trying to split equal time between all these activities, which is right next to impossible. Allocating enough time to each of these individual needs starts with knowing and prioritizing what is most important.

Just like a great diet, it doesn’t have to be “4 hours” for work, family, etc., rather finding what works best for your schedule. It isn’t strange that some people who don’t have families can’t seem to find a healthy balance. In retrospect, others with families and kids appear happier, balanced and more content. The key is finding a rhythm for every activity at the moments which you feel work best for you.

Don’t Strive for Perfection

Most of us lose it because we aim for perfection which can never be achieved, unless by sheer luck. Success isn’t built overnight; it is a culmination of efforts not necessarily limited to work. When you make your job the focal point of why you wake up in the morning, you are setting yourself up for failure. Achievement without any kind of enjoyment is often lackluster, and this is why societies like Japan and China are so low in happiness indices. Instead, you should enjoy the drive to achieve success, whether it takes a night or 10 years. This doesn’t mean you should be overtaken by laziness, rather avoid overdoing anything.

Focus on Daily Goals as Part of the Long-Term Plan

This is one attribute that most people lack. Instead of trying to stick to inflexible long-term goals that are subject to variables and influences beyond your control, break everything down into shorter-term goals, the results of which can be easily seen. For example, you could set goals in your diary to spend two hours with your family in the evening, or one hour of exercise at dawn. While you are potentially spending less time on work, the effect on your healthboth mentally and emotionallyis unparalleled in benefit.

Don’t Bring Work Home

“There is a deadline to beat,” or “my boss is on my case.” All these are excuses to make yourself more miserable, and ironically, might end up making you achieve less. Just like a kid who is stressed out with schoolwork, the quality of your work greatly diminishes if you choose to continue your work after hours. This might be a bit more difficult for those who work from home, but with discipline, it isn’t nearly impossible.

Switch off Your Connections and Devices

This might single-handedly be the biggest reason why most people can’t disengage from work after hours. Those incessant notifications will keep you looking at your phone or laptop, and you might just end up spending an entire night trying to fix work-related issues. In the same vein, learn to say ‘no’ to office tasks that you feel might be taking up your quality or relaxation time. The allure of overtime or a “per diem” might be too great, and you may end up giving that Saturday family movie or vacation a berth. You’re only setting up yourself for a great big fall.

What’s Most Important to You?

That calendar exists to help you, with its primary function being to clearly stipulate what is most important at a particular moment. Use it to maximum effect. With your calendar (and notifications), you’ll always be reminded that there is an activity that needs your attention, and it can neither be dismissed nor postponed unless absolutely necessary. Your calendar tells you why you should be spending a certain number of hours on a specific activity and what the benefit of that time is. This all stems from you knowing and discerning what is most important to you, both for the short and long term.


If any activity that you engage in seems to be taking away from your work-life balance (regardless of your definition of this), it’s probably time to rethink how and when you do it. Also, don’t confine yourself to what works for other people. Just because you watched an Elon Musk YouTube video on how he only gets 4 hours of sleep a day and works for the remainder of the time doesn’t mean that you should do this too to be ultimately productive.

Find what works for you and achieve maximum contentment. Good luck!