It’s Time to Prioritize Your Work-Life Balance

Published March 13, 2024


When was the last time you prioritized your work-life balance?

Used to describe the split between dedicating our energy to work and to our personal lives, work-life balance can often feel challenging to maintain. In these modern times, technology keeps us tied to our jobs even when we’re not at our workplaces, making it difficult to fully direct our attention to our life obligations.

The negative consequences of long work hours are well-known. Recent studies have found that people who work more than 55 hours every week are 1.66 times more likely to get depression and 1.74 times more likely to suffer from anxiety. Furthermore, long work hours can have a negative impact on personal relationships, life goals, and overall happiness. And yet, even though we know these negative effects, we still struggle to make time for ourselves.

Dedicating attention and resources toward maintaining a better work-life balance may help your overall health in the long run. While adding more activities to your already busy workload may seem counterintuitive, making time for yourself can be an investment in helping clear out the chaos. We’ve curated a list of our top courses to help you solve your challenges and foster a better work-life balance.


Understand the Science of Happiness and How to Find It

Can understanding the science of happiness help us seek out more of the emotion and become an overall happier person? Our course Managing Happiness uncovers this question and dives into the modern science of human well-being. Led by world-renowned author and social scientist Arthur Brooks, this course can be completed at your own pace.



Navigate Flexible Work Arrangements

Now, more than ever, hybrid or remote working arrangements are considered commonplace. Remote work requires trust, collaboration, and connection to succeed – all traits that are vital when prioritizing work-life balance and maintaining personal boundaries. Our course Remote Work Revolution for Everyone, led by Harvard Business School Professor and remote work expert Tsedal Neeley, can help you learn how to excel in these unique work arrangements. 

Address the Difficulty of Stress and Anxiety

If you’re already feeling the negative effects of a lack of work-life balance, you may need to first address feelings of stress, burnout, or anxiety. These symptoms make it extra challenging to find a way forward, but learning how to manage them can make managing other areas of your life easier. In our course Building Personal Resilience: Managing Anxiety and Mental Health, Harvard Medical School faculty Dr. Luana Marquez walks you through using core components of applied psychology to recognize your emotions and create a plan to transform those feelings.

Leading a Team? Become a Mindful Leader

If you’re in charge of a team or direct report, your approach to work-life balance may be impacting how others approach the practice. Do you micromanage your team’s tasks? Do you reward long hours put in at the office? Do you frown upon time off (even subtly)? These actions imply a negative relationship with work-life balance and may be impacting your team’s attitude towards the concept. We know that long hours and rigorous work environments can lead to negative outcomes. Embrace a more mindful approach to work and see how it impacts your team’s performance. Consider starting with one of our leadership courses, depending on your management focus. Leaders across the board may benefit from our course Exercising Leadership, led by Harvard Kennedy School faculty Ronald Heifetz.

Leaders in the public sector may find more relevant examples in our course Strategy Execution for Public Leadership, led by former Pentagon Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach, where we dive into case studies from government and non-profit leadership.

Leaders in the health care industry can explore how organizational teamwork can lead to more quality care and better outcomes in our course Innovations in Teamwork for Health Care, led by Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Assistant Professor Michaela Kerrissey.


Try Something Just for Fun

While there’s a benefit in working on yourself and learning skills that can help you better prioritize work-life balance, the whole essence of the concept is to embrace life and enjoy your time – thus leading to less stress and burnout. What does fun look like to you? If you had time, what would you do just for fun?

If you need something more structured, consider taking a course in something completely unrelated to your professional work. Some of our favorites include:

  • Shakespeare’s Life, Work, and Characters courses, a four-part series of courses exploring the biographical history, cultural significance, and dramaturgy of William Shakespeare’s life and work.
  • The Science of Cooking courses, a three-part series examining the scientific concepts at the basis of all our modern cooking.
  • Classical Works courses, a four-part series taking an aural journey through 17th to 20th century Europe including the works of Monteverdi, Handel, Beethoven, Berlioz, and more.

Regardless of which path you take, make time to prioritize your work-life balance. If nothing else, you may find that taking time for yourself can, in turn, benefit your work performance and help you avoid long-term burnout.

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