Skip to content

Getting Your Work Life Balance in Check *BEFORE* You Start Your First Job

Getting Your Work Life Balance in Check *BEFORE* You Start Your First Job
When you successfully find the balance, you’re able to meet your professional goals while also taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health – which is the dream for us all!


Starting your first job is an exciting milestone (go you!), but it also comes with a *lot* of new challenges – especially when it comes to maintaining a good work-life balance. Transitioning from being a student to being a full-time employee can be overwhelming, but with some preparation, you can manage your time effectively and set boundaries to ensure you maintain your social life as well as nail your professional responsibilities. 


What is Work-Life Balance?

Put simply, it’s the balance between your work responsibilities and personal life (makes sense, right?) – and it’s super important for your overall well-being and job satisfaction. When you successfully find the balance, you’re able to meet your professional goals while also taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health – which is the dream for us all!

Sounds great, right? Now it’s time to make sure it can happen. We’ve put together a guide to help you create a work-life balance plan BEFORE you embark on your first job.


Step 1: You need to go into your job with some clear boundaries in place!

One of the most important steps in maintaining work-life balance is setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life. This means defining when you are available for work and when you are off the clock. Here’s the easiest way to do it:

  • • Create a Schedule: Designate specific times for work, catching up with friends/family, hobbies, and other activities. The most important part? Sticking to this schedule as much as possible to create a routine that supports balance!
  • • Communicate Your Availability: Let your employer and colleagues know your working hours and when you are unavailable. This sets expectations and helps prevent work from taking over your personal time. This becomes really important if you’re working part-time or freelancing to ensure you’re not constantly online when you aren’t paid to be! 
  • • Separate Work and Personal Spaces: If you are working from home, create a dedicated workspace that you can leave at the end of the day (shut that door!). This physical separation can help you mentally switch off from work and not be tempted to jump back onto your laptop for “just one more quick email!”.


Step #2 It’s time to get good at prioritisation.

To achieve balance, you need some killer time management skills (and you can read our time management guide here) – and to have those, you need another skill: Prioritising. If you’ve never been good at prioritising, here are three tips to get you started:

  • • Make To-Do Lists: Start each day by listing the tasks you need to accomplish. Rank them by priority to ensure you tackle the most important tasks first (and don’t move on to the next task until you’ve finished what you’re on!).
  • • Use Time Management Techniques: Techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique (working in focused sections with breaks) or time blocking (giving specific blocks of time for different tasks) can help you stay productive and on track.
  • • Delegate Tasks When Possible: If you have too much on your plate, don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to others. This is especially important in a team setting where collaboration is key (trust us, your employer will prefer you spread the load rather than burn out trying to manage it all on your own!).


Step #3 Practice saying “no” (and sticking to it!).

As you start your first job, you may feel the pressure to say yes to every ask or opportunity (we’ve been there!). However, taking on too much can lead to stress and burnout – and you’ll definitely be saying goodbye to work-life balance! One of the most important skills for maintaining balance is learning to say no. Here’s how:

  • • Assess Your Capacity: Before agreeing to take on extra jobs or projects, look at your current workload and capacity. If you’re already stretched thin, it’s okay to decline or negotiate the deadline. 
  • • Be Honest and Respectful: When you need to say no, be honest about your reasons and respectful in your delivery. For example, you might say, “I can definitely help out with that, but I’m not available to get it to you by early next week as I’m already committed to working on another project until Friday”.


Step #4 Look after yourself!

Self-care is another important part of work-life balance – we’re talking about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health to make sure you have the energy and resilience to meet your work and personal responsibilities. Here are some self-care practices to start incorporating into your daily routine:

  • • Exercising Regularly: Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and boost your mood. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to consistently – whether that’s just going for a walk around the block, or becoming a cross-fit regular! Find something that works for you and gets your body moving.
  • • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help you stay grounded and reduce stress. While some of these aren’t for everyone, taking time to take a few breaths when you’re feeling stressed – or taking time to sit in silence can be a game changer.
  • • Take Breaks: Regular breaks throughout your workday can improve productivity and prevent burnout. Step away from your desk, take a walk, or do something you enjoy during your breaks.


Step #5 Make the time for downtime!

Downtime is essential for recharging and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Relaxing? It should be firmly in your schedule!

  • • Schedule In The Things You Enjoy: Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, playing sport on a Thursday night, or just sitting on the couch at home – Having something to look forward to can make your workday more manageable (Just make sure you don’t get into a habit of canceling your plans when work runs late!).
  • • Take Time Off: Don’t be afraid to use your leave – it’s there for you to take, as is your sick leave! 
  • • Unplug from Work: When you’re not working, make a conscious effort to unplug. This means avoiding checking work emails or taking work calls during your personal time. We’re big advocates for keeping your work comms to your work platforms and not having emails pinging you at all hours of the night!


Achieving work-life balance isn’t easy, but with the right preparation – you can make sure you’re supporting your overall well-being and setting yourself up for a successful and fulfilling career.