10 Essential Work-Life Balance Tips from Finland

Apple Mac laptop, coffee cup, Lego toy and pacifier on wooden table surface

For many, the successful combination of personal and work life sounds like a distant dream. A good career, a healthy relationship, a couple of kids, exercising, having time for your friends… Is there anybody who has actually mastered that?

Here’s what Finns are doing to survive the most hectic years of their lives.


Tip #1: Define your time at the office

In Finland, everybody’s favorite working time is from Monday to Friday 8-4. Except, of course, the people working in Helsinki. Our favorite working time is from 9-5.

Everybody works efficiently so they can leave the office guilt-free after eight hours.


Tip #2 Do minimal evening work

Late evenings at the office are not a virtue in Finland. If you must, do the second lap of work at home.

Preferably, do your work before 9 PM so that you have time to put your work thoughts aside before trying to sleep.


Tip #3 Bore your kids

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not inventing activities for your children when they have nothing to do.

It’s actually great for them! Both Finnish and English professionals argue that bored kids learn to be more creative.


Tip #4 Work remotely

If you can, give remote working a try. Mark it in your calendar and prepare a list of the things you want to accomplish that day. Chances are, you’ll have more energy compared to a typical office day.

Why? Because you’ve already unintentionally used up a good part of your daily willpower before you even arrive at the office. Things like commuting, small talking, and grabbing takeaway coffee can be more draining than you think.


Tip #5 Exercise daily

You might not have an extra hour to hit the gym after work, so try to think about exercise in broader terms. For example, you could:

• walk to work, or simply park further away
• take the stairs at the office
• ask for a standing work table
• have walking meetings or brainstorming sessions
• do two five-minute stretching sessions a day

Finnish doctor and life coach Aki Hintsa discusses in his book “The Core” how essential it is to stay active. Little changes can have a huge impact in the long run.


Tip #6 Have an evening routine

Sleep is so important for us all! The blue light of screens (phone, pad, laptop) can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Even in a household of adults, have an evening routine. Avoid gadgets two hours before bedtime, dim the lights and put relaxing music on before tucking in for the night.


Tip #7 Buy easy-care clothes

Unless you love ironing and hand-washing, look for quality clothes that don’t need a lot of TLC. Life is easier when you’re not wasting time prepping clothes.
Luckily for Finns, Finnish culture and weather conditions let us get away with pretty much anything clothing-wise. You’re good to go if you’re decent.


Tip #8 Drink coffee

Finns drink a lot of coffee. In fact, we are the world champions in coffee consumption (Take that, Swedes!).
A decaffeinated Finn is mute and cranky, with a headache to top it off. A well-caffeinated Finn is silent and a bit more co-operative. Enjoy a cup and see how it works for you!


Tip #9 Make a permanent time slot for a nagging task

Some chores, like paying bills, ironing, and hoovering are not daily. They are nagging tasks that bounce around in your head if you don’t plan a specific time for them.
Try the “Finnish mum” technique: make a time slot for every task. For example, 1 hour every Monday to check check your accounts and pay bills.


Tip #10 Have a weekly meeting

Do the opposite of Corporate Finland and have a weekly team meeting — with your family, of course. Sit down with your calendars on Sunday evening, and don’t forget the cinnamon buns to lure them in!

Varpu Pöyry is a Finnish travel blogger at herfinland.com. She is a blonde engineer writing travel and cultural stories about Finland and has a free Finland Starter Kit for you to download. Like any other Finn, she is bad at small talk and loves cinnamon buns.

5 replies

  1. “Both Finnish and English professionals argue that bored kids learn to be more creative.” Yeah, but do they have to deal with their moaning?

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