Finding a work life balance is hard. We’ve all been there. The clock hits 5pm and instead of jumping in our cars and heading home to our families, we stay. “I’ll just finish this last email.” “Oh I just need to call so and so.” And before we know it, it’s 6pm and we’re only just leaving. Then we get home and instead of unwinding in front of the TV, we’re checking emails or working on documents, or sending messages. Do we ever really switch off from work? Apparently not. And that’s effecting the UK workforce more than every before.
According to mentalhealth.org, more than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work, which may increase their vulnerability to mental health problems. So whilst having a successful career is an important part of many people’s lives, it’s also important to find a good balance between your job and your personal life. Not only is this great for your wellbeing, it also ensures you’re getting the best out of both aspects of your life. Both are important, neither should be neglected.
But what can we do to maintain a healthy work life balance? Well, there’s actually a few things, but it’s important to remember that it may be different for every individual, you just need to find the balance that’s right for you. Here’s some quick ways you can get closer to achieving better balance in your life without having to make any drastic changes.
If you want to maintain a healthy work life balance, try to ‘work smart, not long’. This involves tight prioritisation – allowing yourself a certain amount of time per task – and trying not to get caught up in less productive activities, such as unstructured meetings that tend to take up lots of time. From setting achievable goals to organising your tasks, there are many key ways to ensure your focus on always on the most important/time sensitive thing – whether it’s at work or at home.
2. Make Time for Exercise
One of the most positive ways to reduce stress is exercise, and every able-bodied adult should be getting at least 30 minutes of it per day. It’s known for the productions of endorphines, the feel-good hormone that is scientifically proven to make you feel happier.
It’s easy to cancel the gym, the evening run or the yoga class because a client wants something done yesterday. Instead, ensure exercise is given priority. A healthy body means a fresh mind, which means you will function better and complete tasks in less time ultimately leading to a healthy work life balance.
3. It’s ok to say no.
If you’re the kind of person that finds it hard to say no to your boss or teammates when they ask for help, you’ll find your plate overflowing more often than not. There’s no need to respond straight away when someone asks you for help with a task. Tell them you’ll get back to them and take a moment to check whether you have time to do it. If not, they won’t be offended if you say no.
Remember, it’s better to do a few things well rather than burning the candle at both ends trying to get too much done. The Mental Health Foundation recommends that when work demands are too high, you must speak up. It’s ok to say no sometimes.
4. Learn to Unplug
We live in a connected world that never sleeps. Pair this with technology that has created expectations of constant accessibility and the work day never seems to end. “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment,” says Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Unplugging can mean something simple like playing a game on your train commute instead of checking work emails. Taking that time to unwind is critical to work life balance success and will help you feel more energised when you’re on the clock.
5. Make time for you
While your job is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. One of the best ways to bring more of a work life balance is to recommit to do the things that give you the most pleasure. If you don’t have anything, find something you’re passionate about. This could be reading, walking, becoming a better cook or gardening. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get joy from the experience.
Try carving out time every day to do this one thing. Give yourself a break to relax and enjoy yourself. Whether you go for dinner with friends or simply catch up on your latest Netflix series, it’s important you make some time for yourself. Do it for 30 days and it will become a habit. If you can create a bit of space to spend more time with the people that matter, doing the things you love, you will see a massive difference. Not only will it will help you reconnect with what you really care about, it’ll do wonders for your well-being.
It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. The key to a healthy work life balance is to start small and build from there.
Some of these strategies and tips will allow you to think differently and work differently immediately, whilst others will take a little longer to implement but will be key to your long-term success.
Creating a balance between how you think, how you work and how you spend your time is essential to your long-term health and mental wellbeing. The desire to create that change only comes from within. Hopefully these strategies and tips will set you on the right path.
The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work and deciding on what matters most is completely within your control. Why not give it a go!