Work-life balance. It’s something that we’re always hearing about. But with so much content out there about the importance of a healthy work-life balance how are we supposed to know which advice is good and which is bogus? Well, luckily for you, Where We Work have put our thinking caps on and done the reading and research for you. We’ve come up with what we consider to be the simplest tips for achieving that elusive work-life balance.
Learn to say no
Making yourself available 24/7 to every demand that comes
your way will likely result in you being overworked and overwhelmed. If this sounds like you, then you might need to think about harnessing the power of "no". Take the time to think about whether you can feasibly manage to take on a task before agreeing to it; if you feel like you won’t be able to complete the task without it having a negative impact on your other work load or your time off, then say no. The Mental Health Foundation recommends that when work demands get too high that it is important to speak up i as this is when stress starts to kick in and have an adverse effect on wellbeing.
A huge amount of stress can be caused by poor organisation and the simplest tricks can be employed to counteract this. Writing a note at the end of the day to yourself in which you list your outstanding tasks and things that are on your mind is an effective way to order your thoughts before you leave the workplace. Knowing what you have to work on tomorrow before you leave the office will help keep your mind from straying to organise all of the tasks you need to complete when you’re away from work. This will also help to make you more productive when you get into work the next day, as you will already have your thoughts organised and a clear check list of what you need to complete. Setting reminders in your diary for when certain tasks need to be completed can also help you to prioritise tasks and help prevent a last-minute panic over the forgotten presentation that’s due for tomorrow. Being organised at work will leave you with more time to relax when you are at home.
Leave work at work
It can be incredibly difficult to switch off when we leave the office and actually leave work at work. But there are some ways to help make this happen. Closure is a big theme among those offering tips for a healthy work-life balance: mentally switching off from the work day is important. Getting into the habit of a small routine or ritual to signify the end of the working day can be a useful way to distance yourself from work in your free time. Taking a minute to take some deep breaths before you start the car engine or unwind for a moment at the bus stop can be time to acknowledge the fact that you have left worki.
Even when we’re manically busy, we still make time for the essential things in life. We eat, we sleep, we repeat (although
it’s likely if you’re overworked that you’re not getting enough sleep – but that’s a matter for another blog). Despite this, when we’re overworked one of our most important needs usually gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list and is forgotten: exercise. Being active is a great way to reduce stress and it pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. Exercising lifts our mood and keeps us healthy – meaning we’re less likely to take sick days and to see a boost in our productivity. And if the thought of hitting the treadmill or benching weights fills you with dread, don’t worry. Yoga or meditation can sow the same benefits; a quick five-minute session in the morning and evening is a great way to relax and counteract stress ii.
It’s all too easy to neglect your friends and family when we
feel the workload piling up. We’ve all been there; half a dozen people we really must make plans with but never get around to seeing. When you plan your week, make sure to schedule time in for socialising. Putting a date in the diary to grab a coffee or a bite to eat will give you something to look forward to and give you an extra incentive to manage your time effectively so you don’t have to cancel.
From smart phones to telecommuting, technology has helped our modern lives in many ways. However, it has also created expectations of constant accessibility and can mean that for many the work day never seems to end. Many people will find themselves checking or replying to emails in the evenings, weekends or even when they’re on holiday – and this isn’t healthy. Notifications interrupt your time off and can create a background noise of stress and unease meaning you can never feel fully relaxed or recharged. The incessant checking of emails will not be adding to your productivity and is more than likely hampering your ability to be productive. Be strict with yourself; don’t check work emails when you aren’t at work. You could even delete the email account for work off your smart phone so there is no temptation to ‘check in’ in your downtime. Having distance from work and allowing yourself to fully disconnect from it will allow you to properly relax and enjoy your own time.
But why exactly is it important to have a work-life balance? Well, it matters to people. A recent study found out that nearly two-thirds of employees felt that work-life balance was the most important factor to them in overall life satisfaction – and as we all know: happy staff are more productive staff. Human productivity isn’t simply a numbers game; to be our most productive we need time to recharge our batteries. We don’t get more done by working long hours and being constantly available through our smart phones; we are not robots. And this means that any job that isn’t being done by a robot requires a person with a sense of balance, not a slave mentality.