The importance of a Work Life Balance
Ever feel like you end up working from the minute you get up till early evening? Feel like you don’t switch off from work? Constantly checking Teams, Slack or emails because it’s on your phone? Then you need to read this Blog!
Having a work life balance is different for everyone, everyone has different priorities, responsibilities, and copes in different ways. Some people see a work life balance as splitting the time 50/50 between work and leisure or personal life but it doesn’t seem that easy to separate the time.
Prior to the big shift in the ways of working when most people worked in an office – there was a clear line between work and personal life. However, with the shift to remote working things have changed and it is much harder to have that clear divide between work and personal life.
Do people ever say to you ‘You are married to your job?’, ‘You work too many hours’ or ‘Work seems to always come before the family’? Well let’s think about how this is impacting your personal wellbeing.
- Exhaustion – You become so tired that it will impact the productivity of your working ability.
- Health deterioration– You become more stressed, and symptoms of on-going medical conditions may worsen.
- Lost time with family and friends– Feeling left out from events can be caused by working too much.
Understanding if your work-life balance is unhealthy is important and there are changes that can be made. It may feel normal to work long hours or be under an extreme level of stress, especially as we have most likely been set in that routine for some time and it has become habit.
Take a Step Back!
So, let’s take a step back and take the following steps to understand if you have a positive work life balance:
- Reflect– Ask yourself what is causing you to be unhappy, feel stressed or anxious? What am I losing out on? What is affecting my work and personal life? Taking time to reflect will give you an understanding of your priorities and if the way you are currently working, and living is right for you.
- Feelings– Now you have reflected on your current routine how does this make you feel? Understanding your feelings will help you to understand what changes you need to make. If you have realised that you are unhappy as you don’t get to spend time with family, or are missing out on events, you may feel frustrated and angry.
- Restructure– Making small changes can have a big impact on how you feel. Ask yourself if working long hours is worth losing out on family time, or whether working on the weekends was worth missing the football with friends?
- Make the changes – what can you do at work to allow you to have the balance? It could be asking for flexible hours, using up annual leave and not checking emails or messaging systems outside your working day.
Throughout your working career juggling a career and personal life will always have challenges. But setting limits can help to manage these challenges and allows you to look after yourself first. Three ways to help set basic limits are
- Manage your own time– Do not over commit yourself to tasks, make sure you have allowed enough time to complete a working task. Understand to ‘Work Smart, not long’
- Learn to say ‘no’ – Understand the priorities of work and home and have a to do list.
- Disconnect from work – Turn off the laptop at the end of the day, mute the messaging applications on your phone. When working from home you can feel you are always meant to be working, this can cause a severe amount of stress. Have an area at home where you work from and learn to disconnect at the end of the day. Making sure at the end of the day you transition from work mode to family mode.
- Take proper breaks – Go for a walk at lunch, put the washing on or throw the hoover round but step away from the computer screen.
Care For Yourself
By allowing yourself to have a work life balance it will give you time to care for yourself. If you have a healthy lifestyle then you are essentially coping with stress and are achieving that work life balance. To have a healthy lifestyle you need to try-
- Eat well – Regular meals when working, drinking plenty of fluids and maintain the energy levels. If your energy levels are low, you will not be very productive and will end up working longer as you are unable to concentrate.
- Physical Activity- The NHS recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week. That could be going to the gym, walking to the shops, or playing within a sports team. Even mowing the lawn is physical exercise!
- Sleep – 6-9 hours of sleep a night will keep you feel refreshed and allows you to focus during the working day. However, do you find that you wake up thinking ‘I have not done this’ OR worrying about a deadline and then you are unable to go back to sleep because it’s on your mind. Well take a notepad to bed, if you wake up write down the thought and go back to sleep as that way you will not forget.
- Relax– Time to relax is crucial it is the time you are able to do activities which can take your mind off work allowing you to recharge. Find ways to relax with family and friends – yoga, hiking or even dancing.
- Support colleagues – We have all been in a situation where the kids are off sick, you have a medical appointment or perhaps the electricity has gone down and you are awaiting the electrician. So, support your colleagues when they have an issue like this because no doubt you will have an issue where you may not be online.
Take a step back to reflect on what makes you happy and incorporate that back into your life. Spending that time with family and friends is precious and valuable, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle for yourself.