Top five tips for a better work/life balance
Achieving a good work/life balance can seem an impossibility. Even more so as improving technology makes it more convenient for work to crossover into people’s lives. On top of that, the bar keeps getting higher and higher leading to increased pressures, tighter deadlines, and ultimately more stress.
But working longer and harder does not mean achieving more. Although better work/life balance may mean something different to different people, we can all agree that looking after our health, relationships and overall happiness is always important.
Here are some of our top tips to find a better work/life balance.
Plan rest days and unplug – Removing yourself completely from work-related activities is the best way to relax, reset, and recharge to ensure you are more productive and creative. Plan rest days in advance and book in your holidays at your earliest convenience. Some of the top performing businesspeople book in their entire holiday allowance in January for the year ahead. Aim to give yourself a rejuvenating ‘me-day’ at least once a month, and switch-off when on those days. Turn off your work phone, emails and proactively let your colleagues and clients know you are taking a rest day. You will quickly notice a marked difference.
Focus on results and let go of fear – There will always be something to do, not enough hours in the day, or the belief that we are being judged if we are not always working. But busier does not equate to better. Focus on the result and outcomes, as these will always supersede effort. Learnt to work more smartly and efficiently. Once you understand what activities provide the greatest returns, the more confident you will feel, the easier you will find it to let go, and the likelihood is, you will feel more productive.
Prioritise and learn to say no – Plan your to-do lists by deadlines and learn to understand the flexibility there are in these, if in doubt – ask. Be realistic with your timings and ability to deliver within the time available. It is important to decide what you can achieve and what is important in delivering the result required. Most people are only really interested in the result, how you go about it is secondary, and if you can not meet the timings then be honest. Better to flag ahead of time so a solution can be worked out, than miss the deadline when it is too late.
Keep track of your free time and have more fun – Like you plan your work week ahead and create weekly/monthly reports, look to do something similar with your free time. Plan and set personal diary appointments. Then at the end of each week or month, review how much time you have spent on having fun or socialising, and as with work understand what you have achieved. This will start to give you an indication of whether you need to do more and make you more likely to be proactive in setting up more plans outside of work.
Start small and build from there – Changing your lifestyle is a big commitment, so make it more of a gradual process. Do not try to overhaul your life or do too much too quickly. This is not sustainable. Many workaholics will commit to drastic change and then find it too hard to meet their promise, leading to disappointment and ultimately failure. Start smaller, plot more attainable short-term goals with the accumulative aim of achieving a long-term goal. For instance, if you never finish work and leave the office on time, start with leaving on time one night a week. Work your way up to two, then three, and so on. Experiencing some success will encourage you to keep up the momentum and do more.