Does the term “work-life balance” even exist in your vocabulary? When was the last time you had an actual holiday? Not the calendar-defined ones like Christmas, but an honest-to-idleness break where you deliberately chose to abstain or absent yourself from work for a few days – or even, hours?
If you genuinely can’t recall, then you’ll probably benefit (a lot) from these tips on how to improve the balance between your working and personal lives.
1. Ignore Those Alerts
Technology blogs spend a lot of time raving about how lucky we are to live in an age of “always on, always connected” hardware and services. But in terms of quality of life, this perpetual connectivity can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing.
Case in point: all those customisable email alerts, SMS and social media notifications that seem to pipe up every few seconds of every working day – and night – on your tablet or mobile phone. Convenient, but distracting. Very. Especially if you’re trying to concentrate on something else.
Seriously, having to continuously divert your attention to a sporadic and external stream of information which may or may not be relevant to anything in particular is a great way to prevent yourself from completing the vital work you have at hand – even if that work is just taking a few hours off, from your busy timetable.
“Do Not Disturb” functions and power off buttons were created for a reason. Use them.
2. Learn To Say “No”
A great way to tip your work-life balance heavily (and stress-inducingly) in favour of “work” is to create a reputation for yourself as the “11th Hour” or “Go To” person in your organisation – the one prepared to take on rush jobs or emergency deadlines at the drop of a hat.
It may be very good for your standing and your company’s bottom line in the short term, but over time, subjecting yourself to so much pressure can have devastating consequences on your physical and mental health.
And, let’s face it: the fact that there are so many rush jobs and last-minute requests being made speaks less to your willingness to take them on and more to a lack of co-ordination in the running of your business.
So do yourself and your health a favour and graciously decline these opportunities to over-work yourself, from time to time. Not only will it give you more time to concentrate on things that are important to you, knowing that you’re not always available will give your colleagues and supervisors something to think about, in respect to why they keep having to ask you to step in so often, in the first place.
3. Prioritise Your Activities
Creating more time for your personal life can be a natural consequence of creating more time for everything you do, in general. And having a prioritised “To Do” list for each day is one way to achieve this.
To help in achieving a better work-life balance, try to create a mix of “work” and “life” related activities for each day. Then work diligently through your list until each task (including Item 7: Lunch at Spago’s) is done.
4. Include Physical Exercise in Your Mix
Health and fitness experts have been going on about the virtues of daily exercise for decades, now – and they’re not wrong. Maintaining a healthy body is an integral part of maintaining a healthy mind. And a healthy mind and body are essential to being able to perform effectively at work.
So be sure to include some kind of physical activity in your prioritised list of daily tasks – even if it’s something as mundane as “Walk/Jog through park on way to collect samples from Warehouse.”
5. Establish Work Times & Work Spaces
To create a distinction between “work time” and “personal/life time”, go ahead and actually do it. Set a formal timetable for work and work-related activities during the day – and stick to it (allowing a little leeway for the inevitable hiccups and crises).
And to push that distinction further, designate certain spaces as work spaces. If you work in an office or other facility, you’ll already have those laid out. But if you work from home, this may mean setting up a separate room or den as your studio/work space. As with your work schedule, any time you spend outside this space should be considered as personal.
This attitude should extend to your phone. The cloud-hosted Swytch network allows your company to assign UK business numbers to workers’ personal phones so they can receive vital communications at all times. And crucially for your work-life balance, Swytch enables you to maintain a clear demarcation between personal and business contacts and data.
6. “Good Enough” May Be Good Enough
We all want to be acknowledged for doing our jobs well, and striving for excellence in all things is no bad thing. But, we’re only human – and perfection is something that isn’t built into our DNA.
So spending hours and hours on each task, striving to get it just right isn’t a winning plan. It’s an inefficient use of your time and resources – not to mention a great way to induce high blood pressure.
Admitting – and accepting – that sometimes “good enough” is an acceptable standard will enable you to get more individual jobs done – especially if your work requires you to move quickly from one assignment or project to another.
7. Cultivate Outside Interests
Having laser-like focus on only one aspect of your existence (like your work) limits free thinking, induces stress, and ultimately reduces your capacity to work effectively, rather than increasing it.
Taking some time to foster outside interests (sports, social activities, community service, hobbies, etc.) expands your range of experience, refreshes your body and mind, and opens up a wider world of new ideas and influences that may be of value to you in all sorts of ways.
8. Nurture Your Family & Support Networks
They’ll be there for you, through thick and thin (whether you like it, or not…), so devoting the time and effort to nurture your relationships with family and friends is another part of the work-life balancing process.
The time you spend with them may be invaluable in maintaining your physical and emotional health – not to mention the pool of ideas and experiences that you’ll share.
Keep these recommendations in mind, and you’ll be well on the way to improving your work-life balance.