For many of us juggling the conflicting demands of our work, families, social lives and career development, as well as our physical and emotional wellbeing, can be a challenge. Sometimes the demands of work mean we put in extra hours. Every so often this is OK, but regularly working long hours can have a negative effect, not just on ourselves, but on our loved ones. It is also likely to make us less effective at work.
Work/life balance is the allocation of time to the different elements of our life, which enables us to be effective and have a feeling of wellbeing. To maintain a positive work/life balance it is important to “switch off” from work and spend quality time with family and friends, and pursue some of the activities we enjoy.
4 key work/life balance strategies are:
1. Plan and manage time effectively – so we are making conscious decisions about time allocation and can stay in control e.g:
- Look at how you allocate time between the different aspects of your life now and compare this with your ideal – what can you change? What should your priorities be?
- Take your holidays – don’t lose them because you are too busy!
- Keep your goals in mind – what we focus on tends to happen.
2. Do the most important things first.
3. Be proactive, not reactive – e.g. you don’t have to respond to every email as soon as it arrives.
4. Keep good boundaries e.g:
- Take breaks during the day – even a 10 minute walk is better than nothing.
- Be prepared to say ‘no’ or ‘later’ to non-essential interruptions and set realistic expectations.
- Leave work on time and move on to a different activity e.g. going to the gym.
- Mark the boundary between work and personal life – e.g. use travel to disengage from work (you could walk around the block if you work from home), change clothes, turn off your laptop or computer.
- Schedule in relaxation time – and stick to it.