The balance between work and the rest of your life is something that most experts agree can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing, not to mention your mental state. Those that find themselves getting too involved in their work and not leaving enough time for their family or even themselves are far more prone to burnout and other issues than those that strike a balance well. If you’ve landed here on this feature, the chances are that you’re looking to make improvements in this area and you’re in the right place, as we have 10 great tips. It takes time and effort, much like anything worthwhile, but with practice and good intentions, you’ll soon find the balance to be far better than you had potentially thought possible.
1. Create a List of What You’d Do If You Could
Instead of going to work and wishing you were anywhere else, be more specific about what you’d ultimately like to be doing. If you weren’t in the office, on the shop floor or wherever else you work, where would you be instead? 5 is the magic number here, and you need to put yourself in a mindset whereby nothing matters other than your goals and ambitions. Forget the job for the time being, and don’t worry about bills and regular payments either. Instead, decide what you like to do more than anything else. These will be the things you care about the most. Crucially, you have to be realistic and can’t just list ‘on a beach sipping cocktails’ 5 times.
Instead, they need to be things that you could get up and do right now. In an ideal world, you’ll be able to fit all five in a typical workday. If not, one is better than none, especially if you’re currently sat at zero. Work them into your schedule either immediately or gradually, and you’ll quickly find life being a significant part of your time again.
2. Don’t Feel Like Everything at Work needs to be Done Today
If you’re the kind of person that always aims to please, and you live by the mantra of under-promising and over-delivering, you’re probably also the kind of person that stays at work until the job’s done – no matter how long it takes. This goes against improving your work-life balance, and you should get into the frame of mind where some things can simply wait until later.
3. If You Thrive on being Overworked, Change Your Mindset
Further to the second tip, you might thrive on always having something to do. That’s never a bad way to be, but you need to be clearer on what those things are. If you’re an employee, don’t judge your worth on getting what you’re told to do done. If you’re in charge, delegate more and take some time out. Just because you always like to be busy doesn’t mean that work is the be-all and end-all.
4. Reassess Your Relationship with Technology
These tips won’t work if you’re still chained to the office in one way or another. If you find yourself regularly checking your emails when out of the office or take pride in being on call at all times, it could be time for that to change. Just because you’re not at work doesn’t mean the ‘life’ part of the balance is any better, and you need to be prepared to shut out your employment completely when your attention is elsewhere.
5. Brush Up on Your Delegation Skills
We’ve already mentioned the importance of delegation, and it is important enough to warrant its own tip here. If there are parts of your work that you don’t enjoy, you find difficult or take longer than you feel they would take someone else, then be prepared to share the workload. You might have to ask the boss for assistance with this if you’re not in charge. If you are, then it might be time for a new hire or outsourcing to get everything done.
6. Make Plans and Stick to Them
If you’ve committed to doing something for your own benefit and enjoyment, protect the time you’ve set aside. You probably pride yourself on flexibility, but it is important to draw a line somewhere, and if someone asks something of you, don’t be afraid to delay them or even say ‘no’ outright if the situation calls for it.
7. See What Timetable Changes You can make at Work
Those that tend to struggle with the work-life balance are often those that do a typical 9-5 or something similar. There will be times when you feel like you’re forced to be there rather than wanting or needing to be. See if you can get a more flexible schedule, remote working or anything else that gets you out of the office and into the real world.
8. Make Health a Priority
It is hard to demonstrate how a poor work-life balance impacts on health, but if things aren’t going well, improving it alone will not yield perfect results. Take care of the things around work, like getting enough sleep and exercise as well for better overall results.
9. Get Your Money in Order to Reduce Stress
Many people that prioritise work over life are primarily worried about money and the impact not having enough can have on them. Take the time to get everything in order, with budgets, debt repayment plans where necessary and anything else to take that stress away. In extreme cases, you might find that you don’t even need to work anywhere near as hard as you do now and can immediately improve the balance by scaling back.
10. Refine the Process
Back in the first tip, we mentioned listing out priorities of what you’d really like to achieve with your time. Once you get into the habit of balancing things out, don’t be afraid to revisit that list as priorities change, especially when you work out just how much time you can potentially have on your hands when you take the time to plan it out.