Achieving the right work-life balance can often be seen as a myth. Balancing the professional with the personal can definitely be a challenging feat. It does not help that society constantly feeds us the ‘busy’ bug that praises productivity above all else.
Fortunately, we are realising the importance of a work-life balance. A balance which is more than crucial for our mental health and consequently our productivity. It is only natural that when your career is important to you, you push yourself for it and set aside your own hobbies and personal life.
Work-Life balance is achieved over time
Achieving a good work-life balance means that you equally prioritise the work-related demands with those of your personal life, leaving equal space and time for either in your life. Of course, this is not always achievable and one must accept that there will be days where more focus may be required at work and other days where more time is spent on your personal life. It is achieved over time and not in one day.
What are the steps that one can take to achieve this balance?
Find a job you enjoy doing
Of course, it is unrealistic to pursue the perfect job of which you will love every aspect – but you need to find one where Mondays do not seem so bad. If you find yourself dreading waking up in the morning to get to work, or finding yourself feeling anxious about your job outside your working hours, you may need to start looking for another job. At the very least, it should be a job you do not resent and you are proud of.
This may seem obvious, but often enough we underestimate scheduling time for ourselves and our family. Sure, we may schedule work meetings, and work deadlines but often enough we forego scheduling ‘me’ time or ‘family’ time. This will also help you understand where and how you spend your time. You may find some time-tracking or productivity apps will help you in this endeavour in setting boundaries.
Have tech on your side
Luckily, society has increasingly started to appreciate the convenience of an online meeting, which in itself saves commuting time and troubles, (not having to find a parking spot in an unfamiliar location is one less thing to worry about). Some phone apps can also help segment your personal life and work life by switching off some apps and notifications outside of work hours and vice versa. The ‘right to disconnect’ has been introduced in France. This requires companies with over 50 employees to set out hours in which staff are not allowed to send or answer emails. If you are an employer or a manager, it may be something you can adapt for your team.
Don’t be afraid of time off
Scheduling a holiday and really switching off will help you avoid the dreaded burn out. This is important to truly recharge – both mentally and physically. Fill those days with something different to your usual. This may mean getting out of your home (especially so if you work from home) by travelling or going on a staycation.
Unplug when possible
It may be tempting to fall into the trap of the constant need to be productive. Checking emails whilst at the hair salon, making calls when stuck in traffic or when waiting for an appointment. Take these little opportunities to break out of the grind. Read a book, blast off some of your favourite tunes and sing along happily, use a meditation app or play a game. Mentally decompressing will help give your brain the mid-day boost it needs.
Have set hours
This is especially applicable when you work flexible hours or are self-employed. Having set hours will help you plan your hours better and avoid over-working yourself to keep up with work. This will also help you to schedule your work and understand how much time is required for a task and perhaps when would be best to take time off and get yourself on a plane to your dream destination.
Set your own Boundaries
Work-life balance may mean different things to each individual. It of course, it depends on your life commitments, the type of job and your personal limits. In an always-on world, it is within your prerogative to set boundaries for yourself. If you’re managing a team, understanding the needs of your team will help you achieve a good work-life balance for the whole team and avoid overworked or disgruntled employees. It is indeed, very much a rhythm that takes time to finetune yourself to, but is exceedingly worthwhile.
If you feel burnt out then it may be time to move on. Take a look at the job listings and sign up so that we can keep you posted about jobs that could be ideal for you.