How To Achieve A Work/Life Balance
Work is an important part of our everyday lives, whether it’s helping to pay the bills or giving us a sense of purpose. However, many of us can feel at one time or another that we are ‘living to work’ rather than ‘working to live’. Lynn Cahillane, recruitment expert from reed.co.uk, shares her advice on how to achieve a better work/life balance.
With a typical full time job taking up nearly 40% of our waking hours, it’s important for everyone to find a life balance that gives us some time away from the stress of work and allows us to enjoy other aspects of our personal lives.
What is the right work/life balance?
A work/life balance varies from person to person. However, it’s essentially the amount of time and focus a person gives their work versus other aspects of their life.
Why do we need it?
However much you may want to be seen to be the best in your job, if you don’t make the time to switch off, the results can have a negative impact on both your work and your personal life, including:
Work burn out: A person who’s worked too long and too hard will often simply burn themselves out, both personally and professionally. As well as leaving you with little energy to enjoy your free time, this can potentially cause problems with your employer should they see you display a lack of interest, a short temper or difficulty with others.
This issue could prove costly to you, as it could lead to disciplinary action or, in the worst cases, even dismissal.
Stress: A person who doesn’t achieve a satisfying work/life balance can often end up generating stress if they don’t have enough time to relax. Research shows that excess stress can cause psychological, emotional and behavioural problems. These conditions can take their toll on any individual and may end up causing a break down in relationships and impeding work performance. In other words, a lack of balance can create problems that can be costly physically, emotionally and financially to you.
How can we achieve a better work/life balance?
The first step to achieving a better work/life balance is to think about the demands on your current professional and personal life. Do you frequently work more than is required of you? Do you find yourself working even when you had planned social engagements, hobbies or exercise? Of course these considerations will vary for every individual. Regardless, you should make a conscious effort to establish your own set of rules that allow you to strike the right balance between work and life. Ways to do this include:
1) Asking friends and family if they feel you dedicate too much time to your work.
2) Prioritising tasks and events within both work and personal time – and making sure you do what’s important in both.
3) Creating realistic boundaries between work and non-work items – this may be as simple as not checking work emails during evenings and weekends, or making sure you leave on time a set number of days per week.
4) Setting time aside for you. Schedule an activity in your free time or block out a time period that’s for you to relax and enjoy yourself. It may help to think of this time as a meeting that you can’t get out of, which will make sure you actually spend the time doing what you had planned.
Why would an employer encourage this balance?
Most employers don’t want their staff to be working 24/7, as there are as many benefits for companies to encourage a work/life balance as there are for you. These include:
1) A happy workforce often results in increased productivity for a company.
2) Should an employee leave the company due to being overworked, the employer will have to fork out the additional costs to recruit someone new who can do that role.
3) For companies to attract new recruits, the offer of flexible working options can often entice the best potential employees.
If you’re finding that you can’t manage to create the right work/life balance, even after trying the steps above, it’s worth raising the issue with your employer who may be able to help with any workload problems.
By: Zoe Liberty