Having a work/life balance is a goal for most of us, but in a world where we work longer hours and juggle family, friendships and demanding jobs, is there such a thing as a balance, or is it a myth?
1. Create clear boundaries & stick to them
If you’ve agreed with your family you will be home by 6pm then you will have to make sure others know you must leave by 5pm, and be strict with yourself and others. There’ll always be more you could do in a day, but if you become effective at mastering your time, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to leave at a certain time each day.
TIP: Check any final commitments you have 1 hour before you are due to leave, and ask your manager/team if there’s anything urgent they need of you that must be done that day. As well as giving you 1 hour to do these tasks, it sets the expectation that you will be leaving at a given time.
2. Turn off notifications
In a world where technology is a central part of our working days, it can be easy to become reactive to whichever emails and calls we receive during the working day, or even during our leisure time. However, this diverts your focus leaving you in an alert but distracted state, achieving less than you had planned. Whether you’re at work or at home, question whether these are helping you & be brave by switching them off.
TIP: Allay your fears of missing that email by agreeing you will check your inbox every hour on the hour, for 5 minutes before returning to the task you are working on.
3. Be present if you’re present
Finally, having rushed to the train, battled a crowded rush hour and arrived home, ensure your mind is with you and not still in the office by avoiding the temptation to check your emails. Even if you are doing it on your phone while enjoying a film, it will prevent you from enjoying quality leisure time, which in time can quickly grow into anxiety or resentment for your job. And visa versa, if you’re at work, be present in your environment and see your productivity improve.
TIP: Habits take time to change, so if you find yourself thinking of work at home, or home when at work, take a moment and think to yourself ‘ok, I’m going to be present here now’. If you struggle with this, ask yourself: ‘What smells, sounds, sensations and actions are there here now?’. This is a mindfulness technique that works to keep you present.
4. Get clear on your priorities
For me, I believe that your job is a part of your whole, so rather than polarising work and leisure, the most effective way to achieve this perceived balance, is to work out the priorities in your life – writing one list of both work and your personal life – and ensure you do something to work towards each of these each week
TIP: To identify what’s most important to you, imagine your life in one year’s time: what will you want to be doing in your life? What will you want to have achieved?
Wishing you success and happiness,