Tips for Achieving a Healthy Work Life Balance
Our career and work life are an important part of our world, whether you treat your job as simply a means to pay your bills and afford a few of life’s little luxuries, or you love your career and want to dedicate your life to it, you still need to be able to strike a healthy work / life balance.
Having a career can give us a real sense of purpose. When we work in a job that we love, it can add value to our efforts and can help to boost our self-esteem. This is great, but you still have to be careful not to let your career take over your life completely, and especially not at the expense of everything else that is important in your life, such as your relationships with your family and friends.
It may be the case that your current job is just a stop-gap for you while you are searching for a better working opportunity. While you might only tolerate your job, you must appreciate that it does help to pay your bills. You cannot afford to let your frustrations with your job interfere with your home life. If you arrive home from work after a hard day, it can be difficult to leave your worries on the doorstep. But for the sake of your home life, try not to take your career frustrations out on your loved ones.
Put your working life into perspective
Whether we love or hate our work, we sometimes need to take a step back from everything and view our working life with a critical eye. Always try to remember that our work is just one single part of our lives. OK, your salary from your work helps to pay for many other aspects of your life, without which you may not be able to afford, such as holidays or new clothes, a car etc. but it is important to strike a balance that gives you a well-earned break away, both physically and mentally.
Taking some time-out can give you the opportunity to enjoy the other important aspects of your life, such as re-connecting with your partner, enjoying spending quality time with your children, or exploring a part of the world that you have never visited before.
Completely stepping away from your work can really help to put your job into perspective and makes you realise that your work isn’t the be-all and end-all of who you are and what you do, or what you mean to others.
How do you achieve a good work / life balance?
Achieving a good work / life balance will differ very much from person to person. The one important factor to try to achieve is to give yourself enough time to put your focus and energies into other aspects of your life other than your job.
Your age and stage of your career will be important here. Many people will have different priorities throughout life, so someone in their thirties may well be trying to work on building up more time to commit to their family life so they can spend more time with their partner and young children. However, someone going into their fifties may want to focus on achieving things that have been sitting on their bucket list for a long time. There may be a lot of activities, events and destinations that they can now do that may not have been open to them in early life.
The goal here is to go to work with a target in mind that is not work-related. Keep this goal in mind and aim to keep it no matter what.
Why is this a good idea?
It is a sad fact that under today’s economic climate, we are working longer and harder than ever before. Digital technology advances has allowed our working life to creep into our home life, making it more difficult to leave our work-related worries at the front door.
So many workers are now spending their evenings replying to emails and text messages from their boss and focussing on chasing up tasks and setting up reminders, that they forget they are supposed to be enjoying family time or socialising with friends.
Having ‘constant contact’ type working practices has meant that the pressures of work are constantly there, even when we are at home with our families. This makes it almost impossible to unwind and switch off completely.
As humans, it is in our nature to want to be in control of everything we do. This means we are now more likely than ever to suffer from mental or emotional burn-out. We all know someone at work that has been working for so long and hard that they simply burnt themselves out, often resulting in a nervous break-down, or being off work sick for months with stress, anxiety and depression.
What steps can I take?
The first steps you can take towards achieving a better work / life balance would be to define the demands placed on your time both in your professional and personal life. List your demands in order of importance to you and make sure you prioritise those that are the most important, so we would guess that your family life would rank up there at the top, yes?
Start by creating some realistic boundaries between work and family life. Create a rule that states something like – between the hours of 7pm and 7am, Monday to Friday, you are on family time. This means switching off your work phone and ignoring emails from your boss or work colleagues until the next day. Your boss / work colleagues will come to learn to not expect an immediate reply from you.
Set up some regular personal time to do whatever you want to do. This could be a regular swim at your local pool, a session in the gym, going to the cinema to zone-out and watch the latest block-buster, or simply escaping for a long walk in the countryside.
If you work for yourself it can be almost impossible to completely switch off from your own business. Should this be the case with you, look at ways to reduce your workload by outsourcing some of your admin tasks to a virtual office service. This means that you can safely switch off from work and take a break away from the office without worrying about missed calls and sales opportunities.
Using virtual office services to cover your incoming business calls means you will never miss a call, whether you are in a meeting with a client, or are spending some quality time with your family.
Striking a good work / life balance is simply great for business as well as for your mental well-being. Feeling overworked as an employee or a sole trader with your own business can cost you dearly. Being happy and well-rested at work with a good work / life balance can be beneficial for everyone.