Easy ways to achieve a work/life balance
Did you know that here in the UK, we work some of the longest hours in Europe? As anyone who has ever lived in London (or any other big city) knows, we often spend more hours at our desk than we do at home, with friends, family or our partners. This imbalance in our work/life routine can leave us feeling stressed, exhausted and frustrated; but it doesn't have to be that way. With a little determination and some (more) hard work, you can regain the delicate balance between work and play, to ensure you feel like you're actually living your life, not just sleepwalking through a mundane 9 to 5 every day. Ready to find out how to achieve that work/life balance? Here's how...
Set yourself deadlines
Whether you work for yourself or are employed, chances are you're sick of hearing the word 'deadlines'. But deadlines aren't all about stress and skipping your lunch break to squeeze in that client presentation; in fact, deadlines are what will help you to regain your work/life balance. By setting yourself strict personal deadlines, you can ensure you get the 'me' time you've been dreaming about.
Say you're due to finish work at 5pm, but you just know if you don't stay until at least 7pm, tomorrow will be stressful. We say, set yourself a deadline – leave your desk by 5.30pm at the latest and worry about tomorrow's work when the time comes. Nobody's forcing you to stay until 7pm, so escape the office and do something productive, just for you. Meet friends for dinner, head to the gym for a yoga class or go for a run – the choice is yours.
Stop putting things off
You've probably heard the saying, “Never put off til tomorrow what you could do today.” This is something we should all try to live by, although it's sometimes easier in practice than it is in theory. Don't put things off just because you don't feel like doing them. If you have a few spare hours in your day, use them productively. Catch up with that work that's looming over your head, or fit in a quick coffee with a friend you haven't seen for ages. Plan your time and utilise every second and you'll find you have more available time, we promise!
Learn to say no
It's a fact of life that British people are often afraid to say no. We don't want to upset anyone or let them down, so we bend over backwards to please. By learning to say no, you can regain your work/life balance – here's how to do it. Next time your boss asks you to work late, but you already have plans, just be honest.
If you really feel guilty, say you'll cover next time. Of course, if there's an emergency and the whole team needs to step up, you'll just have to deal with it, but in most cases there will always be someone else willing to help out if you say no. You should never feel pressurised into rearranging your social plans (unless you work in a role where it's expected, such as the emergency services), so just politely decline and see how you feel. We think you'll feel great – after all, you've already worked a 45 hour week, so you deserve some time off! Putting in extra hours can not only affect your social life, it can also leave you feeling exhausted, stressed and unable to sleep.
Look at your life objectively
Many of us aren't aware of how much time we spend at work, thinking about work, dreaming about work....By creating a visual representation of your life on paper (or on your PC), you can see just where you're going wrong. Divide your life into five sectors – work, family, friends, love and hobbies. Now write everything you did this week into the appropriate sector. We bet you'll have more comments in the work sector than anywhere else, and it shouldn't be this way.
In an ideal world, each sector should be equal. You shouldn't spend more time on your love life than your work, and family shouldn't be neglected in favour of socialising with friends. By being aware of how you divide your time, you're taking the first steps towards regaining a balance between your work and the rest of your life.
Live in the moment
Multi-tasking has become so commonplace nowadays that, if you're anything like me, you probably don't even realise you're doing it. Checking your work emails in the evenings whilst watching Sleepy Hollow? Drafting an email to your boss whilst you're on the phone with family? Or the worst one, checking for work texts or emails on your night out with your partner. If you're guilty of any of the above, you need to start living in the moment.
Research shows that people who live in the moment, without distractions, are happier and healthier. Your brain isn't trying to process 101 things – it's just enjoying what is happening, right now. So next time you're watching a film on the couch with your better half, or enjoying dinner with friends, switch your phone and PC off. Let the outside world wait a little – before the days of mobile phones and emails, that was just what was expected. Remember, you're the one who has control over how much, or how little, you communicate, nobody else!
Do something you love, everyday
This is your life and you only get one chance at it, so make sure you fill your days with things you love. Even the busiest professional can find time for something they love everyday. Whether that's a long hot bath with your favourite book, a workout at the gym, running in the park with your friend or dinner with your family, you'll feel more balanced and more fulfilled – and less likely to dread work the next day.
How do you find the balance between your work and personal life – do you think that you work too much? Getting the balance right can be difficult, but the Expertrain team are working hard to manage their own work/life balance, and we hope this helps you to do the same!