With so many of us striving for success, we are clocking in more hours at the office and neglecting our personal goals and general wellbeing, making it almost impossible for us to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re wondering how you can turn things around and achieve a healthy balance in such a fast-paced and demanding world, or how you can separate your work life from your personal life, then you’ve come to the right place!
1. Identify What Is Important to You
The first step to take when striving for the perfect balance is to identify what is truly important to you. Whether it’s focusing on your wellbeing, taking up a new hobby or spending more time with family and friends, you must have a personal goal in sight.
As our lives are so busy, it’s often hard to dedicate enough time to the things that we truly want to do, and this is why it’s so important to prioritise and identify what is necessary for your personal happiness.
2. Include Downtime within Your Schedule
If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the go, trying to ensure that everything’s in order at work and at home, which usually ends up eating into your much-needed downtime. This not only results in extreme tiredness, but it also makes you feel stressed as you’re always rushing to tick tasks off your to-do lists.
Instead of spending every waking second doing some kind of work (be it housework or after-hours office tasks), bring back some kind of balance to your life by adding some downtime to your daily schedule. During these hours, do things that you really enjoy doing, and repeat this action until it becomes a habit. And if there’s nothing you necessarily want to do, just learn how to relax and switch off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
3. Have Set Working Hours
Whether you’re allowed to set your own working hours or they are non-negotiable, it’s important to stick to a routine. If you have a set schedule, be sure to stick to those exact hours without working overtime. Anything extra, and you’ll end up making mistakes and rushing work as you’ll be eager to get home, which is neither productive for yourself or the company.
Rather than burning the midnight oil and moving towards career stagnation, it’s important to close the book and pick up again where you left off the following day. You should focus your time and attention on what you can control – and leaving work on time is one of those things.
4. Don’t Take Work Home with You
While you need to have set working hours, it’s important to leave work where it is and not cave into doing any at home (even if it is replying to a quick email). With such advanced technology, it can be hard to switch off and refrain from checking your mail, but unless you’re required to have your account connected to your personal devices – avoid doing it at all costs!
A great way to switch off is to write a to-do list and carry over any remaining tasks to the following day. That way, you know what to expect when you get into work, and you can start tackling your tasks from the minute that you get into work.
5. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
Health is something that we all neglect.
Refusing to see the doctor about your shoulder that’s been giving you nothing but agony for a month. Forgetting to get your annual check five years in a row. And let’s not forget to mention the number of times you’ve gone into the office with a cold when you should really be tucked up in bed.
All these actions have a knock-on effect on your productivity, as you’re constantly battling with your health. Instead, put your health first by leading a healthier lifestyle. Eat healthily, drink lots of water and set some time aside to exercise.
6. Get Enough Sleep
While we live in a world where time is of the essence, we often choose to sacrifice our sleep to ensure that we manage to fit everything in. However, constant sleep deprivation can have an everlasting effect on our health and reportedly costs companies over $136 billion in lost productivity.
And while it’s widely stated that eight hours of sleep is essential for a healthy brain, the number of hours each individual needs does depend on their body. This amount could range between 6 and 10 hours per day, so it’s important to establish what your personal requirement is and to try to stick to a set routine.
7. Fine-Tune Your Time Management
If you tend to spend a lot of time procrastinating and putting off certain tasks, you will benefit from investing in time tracking tools. This will help you identify where it is that you’re wasting time and it will help you get rid of interruptions and focus on meeting your deadlines.
Another great way to increase productivity is to work using the Pomodoro method which requires you to work in short spouts to ensure you’re fully focused for the entire 25 minutes (as illustrated below). The short breaks also allow you to reset your mindset and concentrate on the task at hand.
Delegation is important within the workplace and in your household.
If your duties at work are holding you down, delegate tasks to interns or other colleagues who can take on extra responsibilities and relieve some of your workload.
But if it’s household chores that you can’t keep up with, delegate some to your partner or roommate, or consider hiring some much-needed help that can lift the strain from you.
9. Set Career Goals
Setting career goals is essential if you strive to have a great work-life balance and be satisfied at work and at home. But these goals will differ from person to person; some people may dream of climbing the career ladder, while others focus on pay rises and some simply want an enjoyable job that will allow them to have a family life too. What’s important is to understand what’s ideal for you, and to work towards achieving that goal.
10. Plan Time Off
Many workaholics fear that taking time off will mess their progress and, more often than not, don’t use their full holiday allowance in fear of missing out their work duties. But planned time off is a great way of managing a healthy work-life balance and ensuring the mind and body gets the rest that it needs. ‘Evidence shows you become less productive without proper breaks,’ says Penny de Valk, managing director of talent management at global HR services group, Penna. ‘Even if people work longer hours, they're not as creative and can't maintain the same intensity level’.
Planned holidays and time off are essential for survival. They help you recharge your batteries, refocus and return to work more productive than before. On the other hand, if you work excessive hours, you’ll end up placing a strain on your personal life and move further away from achieving an ideal work-life balance.
In a world where we are constantly attached to technology, where we try to do everything at once and where we are continually pushed for time, it’s necessary to take a step back and identify what’s significant in our lives.
For some, this may be focusing on family, while for others it could be following a personal goal that was placed on the backburner. But whatever it may be, it’s necessary to put your wants and needs first, and make the most of the time that you do have!
Do you try to keep a good work-life balance? Let us know what your top tips are by joining in on the conversation below.