Today we have a worse work/life balance than ever before. More and more of us are working longer hours, putting in overtime and extra shifts and finding it tricky to shut off from work in the evenings, checking our emails even when we are off the clock. All of this is leading to an increase in stress, insomnia and a general lower wellbeing, so in a world where we are all so switched on, how do you achieve a better work/life balance?
1. Start saying no
You know that colleague who regularly asks you for a ‘favour’ and then dumps hours worth of paperwork on your desk, or your manager who asks you to pull a late one to compensate for others’ slack? Well it’s these little favours that add up to ten hours over time every week. Just start saying no. This doesn’t mean you have to say no to absolutely everything, as you may feel like you want to help out sometimes, but set yourself a limit each week for how many extra hours you are willing to do and stick to this.
2. Step away from your email
One of the worst culprits for making us feel like we are never completely shut off from work is our email. Just ten years’ ago to be able to check our email we would have to sit down at our computers and log on, today our email is in our pocket everywhere we go – in the form of our smart phones.
Consider your job – would it really make that much of a difference if you just stopped checking your emails when you’re not working, and instead just dealt with them during working hours? Probably not. But the difference it makes on your wellbeing is huge – making you feel like you never shut off, even when you’re trying to relax at home.
3. Work smart
Avoid staying late in the office by being more productive during your working hours. What you might not realise is that tasks you are spending a long time on could be done in half the time, and are in fact not priorities.
Teach yourself to prioritize tasks and set a limited time in which each task might be done. This might sound like you’ll be putting yourself under pressure while you are working, but staying that little bit extra focused will help you finish on time. In addition you can go home in the knowledge that all of your priorities are ticked off your list, so there’s no need to check your email or worry about the fact that you left something half finished later on.
The key to achieving a better work/life balance is to separate your work from your personal life. Avoid taking work home with you – leave it all behind when you finish for the day, and stay off your email in evenings and over the weekend.