Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is simple right? After all, once you’ve left the office for the day you can pretty much close the book on your work-related activities. However, for many of us in today’s always-on world, finding the ideal balance between your professional and private life is more difficult than it may first appear.
With the rise of smartphones, remote working and freelancing, the boundaries drawn between work time and free time are being stretched ever thinner. Now, we reply to emails on our commute, we work from home and take our smartphones to bed with us, we even take calls at the weekend or late at night from people working in different time zones.
However, there should definitely be a line drawn between the two. After all, professional burnout is a very real possibility, leaving you unable to relax while you’re at home or complete your work to the best of your ability. Here then, we take a look at how to find the right balance so you can successfully juggle all of your responsibilities—both professional and personal.
Turn Off Your Phone
While technology helps us in so many ways, it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, answering a few emails from time to time from home or on your commute can be useful, however, we tend to take it too far—even compulsively checking our inboxes when we know there’s no new emails. Turning off your phone is one of the most liberating things you can do. This is especially true for those of us still checking that little blue screen in bed—just leave it in the lounge and give yourself a break.
Ask About Flexitime
Some companies are recognizing that the traditional 9 to 5 is no longer suitable for many people’s lifestyles. Flexitime is one way in which companies are becoming more responsive to our changing needs, and it’s worth asking about your options. This can be particularly useful for those with families, after all, it’s very difficult to keep your work/life balance in check when you also have to fit your schedule around school and other daytime appointments. Flexitime can also be useful if you often work with clients or customers in different time zones, giving you the opportunity to better fit your schedule around your appointments.
Learn to Say No
This one is particularly important, and anyone who regularly has an overloaded schedule will understand why. Learning to say no, however much you want to impress your bosses, is the only way you’ll ever reclaim your work/life balance. Constantly taking on more work than you can handle will ensure that your stress levels remain high and your standards will slip. This means that when your boss returns work to you because it is not up to the required levels, you’ll spend even more time trying to bring it up to scratch. Learning to say no is key to maintaining a balance between work and your private life.
Use All of Your Vacation (and breaks)
Everyone loves vacation, but it’s amazing how many people waste their allocated days each year. In order to ensure a good work/life balance, it is crucial to make sure you take advantage of your annual leave. You should try to spread them out across the year to ensure you always have at least a few days to spare when you feel particularly stressed.
The same is true for your break time, and eating lunch at your desk is likely to leave you less productive than if you had taken an hour or two away from the screen.
Of course, if you’re workload is simply too packed to implement any of these changes, then it’s time to think about hiring new staff to share the burden. However, wherever possible, try these steps first and see if you can regain that elusive work/life balance.