Work-life balance. It’s something we should all work hard to gain, but is it possible if you’re working in a company that demands more and more?
Many of us get to work, dive straight into it, work through breaks and lunch, and head home late. We then check emails before and after dinner, and on weekends. Eventually fatigue sets in and we may even get depressed and start hating our work life. We’re frustrated that our place of employment talks openly about work-life balance but doesn’t seem to have much of it.
What to do?
While it might take time, you can achieve work-life balance without compromising on your career.
Kate Prior, Managing Director of face2face Recruitment, has been in the recruitment industry for decades. Here are her tips for setting in train what needs to happen to achieve work-life balance.
Think through your situation and make small changes
If you can’t remember the last time you left your desk to have lunch, then start scheduling your lunch break into your calendar and take that valuable break at least twice in the first week. Then increase it to three times. Then make it the rule, not the exception.
Talk to your boss
If you’re drowning in work, make a list of all your priorities and deadlines and schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss them. Ask for help so you’re not so overloaded. Don’t be afraid to ask for some work to be transferred to another team member. Ask if deadlines can be extended. Ask if you can get additional support.
Learn to say no
If you’re asked to do additional tasks, consider carefully whether it’s realistic to do so. If not, gently but firmly say you’d love to help but can’t because you’re already packed out. Explain that new projects or extra commitments will mean you won’t get everything you’re already working on completed to the best of your ability and without compromise.
Prioritise your time wisely
Learning to be super efficient at work is a great way to support yourself to achieve work-life balance. Categorise your work into: urgent and important; important but not urgent; urgent but not important; and neither urgent nor important. Then tackle your work accordingly.
Make maximum use of information technology
We waste a lot of time doing things inefficiently because we don’t take time to learn how to maximise technology. A short module or quick Internet search can help you learn shortcuts and other time-saving techniques. You can also save time by using conferencing technologies instead of driving to and from meetings. Perhaps your office will allow you to Skype.
Communicate to colleagues
Be upfront and tell people when you will and won’t be working, and don’t apologise for your decision. Don’t allow yourself to compromise by agreeing to a meeting that will prevent you from arriving or leaving work on time.
Plan activities for your personal time
When you have personal commitments around ‘fun stuff’, you’re less likely to think about heading to the computer or checking emails outside of office hours. This doesn’t mean you have to pack your evenings and weekends out—a nice balance will take you a long way.
Be punctual and work to the top of your game
Wanting to arrive and leave at reasonable times is fantastic, but to be respected you need to arrive and leave on time and be ‘switched on’ when at your desk. Wanting work-life balance and then slacking off isn’t a great combo. Your boss and colleagues will notice and won’t appreciate it.
Talk to a doctor
If you’re suffering headaches and constant fatigue, and perhaps even experiencing mood shifts, make an appointment with your GP. If your doctor agrees you need to make changes then do so and let your boss know that your health is one reason you need to achieve work-life balance.
Book—and take—your holidays
Don’t accrue leave. Make sure you book your holidays in advance and then take them. Accruing leave can lead to burnout.
Give yourself credit at the end of each day
Be realistic and proud of what you’ve achieved at the end of each day. Don’t focus on what you didn’t get done. Rather, give yourself a pat on the back for what did get done. This positive attitude will help keep you motivated.
Want to learn more?
We publish our expert articles every week. Here are some related articles that might inspire further thinking on work-life balance.