Life is demanding. Work is demanding. When you’re at home with your family or socialising with friends, there are often times when your mind wanders to that looming deadline, or big presentation next week; and when you’re at work, you feel guilty about not being as committed as you should be to your personal obligations. This can often indicate poor management of your work/life balance.
But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Up to 70 per cent of the working population also struggle with the same juggling act. Though it’s commendable to excel at your career, when it encroaches into your personal life it can have catastrophic effects on your mental and physical well-being. So to help reduce your stress levels and give you back control, here are seven actionable ways to adjust your attitude and start getting your work/life balance right.
Learn to say no.
Just because you’re available round the clock, doesn’t mean you always have to give in to more demands or take on extra tasks, especially when your schedule is already full. If you’ve reached your workload limit, it is absolutely okay to say ‘no’ – and you don’t even need to justify your actions or give excuses (but don’t be nasty or rude, either). Once you understand the importance and power of speaking up and saying ‘no’, you instantly free yourself from extra work-related stresses and gain control over your workload.
Work smarter, not harder.
There seems to be a common theme throughout the work culture that spending extended hours at work equates to increased productivity. However, nothing about this notion is intelligent at all. So what does ‘working smarter’ actually mean? It means using your hours at work more productively. Become a time management expert, plan your day efficiently, and only complete the tasks you set yourself for that day. No more, no less.
Get adequate sleep.
Getting enough sleep is one of the most underrated ways of improving your work/life balance. And if you’re worried that a couple more hours of shut-eye will eat into your personal time, consider this: when you’re exhausted, you’re spending more time at work to achieve less, and enjoying your time spent at home less, too. A decent night’s sleep drastically improves your mood and concentration level. Ultimately, this will make you more productive at work and adding enjoyment to your personal life as well.
Create a schedule.
Writing a to-do list is helpful, but you’ll find it more beneficial if you actually establish a work schedule for your day. Start by working out how many hours you plan on being at work. Then allocate an estimated time frame for each task, even for the bigger projects. Avoid falling into the trap of spending the first couple of hours responding to calls and emails. Instead factor in some time to address these too if they’re non-urgent.
Make time for yourself.
Creating a schedule doesn’t just apply to tasks; it is equally important to factor in some downtime for yourself to relax and unwind. This could mean spending time with your family or friends, taking your dog to the beach, or any activity that helps you mentally and physically switch off. Take a holiday and shut off from work completely. Even if you don’t actually go anywhere, it’s just important to take that time away for yourself. Recharge the batteries and come back refreshed.
Realise that balance isn’t everything
I bet you didn’t see this one coming, but it’s true, and many people will not understand. In order to perfect work/life balance over the long term, there will be times when there is a significant lack of balance. If you’re working on a major project for 10 or 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, then sacrifices will be made. The sooner you accept this for what it is, the sooner you can just get on with the job and stop stressing about finding balance. The good part about this is that it goes both ways. Putting in huge hours is not sustainable in the long run. Fortunately, though you will encounter quiet work periods where you can focus more on your personal life, and there’ll be times where you spend weeks away from work altogether. Sometimes, it’s just part of the lifestyle.
Keep it in perspective.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the demands of work life and pressures of our personal life. When you find yourself pulling your hair out and on the verge of a meltdown, ask yourself this: will this problem matter in one year from now? The answer will almost always be: probably not. Don’t sweat the small stuff. So you missed your deadline. Your launch was pushed back a couple of months. You missed a flight. So what? Nothing and no one in life is perfect. In your bid to attain perfection, you will only drive yourself loopy.
There really is no magic wizardry or scientific process behind achieving the perfect work/life balance. What’s perfect for one person will be completely different for another. But if you focus on some these factors, you’ll be well ahead of the game when it comes to being organised in your life. As well as being present, consistent, and accountable; and above all – happy.
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