In the fast-paced, digital world that we live in, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate work from leisure and create a satisfying work-life balance. Now that we’re constantly online, whether on our phones, tablets or laptops, we’re expected to be available on demand to our friends, families, and even to our bosses. So how can we create a distinction between our work and home lives, and make time to do the things we love? Although it might be challenging, especially if you have a very demanding job, it is possible to make small changes that will help you to manage your work-life balance better and be a more effective worker as well as a happier person.
Learn to Switch Off
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to balancing work with other aspects of your life is mentally switching off after work. If you’re still thinking about work when you’re spending time with friends and family, playing sports or practicing a hobby you enjoy, your brain will have the same stress response that it does when you are at work. It’s also likely that you won’t be focusing on the people or activities that you’re spending precious time on, so you won’t be enjoying yourself as much as you could be. Practicing being present in the moment, whatever it is that you’re doing, is a really important skill that can help you to be more focused and relaxed. A good way to start is to try a meditation app for just ten minutes each day, which will teach you how to take time to breath and concentrate. You can then apply this to your everyday life and learn to focus your mind on the present moment instead of thinking about work.
One of the main stress factors in today’s typical working environment is the constant presence of technology. Our smartphones are always with us, and reflect our status as always being available to the demands of others. Switching your phone off when you’re with friends or doing a specific activity might sound drastic, but it will certainly help you to enjoy your time more and prevent you from being distracted by email alerts and texts. Another option is to stop work emails from going to your smartphone, choosing instead to read and answer them only during work hours. This will help you to stay present and avoid blurring the lines between your work life and your home life.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Many high achievers grow up as perfectionists and expect things to be as easy when they become adults as they were when they were children. The reality, unfortunately, is that having a household to look after, a social calendar to organise and a family to spend time with make it almost impossible to do everything perfectly. While there are advantages to perfectionism, it has also been shown to be linked to high levels of anxiety, which can only cause problems when it comes to creating a satisfying work-life balance.
Prioritise Your Life
Many of us spend most of our days in a state of stress, trying to complete an impossibly long list of tasks that we know we don’t have time to finish. Rather than attempting to do everything and then feeling like a failure when you can’t, or staying late at work to try and get more done, you could prioritise the things that you really do need to get done. Be realistic and think about whether you can delegate tasks to other people or postpone some until tomorrow. It’s okay to ask for help; you’re only human after all.
Another important thing to think about in relation to prioritising is what parts of your life are the most important to you. Everyone has different priorities, so take some time to think about what yours really are. If you realise that work isn’t as important to you as a hobby you’re passionate about or spending time with your family, then consider changing the structure of your time. Working less hours might mean you have less money, but it will also mean that you have more time to spend on the things you really enjoy.
Consider a Role Change
If you don’t want to completely change your career but are finding your current job too demanding, you could consider changing to a slightly different role in the same industry. Even extremely busy sectors such as healthcare have some roles with flexible working hours. If you currently work full time as a nurse or other healthcare professional, consider looking for something more flexible such as careers that fit around family life. The same applies to teachers, lawyers and other time-heavy professional roles. If working long hours doesn’t make you happy, consider changing something rather than sticking it out and spending time doing something you don’t enjoy.