Work–life balance is a concept that involves creating equilibrium between the different aspects of our lives. It requires prioritising career with lifestyle pursuits like sport, health, leisure, diet and relaxation and learning to blend these often conflicting things successfully. Many of us are time poor, and struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Small business owners sometimes tell me that work is all-consuming and interferes with or prevents them from doing other activities. A ‘balanced’ life should include time for family, friends, work, exercise, leisure and having adequate sleep. Increasingly, work is the main culprit that’s pushing us out of balance.
But the idea of work-life balance can be misleading. It implies that work and lifestyle are mutually exclusive. Work is an important part of most people’s life that ideally is meaningful, enjoyable and can create a sense fulfilment. It creates financial support for the important things, but when it’s all consuming and dominates our lives it can lead to stress and burnout. Digital technology has enabled many people to work at home or just about anywhere. This means there is now flexibility of working hours which has been a great thing for many. For others it’s meant the workplace has now invaded the home permanently and some people never seem to be able to switch off and leave work at all.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain a healthy work – life balance:
1. Small things can make a difference
It’s not necessary to make major changes to bring more balance to your life. Small changes that are achievable and that are gradually introduced will make a big difference. Things like leaving work early one night a week to play tennis or attend a yoga class, or having a weekend away every couple of months will make a big difference. If you slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you, this will go a long way to improving work life balance. Even during a busy day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will rejuvenate you like going for a walk, meditating or listening to music. It’s important to make time for the small things that give you joy.
2. Avoid activities that waste time and energy
We all seem to be time poor these days so avoid activities or people that waste your time or don’t enhance your work or personal life. Valuable time can be saved by not spending it online or on social media sites for example, or by not making personal calls or spending time at work chatting with colleagues you don’t need to be with. These habits are sucking up time you could be spending in a more productive and valuable way.
It’s often hard to find time for exercise when you’re so busy, but making time for this is a vital part of maintaining good health and restoring balance to your life. The benefits of exercise are numerous. It’s been proven to boost energy levels, help you to concentrate and be more mentally alert. Regular exercise also reduces stress and anxiety, prevents cognitive decline, sharpens memory and increases productivity.
4. Include leisure activities in your schedule
When you plan your time, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and other activities that help you recharge. If a night out with friends or day trip somewhere fun with the family is scheduled, then you’ll have something to look forward to and a motivation to manage your time well so you don’t have to cancel. If you plan a regular activity with your family, like going to a movie or the park, every Sunday afternoon for example, you’re making the effort to spend quality time together which will help with work – life balance.
5. Outsource time-consuming tasks
Maybe you can outsource some of your time-consuming household tasks to make more time for those things that are important. You could order your groceries online and have them delivered, or get someone to mow your lawn. Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office. Have a cleaner do your house once a month or fortnight. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you may discover that the cost is actually not that high and the time you’ll save will make it worth it.
6. Wellness and mindfulness phone Apps
You might even wish to get a wellness and mindfulness App for your Smartphone like Headspace or Happify. These are meditation Apps that can provide the user with regular ‘mindfulness practice’ through meditation. They also claim to be an effective treatment for stress and worry. By choosing the sessions to suit your mood and lifestyle, they help promote greater focus, creativity, better relationships as well as peace of mind and wellbeing.