It’s the age-old dilemma. How to make sure that you are not working so hard that you cannot enjoy the rewards it brings to your personal life while resisting the urge to slack off at work in favour of having fun elsewhere. Getting your work-life balance right is considered so important that it has become the focus of National Work Life Week’, a UK-wide initiative taking place between 2 and 6 October this year.
So, how can you get the balance right? Here are some ideas.
1. HAVE FUN AT WORK
While work can be serious and challenging, it should also carry an element of fun. Presumably, you chose to work in the sphere that you do because you have an interest in it and a sense of satisfaction in playing your part. It can be easy to forget the fun part, so make sure you take time out as a team to re-connect and enjoy the company of like-minded people who also have an interest in your chosen sector. Team-building events can be a wonderful way to do just that, as well as to make new friends at work and benefit from different people’s perspectives.
2. DON’T BRING WORK HOME WITH YOU
This one is a little harder to achieve, as there will inevitably be times when you will need to finish off a report or log on to some emails while you are at home. However, as a general rule, try to keep the two domains of work and home separate. It could be better to stay a little later at the office to complete a task, rather than trying to do it at home, when you will not notice the time ticking by quite as much as if you are still at work. Think of your home as your retreat away from the pressures of work, not as an additional office space.
3. THINK LONG-TERM
No-one will say on their death-bed that they wish they had worked harder in life and spent less time with their family or enjoying doing the things they loved. It is obviously important to work so that you can afford the things you need and want. However, letting short-term work projects and business concerns take precedence in your mind over your longer-term life goals and desires can stop you enjoying your life. Making happy memories and personal connections with friends and family will give you much more to look back on with joy and pride in your achievements.
4. STAY FIT AND HEALTHY
Working too hard, skipping lunch and neglecting the gym in favour of longer working hours will all have negative effects on your body sooner or later. Looking after yourself will not only enable you to be more productive at work but, more importantly, to enjoy your leisure time more fully without being compromised by pain or health concerns or having to visit medical specialists to get you back on track. Avoid too many stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol and seek help if you find yourself relying on these to get through the day. Get regular exercise, even if it is just walking to the office, going for a lunchtime run or attending a dance class after work.
5. HAVE NON-WORK GOALS TOO
Working towards a goal that has nothing to do with your work is both enjoyable and advantageous to your mental health. It doesn’t matter what you choose – acting in an amateur dramatic production, going for a martial arts belt or growing marrows for a garden show competition. It will show you that you can achieve great things outside of the office, and will give you a huge sense of enjoyment and self-worth. Who knows, it may even lead your career in a whole new direction…
6. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE
Maintaining a loyal circle of friends is hugely important to the work-life balance. If you cancel on your friends too many times for work reasons, not only will you annoy them, but your mental and physical health will start to suffer. It is crucial to connect with those we love and to make our personal relationships matter. So, book those tickets to the match, reserve a table at your favourite restaurant and accept that invitation to your niece’s 8th birthday party. Your office planner won’t be able to make you laugh and smile quite like your loved ones can.