Tips to maximise your work-life balance

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 16:45
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Sometimes it seems work can take priority in our lives. You’re working hard on your career, want to climb the ladder and get that promotion. How do you find time to do things outside of work? Creating and maintaining a work-life balance improves your overall wellbeing and is still important for your career.

Work-life balance is where you place equal priorities on both your career demands and the demands of your personal life. While it won’t always be perfect, work-life balance is possible. You will need to make a commitment to yourself to work towards it and to work at maintaining it.

Things that can affect your work life balance include increasing work responsibilities, longer hours at work, family responsibilities such as caring for children or elderly relatives, and more responsibilities at home.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance helps you to function better at work, be less stressed and less inclined to burnout, and improve your overall wellbeing. This is better in the long run for both you and your employer. At the end of the day, it’s a personal thing and only you know what works best for you.

Find a job you love Everybody needs a job but if you don’t like your job, you won’t be happy and this affects your overall wellbeing given how much work is a big part of our lives. So, make sure that you find enough excitement and challenge in your work that you want to get out of bed and go to work each day. If you’re in an unpleasant work environment, don’t like the people you work with or doing work you don’t enjoy, then perhaps it’s time to find a new job.

Take advantage of your employer’s wellbeing offerings Many employers provide workplace environments and policies that can contribute to helping you to maintain work-life balance. These include flexible work arrangements, discounted access to health funds, discounted gym memberships or family friendly policies. Accessing these measures can help to lessen stress in certain situations. For example, not having to commute on certain days, or being able to work at home to take a family member to the doctor.

Take a holiday Taking a holiday can help you relax and unwind from work and take a set period of time out. Whether it’s a weekend trip away or a longer one overseas or interstate, a holiday will allow you recharge both mentally and physically. A vacation is one of the best ways to completely switch off work and focus on doing something different in a fresh, new location. By planning properly within your team, you can ensure that the workload is shared and you can come back to work re-energised and refreshed.

Keep up your hobbies When you switch off from work, make sure you do things that give you pleasure such as your hobbies, be it hiking, swimming, reading, exercise or other sports. If you are keen to try a new activity, attending classes or group exercises at a set time each week is a great way to take an enforced break. Taking time out to do the things you enjoy or to learn something new also gives you a sense of achievement and wellbeing.

Set boundaries and ground rules When you leave work, avoid thinking about work and answering those emails and phone calls. Become disciplined about receiving phone call or emails very late after hours. Set a cut-off time for work hours. Switch off each day by making a time to do so and keep to it. While you may have to attend to some issues on occasions, this shouldn’t become a regular thing. Let your colleagues know when you cannot be accessible due to your personal commitments or activities so they learn to understand and respect your boundaries.

Set goals What are the most important things to help you achieve a work-life balance and choose to make these a priority. Use your calendar at work to organise your work commitments, review and update your to-do list regularly and set certain times of the day to respond to emails – you don’t have to answer these as soon as they hit your inbox. Delegate where you can and with deadlines. Planning and prioritising your work commitments for the day or week can help you be more productive and avoid time wasting activities. Knowing you’ve structured your work day to complete tasks can help you to relax outside of work.

Prioritise your health If you get sick, you can’t work. So, it’s important not only for yourself, but also your employer to maintain a healthy work life balance. If you get sick, see your doctor sooner rather than later. Soldiering on may only mean you will need to take more time off to recover later. Explore flexible working options to allow you to attend the doctor on a morning you may be working from home and utilise your sick leave. Make time to keep your physical and mental health on an even keel. Staying healthy keeps you happy too.

Make time for family and friends Don’t let you job become your life. Plan for personal time with family and friends and those who are important to you. Make a date night with your partner each week and stick to it. Set a time to catch up with family or do something fun with a friend or group of friends on a weekend or after work. Switching off to enjoy the company of those close to you helps you leave thoughts about work behind. Don’t neglect your personal relationships as these are important for your mental health and wellbeing too.

Take time out Make time to take time out. This allows you to think about other important things in your life without the impact of work on your mind. It allows space for creativity and new ideas and thinking to emerge. You could do something as simple as meditation or a massage, or other relaxing activities that can take your mind off work, even for a short time. Taking time out will mean you’ve more energy when you return to work.

Take a break at work You might be working long hours so taking a break during your working day is a small step that you can take at work to recharge and regenerate. Get out of the office if you can. Simply take a walk outside in the sunshine at lunchtime, sit somewhere with a view or somewhere new and different to eat your lunch - and don’t sit at your desk. Set one day a week where you grab a work colleague and go out for lunch and don’t talk about work. Taking a break from your work allows you to get back to it refreshed and ready to complete that task, leaving you more time outside of work for other things.