How many times have you found yourself wishing for an extra hour in the day, or searching for tips for a better work/life balance? These days it's common to feel rushed off your feet all the time – building careers, nurturing relationships, raising families, exercising and healthy eating are all supposed to be neatly packed into each day, along with at least seven hours sleep…if you’re feeling pushed to the limit, here’s the tips for a better work/life balance you really need to achieve that sought-after balance.
First, make a note of everything it is that you do. And I mean everything – for any tips for a better work/life balance to work, you need to know exactly what you need to fit in! Shopping? Check. Cooking? Check. List everything from chores to date nights, kids' clubs to work requirements. Then prioritize them. What absolutely has to be done exactly how it is, and what could be changed to make life a little easier?
Next thing about your job. Whether it’s full-time or part-time, something you love or just something that pays the bills, most people invest a lot more time into their job than they are actually paid for. I know I do! Work out exactly where you fit into your organization, what your responsibilities are and what would you change? Thinking through everything in some dedicated time can make it much easier to find things that you could switch up, or to decide if a different job may suit you better.
Now, look through your list of priorities and see where your health is. Do you have time to go see your doctor? See a therapist or a masseuse? Go for a run, or get down to the gym? Fit people (and that means anyone who exercises, rather than just elite athletes!) tend to cope with life much better than their less-active counterparts, so making time to get out there even for twenty minutes will make you feel better. Trust me – I couldn’t possibly see how I’d fit a run into my day, which was already heaving, but I feel so much better now that I do – and it’s well worth staying up for half an hour longer to get it done.
Got a routine? Most people do – but it doesn’t mean it’s the right one. Try playing with it to see if a less-obvious routine would suit you better. Go to bed late at the moment? Try jumping into bed an hour earlier, and getting up earlier too. If you cook fresh, try batch cooking at weekends. If you aren’t feeling focused, get shirts ironed the night before, and use half an hour in the morning to go for a run. It might feel terrible – routines are comforting, that’s why we like them – but you might find the perfect routine for you, and it’s not likely to be what you’d expect!
We are all used to feeling everything is out of our control – we have to go to work, we have to go shopping, we have to hoover at least once a week. Steal back some control, and your work/life balance will see an instant improvement! Could you work from home one day a week, for example? Condense kids' clubs to be on just one night, rather than spread through the week? Use a cleaner, or an ironing service? Work out how you can get more control over how much time you spend doing different things, and give a few a test. It’ll improve your work/life balance like you won’t believe.
This recession sucks, and the economy seems to be taking its sweet time to recover, so you’d be forgiven for feeling insecure. Many people find they spend much longer than they think worrying each day – it’s easy to lose ten or fifteen minutes an hour to anxieties and worries, and that soon adds up! Making a plan B will reduce your worries, and give you that time back. Ask yourself what you’d do if your job was to disappear. Get to work on putting some of the steps in place – revamping your CV, for example, or looking at qualifications.
It’s completely natural to find work intrusive sometimes. If you are constantly answering work emails, checking your calendar and answering calls, or even preparing documents or writing out notes, you’ll never feel fully off-duty. Put steps into place to rebuild your sanctuary – check your email once when you get home, and then stop them from coming through until the next morning. Give yourself an ‘emergency hour’ for work that REALLY can’t wait, and schedule everything else for tomorrow. You’ll feel so much better when you’ve actually clocked off for a while.
Of course, one of the best tips for a better work/life balance is to talk to your friends and family. Make time to socialize, and to nurture yourself on your own – and make sure you’ve given all the tips above a decent chance to get working! I promise you’ll be surprised at how effective they are. Got a tip for achieving a great balance? I’d love to hear it!
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