November 6, 2019
Achieving the right work-life balance can be a challenge. Germans work the most overtime in Europe (followed by Spain, the UK and Italy). UK employees work an average of 6.3 hours per week without pay, which equates to £3.2 billion in unpaid overtime every week in total.
Yet, a poor work-life balance can be damaging for the mental and physical wellbeing of us all – it also hinders performance. A poll of almost 2,000 employees found that most are productive for just three hours per working day.
Sometimes, it seems a given to work extra hours, check after-work emails and be in constant communication, as well as feeling stress over deadlines. Many professionals seem resigned to their fate, accepting that when it comes to work-life balance, the former will always dominate over the latter. I bet most of you reading the headline thought: What work-life balance?
Here’s the news: it doesn’t have to be that way. Despite all the stress, deadlines and pressures, it is possible to maintain a reasonable balance. Ironically, we have to work for that. Of course, some work environments may be more supportive in achieving a work-life balance, but even when that’s not the case, you can do a lot to stay organised, healthy and happy.
Make it a priority
Just like work is a priority, we should make our personal life a priority too. Free time has value. It’s what re-energises us to work another day and keeps us healthy. That doesn’t mean personal life is a greater priority than work, but it does mean that we value both equally.
Share your values
Even in the best work environment, values for work-life balance won’t be the same amongst colleagues. So we should talk and share values with each other and manage expectations. We might want to share our availability per week and set definitive hours when we can’t be reached. Unless we have to be ‘on-call’, it’s perfectly reasonable to not be available.
A quick reminder: don’t pick up work if you don’t have the time to complete it. Negotiate the amount of work that can realistically be delivered as no-one wins from low-quality results because there was no time or energy to deliver the best.
Life outside of work
We all have things we enjoy doing and we need to ensure we’re actually doing them. Carving out personal time is crucial for physical and mental health. During this time we can exercise, cook healthy food, meet with friends, watch Netflix, read a book, take a nap, etc. It’s much easier said than done, especially with challenging workloads and a 24/7 culture. But fully engaging with and enjoying the moments we’re away from work will help boost morale and overall happiness.
Set times to reply to emails
We are trained to be fast communicators and due to technology, we can respond in real-time faster than ever before. Therefore, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest, but generally there’s no need to reply to an email the second it flows into our inbox. Instead, we can set interval times throughout the day to reply to emails. Expecting an urgent email from a client or reporter? Keep your device at hand. If not, breathe a little.
When getting home late from work, it’s tempting to pick some high cholesterol junk foods to avoid the kitchen. But who cares for our health, if not us ourselves? Our health is what drives us to work better, so some healthy menus could help keep the doctor at bay. Also, stay hydrated all the time with adequate water consumption and, for those who want to achieve a lot with a little: take a walk each day for 15 minutes, the results may surprise you.