Technology is so advanced you can literally be plugged in around the clock, meaning workers are more connected than ever. 24/7 access to the internet and remote connections to the office mean we are no longer only working 9am-5pm each weekday. This has become one of the main contributing factors towards a poor work-life balance, which studies show can result in unhealthy levels of stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity.
As the end of the year quickly approaches it’s a good time to think about how you’ll regain work-life balance, or improve it, in the year ahead. I’ve come up with some tips to help you on your way.
1. Set your priorities
Think of your top five work priorities. Ask yourself, “If I could only focus on the most important task at work, what would it be?” – this is your top priority. Then think about what would you focus on next – this becomes your second priority and so on.
2. Track your time
For one week track how much time you spend performing your priority tasks and how much you spend on the things that don’t align with these priorities. For example, perhaps you wanted to spend time on a specific project but when you started tracking your activity you find you’re are spending too much time just responding to email requests or in unnecessary meetings. How can you eliminate these things from your day?
3. Respect your own time
An emergency would most likely have to come up before you rescheduled an important work meeting. Give your own time the same respect.
When you are spending time with your family or friends, focus solely on them. When you are at lunch with friends or your child’s sports game, turn off your mobile phone, tablet and laptop and don’t think about work. It is so easy to be ever-connected but studies show you’ll perform better and enjoy activities more if you give them all of your focus.
4. Do something you look forward to everyday
Whether it is playing tennis with a friend, walking the dog, kicking a ball with the kids, reading a book or cooking up a storm, make sure you take time to do it every day. It doesn’t have to be a long time, start off with just half an hour.
5. Take a holiday
You are given four weeks annual leave a year (in Australia), so use them. You don’t have to go far. In fact, you don’t have to go anywhere at all. Spend time with your family and friends, walk the kids to school and pick them up, meet a friend for lunch, go to the movies or head to the beach.
6. Ask for help
Many companies are encouraging employees to achieve a work-life balance. Tell your boss and colleagues you are seeking a better work-life balance and what your plans are to achieve it and ask them to respect it. I am sure they will.
7. Learn how to say “no”
You don’t have to say yes to every request that comes your way. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule or align with your priorities, don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on more.
It is also important to evaluate your work-life balance on a regular basis as your priorities and life change. What are your tips for achieving a work-life balance?