Whether you live to work or work to live, finding that perfect balance between work and everything else is one of the holy grails of modern living. Although our jobs allow us resources and freedom to choose how we live, it often ends up working the other way around, with our jobs becoming our identities.
Below, we’ll examine some major and minor practical changes you could be making to help reset the balance.
If you’ve just started a new job and are eager to make a good impression, saying yes to everything can be an easy trap to fall into. By all means be willing to help, but don’t feel as if every single task is your responsibility. Instead, learn to delegate if you’re in management or learn to say no once in a while if you’re on the other end of the stick. Of course, how often you can turn down tasks will depend on your unique situation. For self-employed workers, turning down work often means turning down a pay cheque. As a rule of thumb, if you’re already too busy, you’re better off focusing on the task at hand and finishing it rather than adding to the pile.
When you head home after a busy day, the hardest thing to do is to switch off and forget about the office. You may need to do some work at home from time to time, but make sure you create physical boundaries for yourself so that work and home remain separate entities. Do all home-based work from a dedicated office in order to compartmentalise more effectively and restrict yourself to an hour or two hours a day.
It’s almost impossible to cultivate a comfortable work-life balance if you’re not in the right job in the first place. Whilst you might be forgiven for thinking that work-life balance is all about finding more time outside of work, that’s not necessarily true. Indeed, if you actively enjoy your job and feel fulfilled by it, then you’re more likely to be able to switch off outside of work and feel settled and comfortable when in the office. Finding a job with a company culture that suits your personality and your skill set isn’t the slog it used to be. If you’ve fallen into a comfortable rut and feel as if you don’t belong in your current role, there are a number of specialist recruitment services available online. These services put you in touch with top recruitment professionals who pride themselves on being able to place the right talent with the right role.
A study published by Organisation Science found that managers could rarely tell the difference between the employees that genuinely worked 80 hour weeks and those that just said they did. This shows that while long hours might be appreciated, they rarely make that much of a conclusive difference. Although four day work weeks are years away from being mainstreamed in the west, there are firms around the world experimenting with it. Of course, a good middle ground would be making sure you restrict yourself to between 8 and 10 hours a day. Sometimes, coming back to something a day later can also lend a valuable fresh perspective to your work.
It might sound like a well-worn cliche, but every serious change starts from within. If you’re happier in yourself, you’ll be happier and more productive at work and more likely to comfortably separate work from home. Healthy living is a good start. If you live in the city, consider cycling to work instead of taking the tube, and instead of hitting the local Costa for lunch, why not prepare your own healthier alternative at home? Also, consider hobbies outside of work. Hobbies mean investing time and effort into something that has nothing to do with your day job and something that can be incredibly freeing and rewarding.