Ask someone how things are and a typical response these days is ‘you know, alright … working hard’. Achieving this elusive work/life balance is a challenge that has spawned a multi-million dollar industry.
Achieving a work/life balance is supposed to boost creativity, make life more enjoyable and make us more successful. However, to do this, it’s necessary to push back against the pressures of our 24/7 economy.
It’s something that people battle with all around the world, whether they work in a low paid job or a highly-skilled job. Whether the national culture is to work long hours, or not. Everyone has a different idea of work/life balance and, it seems, most of us still don’t have a definitive answer. However, there are certainly steps you can take, at home and at work, to keep your own work/life balance in check.
Determine how much of your life you want to give to your work and set specific parameters to stop it encroaching on your home life. For example, if you don’t want to work weekends, don’t. Ever. Maybe Friday nights is family time, or perhaps you’re happy to go in early, but not to work late in the week. Find something you’re happy with – and stick to it.
Having outside interests will make it easier to justify not allowing work time to encroach on your home life. Having a weekly hobby is a good step towards maintaining a good work/life balance.
When you aren’t working, turn off your work phone, log off your email and let anything that comes in wait. Our culture is one whereby we’ve come to expect instant responses, however, we also put ourselves under pressure to deliver instant responses too, even when an instant response isn’t needed. For most people, a 12-hour overnight delay in responding isn’t likely to cause a cataclysmic stock market crash.
We all want to be loved and valued. But the pressure to say yes to everything can mean that we’re run ragged trying to achieve the impossible. Whilst saying ‘No’ may be difficult, it can free you up to focus more effectively on those things you say yes to, reducing anxiety and stress in the meantime. If you feel under pressure to say yes, maybe it’s time to push back and maintain a strong but not rude ‘no’. Sometimes, providing an alternative such as ‘No, I can’t do it for tomorrow, but I’ll have it with you for the start of next week’ can be a good way to say no in a positive way.
If there’s a task you’re expected to complete, manage when you’re expected to deliver. Often, agreeing on a deadline with your colleague, boss or client, will be enough to take the pressure off and allow you to be more creative, or more relaxed in completing the task.
Perfectionists often struggle with completing tasks in the time available. Being so compelled to achieve perfection can mean that important tasks aren’t completed at all. So, before you set out to achieve perfection, think about whether perfect is really going to make such a difference, or is actually completing the task more important?
Don’t be afraid to delegate. Whether it’s housework, or work, providing someone is capable or can take direction as to what’s required, learn to let go. They may not complete a task in the same way that you would but, providing they get the right result, that’s ok. Sometimes our pursuit of perfection can make it difficult to delegate but ask yourself what the real impact will be if something isn’t done by you or in the way you would do it. You may surprise yourself.
Achieving a work/life balance isn’t easy, but you’re the only person who can make it happen for you. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org