If you’re stuck beneath a mountain of paperwork come 6pm and there’s a host of chores awaiting you at home, it might be time to re-evaluate your work/life balance. Managing your time effectively between both your career and your personal life can be a job in itself and when you’re stretched too thin in either area, it can be hard to do either job justice and can leave you feeling frustrated and stressed. It’s paramount to your success in both your professional and personal life to pay heed to your mental health and take care of your needs. Mastering the balance is down to assessing your values and figuring what brings you greatest satisfaction; think hard about what makes you happy – personal fulfilment is the key to productivity.
To help you re-establish vital order and perspective across the board, here are our top tips on how to work to live – and not solely live to work:
Create your own definition. Work/life balance is different for everyone and whilst there is simply no one-size-fits-all approach, you may feel compelled to imitate someone else’s lifestyle. But it’s important to find out what sort of day-to-day schedule is most meaningful to you. As long as you find your life fulfilling, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
Learn to prioritise. Clearly communicate your boundaries and limit – sans guilt. Reason with yourself that if you can’t devote 100% to everything you aim to do, you’re selling yourself short. You should be able to confidently draw a line and decide what is important and what isn’t: do fewer things and do them well.
Consider how your performance evolves throughout the day. Scientific research shows that people vary widely in terms of when they’re at their most energetic, creative and receptive during the day. Pay attention to your own chronotype (the biological schedule that determines your personal propensity for sleep) and behave correspondingly – it may help you to improve how productive you are throughout the day, thereby signalling the most appropriate time for focused work time and recreational enjoyment.
Accept that life is not perfect. Make peace with the fact that some days it will be unrealistic to conduct your regular routine, as challenges and obstacles will crop up unexpectedly. This will increase your ability to be flexible during a change of circumstance, whilst simultaneously fuelling your discipline to resume your routine afterwards.
Our work and home lives are interconnected. Each directly impacts the other. Give each area as much importance, respect the necessity of both and mindfully manage your relationships at home and at work.
Feel in control of your time. It’s crucial to your wellbeing to feel behind the wheel of your life and not in the passenger seat. Research shows the happiest people are busy – but not rushed. Appreciate that you are the gatekeeper of your time and effort and spend it wisely.
Be open to change. Accept that what matters to you now, may not in the future. Your priorities will naturally alter over time; perhaps you will change career, or start a family. Be prepared for your values and schedule to shift and make routine adjustments accordingly.