In one way or another, deep down we all strive for a healthy work-life balance. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Our jobs are an integral part of our lives, and so it’s imperative for us to nail that balance down.
But first, we should understand what a work-life balance actually is. When searching for ‘work-life’ balance, Google gives us a clear picture:
“The division of your time between work and family or leisure activities.”
Worklifebalance.com explains that this does not mean an equal balance of time between work and leisure, that’s simply not sustainable; there aren’t enough hours in the day. A more free-flowing and adaptable approach must be taken in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. With each individual having differentiating circumstances, it’s important to develop a balance that fits you and your needs.
the proof is in the survey
A survey developed by Wrike Project Management software saw that 39.2% of respondents work at least 5 hours overtime a week – the highest percentage in the survey and a scary figure don’t you think? Along with this, 26.7% of people who work late suffer from ‘overload’. Add to this that 46% of us feel overload at least once at work, and it’s clear to see that working late all of the time is not good for us!
why it’s important to have a healthy work-life balance
We might think “oh well, it’s the norm when trying to maintain a job, or develop a successful career” but the long-term health effects ‘overload’ causes may not be worth the hassle. It’s no secret; when we work longer hours, we experience more stress, we’re more susceptible to illness and can become and stay ‘run-down’ – something I don’t like the sound of personally! According to Healthline, the resulting effects of a stressful work-life balance can be anything from respiratory to muscular or mental illness; we may become depressed, struggle to sleep and can suffer from headaches.
If we’re not maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the stress can make us less sociable; resulting in deteriorating working and personal relationships, causing depression and stress. Going out for a coffee with a friend, or for dinner with a partner is part of what makes up human social connections. It’s well documented that having a healthy social life can help with everything from increasing our lifespan to reducing our chance of getting a cold or having a stroke later on in life.
From a work-related perspective, having a healthy work-life balance helps us to stay, whilst also increasing our productivity within our jobs. That’s right – spending less time working and more time socialising helps us to be more productive… to a certain degree.
Along with being more productive, being more sociable keeps our brains sharper, helping us to avoid memory loss as we age. A sharper you, is a more insightful you, leading to a more successful you.
The effects of having an unhealthy work-life balance extend beyond the working environment and into your home life. When we show an unfavourable balance towards work, we have less time to get our non-working life in order. This results in us rushing through the rest of the day to do our normal day-to-day things, which in turn, creates more stress on the mind and body.
This also reduces the time to do the things we enjoy in life. If we neglect our favourite hobbies, we reduce our creativity, fun and overall happiness. Again, this has a negative effect on our minds; we reduce our ability for critical analysis and conceptual thinking, as well as our ability to evaluate emotions and recognise the correct and acceptable responses.
how to create and maintain a healthy work-life balance
It’s not all doom and gloom, by reading this blog, you already recognise that there is a need in your life to re-balance your work-life scales… that’s the perfect first step to creating a healthy work-life balance. Here are some ways in which you can start to maintain a healthier work-life balance:
appreciate your end time
Whilst you don’t need to clock watch, you need to know when the day is over. Instead of leaving at 6:30pm or 7pm, leave when you should and plan some activities with the spare time you’ve accumulated. It may just be as simple as getting home early and putting the TV on or reading a book, but the extra time to unwind will have a really positive effect on your mind; reducing stress levels, increasing your immune system and enhancing your sleep. In turn, this will have a positive effect on your wellbeing at work.
our ‘Agility for a healthy work-life balance’ covers some of the ways in which you can make your day more balanced through being agile. To add to it, schedule your time well. Decide which tasks need a large amount of attention and detail, which do not. Plan your days out accordingly and have room for manoeuvre because there is always a big task waiting in the wind to be handed on to you.
eat healthy, be healthy
Healthier in body, healthier in mind. When we eat healthier foods, we are sharper, more focused and more productive. This reflects on our workload – if we’re sharper and more productive, we’re freeing up time post 5:30pm, rather than staying late to finish tasks we’ve set. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to be healthier at work, download our cheat sheet here.
energise yourself… at your desk
Did you know you can re-energise yourself by exercising at your desk? Sitting at a desk for hours on end is not healthy. Our spines weren’t designed to sit for long periods, nor stand for long periods either. You also shrink your leg muscles when sat down for too long so it’s important to stretch where you can. These 7 exercises are designed to combat workplace fatigue and increase your health within the workplace. They’ll also help your mind and work-levels too!
shorten your meetings
We covered this in our blog last year titled ‘your meeting took how long?’ but it’s an important topic to reiterate. There’s always a lot of buzz around whether meetings are productive or counterproductive to what a team are trying to achieve. Try decreasing your meeting time by at least 50%, this will free up valuable time to focus on your workload, allowing you to complete tasks efficiently and in working hours. With the reduction of meeting ‘waste’, you’ll have time to alleviate the pressure of having to stay late to finish things off.
You’re a glutton for your own punishment if you’re taking on too heavy a workload and not managing your time or stakeholder expectations well enough. Learn to manage your workload effectively by setting realistic milestones and results for both yourself and management. This way you give yourself breathing space to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
We’ve touched on this earlier in our post however, it’s imperative you socialise both in and out of work in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. With all the time, expectation management and productivity you’ve realised from the above points, you’ve allowed yourself the time to get social with colleagues and your friends. Use this time to fully appreciate their company, the moment you’re in and their relationship towards you. This will have a positive effect on your mindset and general workplace well-being moving forward.
What about you? Are there any techniques you’re trying that are physically helping you to create and maintain a healthy work-life balance? We’d love to hear from you, so do let us know in the comments below.