Do you feel like you’re meeting the demands of both your work and personal life? If the answer is no, you may need to look into your work/life balance.
This is defined as the time you devote to leisure and personal care versus the amount of time you spend at work. Leisure time is essential to happiness and health, but 12.8% of the UK working population are spending more than 50 hours a week at work.
“Long working hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress,” warns the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). The OECD has created a Better Life Index, which compares factors that affect well-being across the world. The UK currently ranks 28th out of 28 countries for work/life balance.
This means we’re not spending enough time doing basic things like relaxing, exercising, hobbies, socialising, spending time with our families and even personal care like eating and sleeping.
It doesn’t look good for the UK workforce, but what can we do about it?
The first thing you can do is find out how you can improve your own work/life balance and consider some of the following strategies to take back your leisure time.
- Decide what balance means to you
Is it taking the kids to school, a full day at work with a lunch-time run and putting your kids to bed at the end of the day? Or is it getting up at 6am, cycling to and from work, finishing work at 3pm and spending the rest of the day painting? Whatever works for you is good as long as you feel as though neither your work nor your life is taking too much priority over the other.
- Schedule down time
Leisure activities like family time, hobbies, exercise and date nights should be built into a busy schedule and given just as much importance as meetings and pitches. Over time, it will make you happier and more motivated at work too.
- Leave your work at work
Technology means that it can be impossible to escape the office. Your emails go directly to your smartphone and you can access files from anywhere – but this doesn’t mean you have to. When you leave the office at the end of the day, write a to-do list of outstanding tasks, turn off your computer and leave it alone until you’re back in the next day. There will always be more work and deadlines in the future, so give yourself a break and you’ll be more prepared to deal with them.
Instead, focus on meeting your deadlines when you’re actually in the office. Which brings us to the next point.
- Work smarter, not harder
Have you ever stopped to work out how much time you really spend on certain tasks? Try keeping a log of your activities for a week and you’ll be surprised how much time you waste on things you don’t really need to. Learn to prioritise your most urgent tasks, delegate what you can, and say no to things that don’t actually matter to you but you normally feel obligated to do.
- Don’t worry about being perfect
If you’re overworked, you need to stop worrying about things being perfect and be satisfied with ‘good enough,’ or the work will never stop. You’re needlessly putting pressure on yourself, so try to let it go.