Your complete guide to finding work-life balance
By Rikki Wimmer
Work-life balance is the key to well-being.
It’s National Work-Life Week in the UK, and unsurprisingly, the concept of work-life balance is at the centre of discussion. In a recent survey conducted by Robert Half UK, 39 per cent of workers revealed that they would leave their job for a better work-life balance. So, what exactly is work-life balance, why is it important and how do you achieve it? Keep reading for all the answers.
What is work-life balance, and why is it important?
Work-life balance refers to the amount of energy – both physical and emotional – an individual allocates to their work life in relation to other areas of their life, such as their personal life, family, health and well-being. Without a healthy work-life balance, employees can suffer stress, burnout, illness and strain on personal relationships, among other things. Therefore, the importance of work-life balance is critical for the health and productivity of workers across the UK.
Signs you need to reassess your work-life balance
You put in a significant amount of overtime, but you’re lacking job satisfaction
When working long hours, more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27 per cent), one-third feel anxious (34 per cent) and more than half feel irritable (58 per cent). There is a direct correlation between the number of hours an employee works and their level of happiness – the higher the hours, the lower the happiness and job satisfaction. If you’re putting in extra hours and it’s impacting your mental health, then you need work-life balance.
When you’re not at work, you spend a great deal of time worrying about work
Do you spend your workday stressed and overworked, only to go home and continue worrying about all the tasks still left on your to-do list? This is a rabbit hole that is all too easy to fall into. If work is consuming your energy and brainpower even after you’ve clocked off for the day, then you need work-life balance.
Your work is starting to negatively impact your personal life
If you’re starting to compromise on your personal life to make room for your work life, it’s time to shift your priorities. Whether it’s missing your Monday-night yoga class because you’re stuck at the office or bailing on after-work drinks with your colleagues because you feel like you simply can’t leave your desk yet, what may start as a once-off can swiftly become a habit.
It’s important to remember that your work life is only one part of your life and it shouldn’t dictate the rest of your existence. Finding that balance can be tricky, but it is achievable.
How to find work-life balance
Take a break
Do you often find yourself wondering why everyone else in your office manages to find time to take a lunch break, except you? Do you get annoyed when you see your colleagues walk out the door on time and you’re still stuck at your desk with an inbox the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica?
How do they do it, you ask?
Here’s the secret: They make the time. They prioritise it. Most companies understand that an overworked, overstressed employee is an unproductive employee. Prioritising a break is just as important as the next meeting scheduled in your calendar, so be strict with yourself and step away from the computer. Even if it’s only 15 minutes – walk outside, take a breath, get a coffee or a bite to eat, and give your brain a break. You’ll feel refreshed and more productive when you return.
Arrive on time and finish on time
It’s time to get real. If you can’t get your work completed during work hours, then your company is understaffed and they need to recruit more employees. However, if you take it upon yourself to arrive early, stay back late, or worse – take your laptop home and continue punching through emails at 11 p.m., then your manager won’t know that they need more staff. They’ll only see that you’re managing the workload and nothing will change.
So, write some new rules for yourself. Arrive on time and leave on time. Any work that doesn’t get completed during work hours that day will just need to wait until tomorrow.
Find moments to treat yourself
They say it’s the little things that count, and when it comes to getting through the workday with a smile on your face, sometimes the little things make all the difference. Try treating yourself to a coffee from the ‘good’ coffee place or taking five minutes to chat with a colleague about last night’s episode of “The Bachelor.” You could even try a massage on your lunch break, or simply find a quiet corner of the office to plug in your headphones and get on with the task at hand. Whatever brings you those moments of peace, prioritise them into your workday. You may have what feels like a ton of work to mow through, but finding these little pockets of joy can make it seem all the more manageable.
While many workplaces recognise the importance of work-life balance and are implementing employee initiatives to support this, it is largely up to the individual to take control of their happiness. If you feel like you’re constantly running up a mountain of paperwork and never reaching the summit, it’s time to re-think your work situation. Step away, reassess and take action. Don’t let your work life become your whole life.