These days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for employees to switch off from their job. We start to slide into bad habits that can often blur the distinction between work and life. Whether it’s replying to e-mails on the couch or constantly thinking about deadlines, not being able to enjoy your time outside of work can start to be a problem.
Acknowledging the importance of a work-life balance is the first step in recognising that you might need to make some changes to your day. Though it might seem daunting – even difficult – at first, there are plenty of healthy habits you can use to maintain a positive work-life balance. Here, we’ll present some things you can do to increase the distance between your work and your life.
Limit time-draining activities
Even with a lengthy to-do list to get through, many of us will be tempted to procrastinate at some point or another. From spending too much time checking e-mails and mindlessly refreshing your favourite sites to engaging in office small talk, limiting the number of activities that often end up taking up your time means you can focus on your work and get home on time.
If you’re tempted to trawl the internet, then productivity software like Freedom, LeechBlock or RescueTime can block sites you might be tempted to visit. When it comes to emails, consider turning off notifications and replying in batches during limited times each day. Drawing up boundaries so you can devote quality time to your duties and complete them can, ultimately, be very rewarding.
If you’re looking to free up more time for your home life, then it’s important to stop trying to do everything yourself. Delegating effectively in the office, and at home for that matter, can help to distribute the workload so that you don’t have to make those jobs a priority.
Learn to say no
Following on from the above, it’s important to let people know when you simply can’t take on any more work at the minute. Learning to harness the power of saying no can have huge benefits on your work/life balance. If you’re a naturally ambitious and motivated person this might be tough to do, but giving yourself perspective and prioritising what needs to be done can help you to recognise the value in a balanced life.
If you’re stacked with work, resist the urge to take on more and politely decline when asked. You’ll be glad you did when 5 pm rolls around and you get to leave while everyone else is stuck at their desk.
While perfectionism might look like a positive thing, if you’re in the habit of trying to make everything perfect, you’ll know that it’s next to impossible to attain and maintain. It might’ve been easier to keep going as a child, but when the responsibilities in your job and personal life grow, it becomes less do-able. Factor in your team, and perfectionism can put stress and pressure on all of those you work with, too.
Constantly striving to perfect your duties can lead to burn out, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t try, consider striving for something more achievable, like excellence.
Turn off the tech
Technology can undoubtedly be a huge benefit to your business, streamlining certain tasks and automating repetitive duties that free you up to focus on other things. However, technology is also increasingly ubiquitous and our inability to put down, log out and switch off our phones and tablets can make it feel like the working day is continuing long into the evening.
If you’re out with family or friends, then resist the urge to send texts or emails to colleagues. Checking your phone for work-related things regularly creates a force of habit, turning you into a more reactive, stress-prone person who can’t separate their work from their free time. Consider designating a specific time or day to tie up the loose ends post-work if you have to.
Create some boundaries
Adding to the last point, setting firm boundaries and then sticking to them can help you to change the mind’s focus from work to downtime, allowing you to better enjoy your rest and relaxation. Whether it’s switching off your work mobile over weekends or not discussing work at the dinner table, creating some boundaries will help stop your work encroaching on things when you’re back home.
Make use of your downtime
When you’ve finished work for the day, it’s important to ensure you actually make use of your time in a meaningful way. Whether it’s watching a movie with your family or investing in a hobby, a busy social life can contribute to happiness and wellbeing outside of the office. It’s important to not let work define you, and stocking your calendar with plenty of social activity can make sure you aren’t letting your job get the best of you. If there’s something you’re struggling with at work, it helps to come back to it with a refreshed, refocused mind.
Wind down before bedtime
Getting plenty of sleep leaves you refreshed and recharged before the day ahead. Making shut-eye a priority repairs the body, reduces stress and can increase productivity once you’re in the office, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re properly winding down before you get into bed. Limiting the amount of time spent in front of a screen is advisable; there’s plenty of science that says the glare of phones and tablets can disrupt our own circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin secretion, which are both crucial to getting your head down at night.
Having a set bedtime can help you to fall and stay asleep. This could be preceded by a routine you do each night, from minimising sound and distractions, keeping the room cool, and making sure things are comfy for when you lie down.
Avoid alcohol and large meals before bedtime too. They might make us feel sleepy but can wake you up a few hours later, and there’s nothing worse than being unable to sleep after waking in the middle of the night.
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