Working is an important part of many of our lives. It enables us to put food on the table, clothes on our backs and heats our homes. However, in the fast-paced world that we live in today, sometimes we can let work take over. Finding it difficult to separate our work lives and our personal lives, we let work slowly but surely eat up more and more of our time.
Whether it’s replying to emails after hours on the way home from work, taking our laptop home for the weekend, or even just working later than planned. Unless it’s necessary, working outside of our set working hours isn’t always a positive thing.
There seems to be a belief that the harder you work, the better the results you’ll achieve. In fact, working too hard can result in burnout instead.
According to Mates In Mind, one in six UK workers are experiencing depression, stress or anxiety right now. While not all mental health problems are related to work, it is the case for some. It may sound cliché, but don’t work harder, work smarter. Achieving a good work-life balance can result in a higher productivity level, improved physical and mental health and happier life overall.
How Can You Achieve A Better Work-Life Balance?
Step Away/Clock Out
This should be the case both during and at the end of your working day. Don’t get into the trap of working through your lunch break and staying behind ‘just for fifteen minutes’ – which always ends up being over an hour. When lunchtime hits, leave your work area, whether that be going to the on-site canteen or taking a walk to a local shop. Enjoy your lunch break without thinking about work.
When you reach the end of the working day, put your tools down/turn off your laptop and clock out. Your working day is complete, and unless it’s an emergency, you can complete any unfinished work tomorrow. When you leave your working environment, whether an office in a skyscraper or a building site, don’t look back.
If you’re the kind of person that’s always taking on extra work, people may continuously ask you to do more. As a team player, you’ll want to help colleagues, and if you can help with something, why wouldn’t you?
If you continue down this road, you’ll end up overloaded, stressed and the quality of your work will suffer, and your work-life balance will become unbalanced. While it isn’t always easy, sometimes you have to say no. If you’re not comfortable doing that, reply with, “can I get back to you about that?” Give yourself time to truly weigh up whether you can fit the extra task into your working hours.
When you’re used to doing everything for yourself, it’s not an easy task to let others take over some of your workload, but sometimes it’s necessary. Start by prioritising your work. Focus your energy and time on the high-priority tasks that you want to complete. As for the smaller jobs, delegate them to or ask for help from those around you. As per the last tip, make sure you’re delegating tasks to someone who can handle them without becoming overloaded themselves.
Time away from work is a necessity, not a luxury. If a company employs you, they will allocate a set amount of holiday days to take each year. In the UK, the minimum holiday allowance for full-time employees is 20 days plus eight bank holidays. Make use of them all. Whether that’s taking a couple of extra days off each month, going away on a month-long holiday or taking mini-breaks throughout the year, use your holiday days in a way that suits you.
Have ‘Me’ Time
For a healthy work-life balance, make sure that you’re making time for yourself when you are away from work. Don’t spend all of your spare time running errands. Step away from it all to have some ‘me time’. That doesn’t have to mean meditation and face masks. It could be sitting in front of the TV watching a boxset, heading to the gym or even just taking a walk around your local park.
Want more about how to stay healthy in a working environment? Find out more about How To Stay Healthy In The Trades Industry.