Lucy Bielby on April 26, 2018
We all have to juggle our professional and personal lives and most of us wish we were better at it. Too often we seem to devote ourselves to one or the other, usually choosing our career over our home life.
However, recognising that your work/life balance could be improved is the first step to making those changes and getting things back on track doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think.
In a popular previous article we gave 8 tips for improving your work life balance, so in this article it made sense to take a closer look at the people who manage their work-life effectively and see what lessons we can learn from them.
So what habits can you pick up to improve your work life balance?
1. They start the day right
Starting the day in a rush immediately puts you on the back foot. Running late or rushing increases the amount of cortisol released inside the body which leaves you feeling stressed out and in a bad mood. This in turn makes you more likely to make mistakes and add to the stress. Prepare for the next day in advance and give yourself enough time to get ready for work and get you daily family duties out of the way without needing to rush around.
You could try setting aside an extra hour, or even half hour, to focus on yourself. Exercise in particular can help you mentally prepare for the day ahead.
2. They delegate effectively to manage their workload
If you want to have it all then you’re going to need to stop doing it all and that means you’re going to have to delegate both in the office and at home. Whether this means distributing your workload more equally around your team or hiring a cleaner so you’re not bogged down with domestic jobs at home, find a way to delegate the jobs that you don’t need to make a priority.
3. They keep their perspective and communicate when enough is enough
“No.” really is a powerful word and learning when to say enough is enough will immediately help your work/life balance. Ambitious and motivated people tend to push themselves to achieve the absolute maximum but if you regularly find yourself working an 80 hour week whilst your colleagues are always out the door at 5pm your family life will be suffering as a result. It’s easy to prioritise work but that puts extra strain on your relationships – keep your perspective and recognise the value and importance in having a balanced life, not just for your sake but for those closest to you.
4. They eat lunch
Anyone who’s seen the film ‘Wall Street’ knows Gordon Gecko’s infamous quote “lunch is for wimps”, but numerous studies have shown that mental performance, creativity and inspiration are negatively impacted by not taking a lunch break.
Taking a lunch break and getting out of the office allows you to recharge your batteries and decompress your mind. You’ll find you come back in the afternoon feeling more positive about the rest of the day.
5. They don’t ignore their family during the day
This definitely doesn’t mean talking to them constantly, but taking the time to send a short message or make a quick call will remind you that you have a life outside of the office and lets them know that you aren’t shutting yourself off from them.
6. They establish firm boundaries
This might be switching your work mobile off at weekends or not discussing work at the dinner table. Whatever it is, establish your boundaries and stick to them. Agreeing boundaries with your family will help stop your work encroaching on your home life.
7. They have fun at home
Scheduling time to do something enjoyable at home will mean that you’re more likely to leave work on time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re watching a film with your family or playing 9 holes of golf with colleagues, giving yourself an activity to look forward to once work is finished will encourage you to complete your work duties before the end of the day.
8. They are not defined by their work
One of the first questions you’re asked when you meet new people is “What do you do for a living?” and it can make you feel like you are your job. Having hobbies and interests outside of work helps steer the conversation onto topics that are more personal to who you really are.
9. They are eager to learn new things
Similarly to point 7 this is all about giving you something to look forward to when the work day is done. Reprioritise your personal life and create a new challenge for yourself by taking up a new hobby. It could be something as simple as joining a book club or starting to learn another language will help you feel like you’re self improving and give variety to your work life cycle.
10. They write down their goals and boundaries
If you have decided you’re going to make a change, write it down and make sure you stick to it. Research has shown that we are more likely to achieve the goals that we write down as the physical evidence of our goals stops any denial or ‘adjustment’ of what you set out to achieve. Put together a clear, actionable plan and regularly look at it to to remind yourself of the positive changes you’re going to make.