With work taking up most of our daytime hours, it's easy for it to dictate the rest of our life. Work allows us to pay for the roof over our heads, for the lights to stay on and to ensure we have enough in our ‘rainy day’ piggy bank for fun trips such as holidays. For this reason it is easy for work to take precedence over our time and energy.
With technological advances, we are now able to answer emails on the go, take meetings at the weekends and for the office to ring our mobile when we are at dinner. This constant access between us and our work has meant that a healthy work-life balance is harder to achieve now more than ever. Couple this with increased expectations from our employers and pressure to put in 110% Monday to Sunday, our personal lives can become non-existent.
Maintaining a positive work-life balance is imperative for our mental health, our relationships and it even helps us to be more productive when we are working. Having time when we are completely switched off from work allows us the time to spend quality time with the ones we love and put in a little ‘self care’ time too. So what are some healthy daily habits that we can implement to establish a healthy work-life balance?
Healthy habits for a work-life balance
Turn on ‘out of office’
This is one we can all be guilty of! It may be such a simple thing, but switching emails to ‘out of office’ at the end of the day and on the weekends can allow you to set clear boundaries on when you are working and when you are not. You may be thinking “but what if an emergency email comes through?”. We can bet that this rarely ever happens, and if it does, it can probably wait till the next day or Monday morning! If you leave your emails on, even if you don’t get any ‘emergencies’ through, you will be constantly checking them in case they do anyway. So do yourself a favour and switch off! This daily habit will help you to reclaim your evenings and weekends, allowing yourself to truly decompress from work.
Write a list
Another important daily habit to implement is writing lists. If you write a list of all the things you need to do for the next day you will be physically emptying your mind of work. You can go home and close your laptop knowing that all of your tasks are organised and noted. Without writing a list you may find yourself thinking about work whilst cooking dinner or trying to fall asleep at night… “I must remember to send that email tomorrow”, “I have to hand in that presentation tomorrow at this time!”
Let go of being a perfectionist
As a kid it is easy to be a perfectionist. You can get 10/10 for your spelling test, have perfectly tied shoes and turn up to every lesson 5 minutes early. When we get older though, life gets more complicated and it becomes harder to maintain this perfectionist way of life. If you hold yourself to these ‘perfect’ standards everyday, you will inevitably feel discouraged and deflated. Adult life comes with more hurdles and obstacles and it is okay to not be perfect ALL THE TIME. You will make mistakes and that is okay. As long as you learn from them that is all anyone can ask of you. Just make sure you don’t stay hours after work to finish something ‘perfectly’ or beat yourself up all weekend because of a small mistake. You’re only human!
If you don’t set boundaries at work your boss will keep piling on the workload. “Jessica worked last weekend, she can have this done by Monday morning!”, “Dan always replies to his emails past 9 pm, I will call him at night with this task!”. It is important to find what you are okay with and set those boundaries. If you don’t want to work weekends, tell them. If your evenings are for quality family time, set out of office emails. Remember, it is a healthy habit to sometimes say ‘no’.
Make your own rules
What is a good work-life balance for your colleague may not work for you. If they are working till 10 pm at night and all through the weekend, this doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Allow yourself to accept that you all have different personal circumstances and it is okay to make your own rules about the work-life balance you need. Find out what you need to enjoy your home life, whilst also being productive at work and set those expectations!