4 ways to achieve real work-life balance
Work-life balance can be an elusive concept. It’s not as simple as taking on new hobbies or getting out of the office on time, it requires careful analysis of how you spend your time.
It's important to consider you want to spend your time and what changes you can make to your routine, without sacrificing your professional growth. Fortunately, we have four tips to help you achieve better work-life balance.
Figure out what work-life balance means to you
Everyone will have different definitions of work-life balance. To help you determine yours, try drawing out a physical mind map with all the areas of your life- work, family, socialising, leisure, romance- and decide what your priorities are.
When it comes to your work targets breakdown what’s urgent and what’s important. This will allow you to set boundaries for yourself around ways of working. Don’t expect anyone else to do this for you. If you feel like your workload is too stacked or that you’re being asked to work unreasonable hours, you need to communicate that to your manager.
While taking on new challenges or responsibilities at work can be a really rewarding experience, don’t overwhelm yourself with an overly ambitious task list either. Instead, assess what time of the day are you most productive, what activities take you the longest and what projects you have coming down the line. This will help you to better compartmentalise your commitments and ultimately work smarter.
Do your research and make your case
To help find a better balance between life and work, look into your company’s policies around flexitime and remote working and see if there’s ways you can further maximise your time. Even if it’s not something currently on offer at your company it could be worth making the business case to your manager. Employees who are free to pursue passion projects and hobbies tend to be more productive and fulfilled in their work. They also have wider networks and better personal brands which can have a halo effect on the company image.
Be honest about your personal commitments and what you need from your employer to achieve balance. Within reason. Demanding less work so you have more downtime won’t get you too far but negotiating a workflow in which you have more autonomy over hours while still agreeing to your KPIs is not unreasonable. Research shows that more flexible working hours is the number one benefit sought by employees in 2018. To help retain their best talent, companies will need to be open to more accommodating policies as we get closer to the future of work.
If you want to be able to switch off in your downtime, you need to get comfortable with delegating tasks to your team or at least trusting them to carry out their own effectively. It can be difficult to hand over a project or a client to a colleague (or even your manager) but it’s the only way to ensure you’re truly leaving the office behind you. Similarly, try to ensure that you’re not spending all your leisure time with your coworkers. While it’s good for morale to have friends in the workplace, if they’re the only people you’re socialising with you end up discussing work a lot after hours.
Work towards your own goals, not someone else’s
It’s natural to compare yourself to your colleagues, friends or family members when evaluating your career success. And a little comparative can be helpful to gain perspective. However, don’t let the successes of others’ determine your own. It’s important to set your own goals and ambition and not be overly influenced by the achievements of those around you. If you place too much emphasis on what you haven’t accomplished you’ll be unsatisfied with most elements of your life.
Create a strong daily routine but recognise that it won’t always be possible to stick to it. When it comes to work-life balance, sometimes one will take precedence over the other. Give yourself realistic goals to conquer and try to look to wider time frames rather than expecting instant gratification.