We can probably all agree that life can be an adventure that is full of twists and turns, but how can we really enjoy it when we are struggling to balance work and play? Often, we find ourselves with a lack of work/life balance, leaving us feeling like our life always comes second to work and that we are simply going through the motions of waking up, working, and going back to sleep. Particularly over the last few years, struggling with the pandemic and dealing with multiple lockdowns, it can be very hard to separate our work and our life when we are always at home. Isolation and the endless distractions that come from trying to work from home whilst juggling many other tasks has made it even more difficult for people to achieve a good work/life balance. This article will help you find that balance, just by making some simple changes. You don’t need to overhaul your whole life to find the balance that you have been looking for.
1. Schedule Breaks
When you’re working from home it can be difficult to make time for yourself and to know when to switch off from working. In order to have a good work/life balance, you should schedule at least 2 big breaks a day to do non-work-related activities. An article produced by Inc. showed that most people working in an office are only truly productive for three hours a day, so while it is easy to feel unproductive when you take breaks whilst working from home, the truth is that you’re probably producing just as much work as someone in an office! Embrace this information and allow yourself to be well rested!
2. Set Goals
It is important to set goals for yourself. Although people often talk about setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) goals, you may find it more helpful to choose personal goals that are not measurable. Although measuring progress can be a great way to keep yourself accountable, it sometimes means that life is deprioritized for something that’s measurable. Setting goals like ‘I will relax more’ or ‘I will spend more time doing my hobby’, don’t need to be measurable to be valuable. You can enjoy making a conscious effort to hit these goals for yourself without it becoming a prescriptive, box-ticking exercise.
In terms of your work life, it may help you to make productivity targets. These work in two ways – they stop you overworking and doing more than you should, and they also encourage you not to procrastinate and end up taking your work home with you. Make productivity targets by the day, not the week because then if you have an off day you can make up for it later, without feeling stress or guilt. Also, ensure that once you have hit your targets you stop working and don’t simply move the goalposts. The targets should allow you to be more productive, allowing you a better work/life balance, they aren’t there as a way for you to keep piling work onto yourself, never allowing yourself to be done.
If you have big tasks that need to be undertaken, it can be helpful to break them into smaller, more digestible ones. This will help you stay motivated and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with what needs to be done. You may also find it helpful to reward yourself when you have completed each sub-task, with a break or a short walk, or even just a cup of tea!
3. Keep Moving
Another way to add some more balance to your life is to keep moving. For example, if it’s possible for you, you can move your workspace through the day (from the kitchen table to a desk, from a standing position to a seated position). Prioritizing movement by moving around the house during the day in order to get a break from work and keep your body moving is really important for your overall health, both mentally and physically. It might help you to wear a pedometer or fitness watch to show you how much movement you are doing through the day and to visually remind you to move more throughout the day.
4. Prioritise Wellness
Linking to this, ensure that you are also prioritising your wellness. It is important to take a proper break for lunch and not to just eat at your desk. Although it can be tempting to not take a proper break, you need that time to rest and recharge within the workday. You should also book time for relaxation and fitness. This could be scheduling with yourself that you are going for a run or to do a home workout, or it could be booking a gym slot, exercise class or pampering session – whatever fitness and relaxation means to you!
Sleep is another vitally important component of wellness. Your body functions far better when it has had enough sleep and sleeping enough can make the relationships around you easier to manage too. Emotions are hard to manage when you’re exhausted, so sleeping enough is a great way to ensure that you remain calm and able to deal with whatever life throws at you. Try committing to getting enough sleep and see the difference that it makes.
5. Maintain a Healthy Social Schedule
Finally, try and maintain a healthy social schedule. Of course, this means different things to different people, as some of us are very extroverted and some of us are very introverted, with everyone lying on the spectrum somewhere. Take some time to think about what a healthy social schedule looks like to you – it could be ensuring that you meet a friend once a week, it could be calling someone every day or going to groups or clubs regularly. Whatever a healthy social schedule looks like for you, it is important to maintain it and not to allow work to take over. You could try and make socialising a scheduled part of your weekly routine, if this will help you maintain the balance, or you could just try and make an active effort to say ‘yes’ to social events instead of saying ‘no’ because of work.
It’s hard to maintain a work/life balance, especially during these unprecedented times, but with a few tweaks to your everyday life, you can ensure that the balance you have is as healthy as possible and, most importantly, works for you.