According to a survey by the CIPD, three in five UK employees work longer hours than they would like to. That’s without factoring in the commute time let alone train delays!
The commute can equate to an extra 3 hours and 45 minutes on average per week (that’s a night at the theatre with dinner). The CIPD actually claim that the commute time is longest for London workers with an average of 78 minutes a day.
Great if you want to catch up on your emails and some reading, not so great if you want to spend time with your family and put your kids to bed.
Work / life balance means different things to different people though. For some it’s about spending time with friends and family, while for others it’s about taking part in hobbies, engaging in personal, spiritual or educational development. It largely depends on your values, which I’ll be exploring in more depth in October’s blog.
Ultimately though, it’s whatever feels right for you.
Not having enough time to pursue both work and personal interests can really affect your health in so many ways; headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, depression...I could go on. If things get really bad it can also lead to burnout and seriously affect your mental health.
Trust me, I know, I’ve been there!
I don’t want you to go there too, so how can you create a better work life balance?
Increase your Productivity
The more efficient and productive you are at work, the easier it’s going to be for you to leave work on time. I’m not saying you have to work harder but you can work smarter.
One way you can do this is to use the pomodoro technique. Choose a task you’d like to get done, set a timer for 25 minutes, work on the task consistently until your reminder goes off. Then tick that task off your list and take a 5 minute break. You can use the five minutes to go grab a cup of tea/coffee, go for a walk or simply focus on your breathing.
By focusing your time like this, in bite sized chunks, with appropriate breaks, you actually get more done meaning you can leave the office on time (or even early) and work towards creating a better work life balance.
It can be so easy to say ‘yes’ to everything and become increasingly overwhelmed by the many demands on your time. Before long you’ve started saying ‘no’ to the important things in your life and find you’re not spending enough time with your family or having time out to relax and recharge.
If you have a tendency to say ‘yes’ to doing extra things without thinking about the outcome, don’t give an answer straight away. Just say you’ll get back to the person that is asking so that you can use that extra time to think clearly about whether saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is right for you.
Stand your ground and don’t feel you have to justify your actions or give excuses.
Schedule time in your diary for the important areas in your life; family, hobbies, self-development, reading, movie nights, etc.
If spending more time with your family is really important to you then speak to your family and agree a regular time each week where you can spend an evening together.
Make sure this time is uninterrupted by turning off your technology and letting your friends and neighbours know you’re not available, so they don’t unexpectedly call by for a catch-up over a cuppa.
Let your workplace know in advance that you need to leave on time, that you have a regular weekly commitment.
I appreciate that this might not always go to plan but by setting the intention and sharing this with the people involved, you’re taking a step in the right direction and you’ll be surprised at what people will do to accommodate your needs.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and
not enough time on what is important - Stephen Covey
Your workplace can also help you with creating a better work / life balance by developing policies that acknowledge the association between work related stress and mental health.
I’m seeing a lot more employers encouraging activities that promote good mental health, such as lunchtime exercise classes or a 'quiet room' for meditation. If your company isn’t doing any of these things maybe you could suggest it and increase the work / life balance in your workplace.
Now, you’ve got a better idea of how you can create a better work / life balance, you can start implementing some of these changes into your life.
If you need further support you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book yourself in for a £99 ‘work / life balance’ power hour (20% discount with the code CWPA). We’ll spend an hour looking at what you can stop doing, start doing, what you can do more of and less of, all in the pursuit of a better work / life balance.