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Achieving Work-Life Balance

In the current fast paced world with always on mentality we need to ensure that we are in control and find ways to balance our time, our brain power, our energies.  This week on the podcast Emma talks about key ways you can achieve work-life balance.

A good few years ago a survey of City employees was carried out by Credent Technologies’ and they discovered that less than a quarter of those who responded had taken a holiday with NO contact with the office. 

Just under half, reported that they felt being available 24/7 gave them job security so that this gave them some justification that technology was necessary and ensured they were not ‘missing out’ or being left behind when important decisions were being made.

It would seem that just switching off the phone or computer is not that easy for some people.  I’ve had clients who, when asked to turn their phone off for the session, admitted they never turned their phone off and some were not sure how to!

Fear of missing out is a real thing.  It’s used in advertising and sales, however we are reinforcing this in ourselves by having this mindset of needing to be contactable all the time.

The lifestyle of never fully switching our devices also means we’re rarely switching off our brains too.  Just like everything else in the world, we need to be able to power down properly.  Without that, stress will build.  It can affect you even if you don’t realise it. 

Many people end up living with a higher level of stress hormone so that it becomes the ‘norm’ for them.

Stress can mean that you make poor decisions or that it stunts your creativity.  It affects your ability to concentrate fully, or to concentrate for decent periods of time.  When everything seems like it just such hard work to do the basics, you end up working harder, becoming more tired and this affects your performance too.  It’s a vicious cycle.

According to the National Labour Force Survey (LFS) 40% of sick days in the British workplace were stress related.   If you or your colleagues end up taking time off because of stress, then the impact of that means the pressure and workload is increased too.

A company stress management policy can be helpful.  But I’ve heard about HR departments handing out a stress risk assessment and advising that it is given to the employee to complete and return, rather than sit down and discuss and go through it together.  They know that often stressed people don’t return the assessment.  That’s one less job to deal with!

However, as I say to all my clients and the companies where deliver my stress workshops – “you cannot change or control anyone else, so we have to change your response to these situations”.

It’s key that you recognise stress in yourself (that’s included in episode 33) so that you can protect your mental health and wellbeing.

What can you begin to do to get a better work-life balance and manage any stressful situations? 

  • Stop Multitasking – give each task all of your attention and brain power. It can take longer to switch from one task to another and re-focus, so shut off notifications, drag yourself away from the distractions.
  • Schedule. I advocate that all my clients make time to schedule tasks and activities.  This isn’t about being pernickety about your time, it’s about ensuring that you have time set to look at and deal with certain tasks.  It also means that your brain doesn’t have to hold all the information and keep reminding you of that ‘thing’ you have to do.  It’s a bit like making an appointment with yourself to deal with those differing things.
  • Take breaks. They don’t have to be huge, but just a little break, 30 minutes away from the desk can make a huge impact.  (listen to what I said when someone asked me how many walks Charlie the dog gets …).
  • Take Time back. If you have to work longer for a project or particular day then take that time back … I always had to work late on a Friday, it became a pattern, so no matter how much I wanted to get away, it never happened.  Instead I started taking long lunch breaks, because the pressure would hit from about 2pm on Friday afternoon.  Being realistic stops you getting stressed about what you would like to happen, rather than what really is happening.
  • Reward yourself for achievement. It’s easy to always move on to the next tasks or job but it can be demoralising to never feel like you’ve achieved anything.  I had a colleague once who, every now and then would insist on finishing one thing.  Just to get that sense of achievement instead of always being pulled away and leaving things not quite completed
  • Beware of Perfect – what does perfect look like anyway? It’s going to be different for each person.  So beware of focussing or fussing on something looking for that perfect arrangements, presentation or even a colour on something.  Done is better than perfect. 
  • Get clear on boundaries. These don’t have to be set in stone, but when you get clear on what is and is not acceptable to you, you can clearly set that out for others too.  It does often mean a change in mindset and focus because if you decide you’re not answering emails after 6pm but then you’re so distracted thinking about that big project, the boundaries are not going to be effective for you.  Boundaries work for you, rather than against you.  But it’s important to maintain periods where you’re not working or thinking about work. 
  • Say no. This is a tough one for some people.  If you tend to say yes almost without thinking then work on that. A good way is rather than answering straight away, say let me check that, or I’ll get back you. This gives you time to think about whether you really want to do this, or can do it.  If you do want to say yes, fine. But if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it. The important thing is that you don’t waffle.  No is a complete sentence.  Don’t justify your actions or give excuses, that can give the asker the opportunity to squeeze into your reasons.  
  • Take some time off. If things get too much, taking a few days off or a long weekend can help you feel refreshed and actually increase your productivity in the long-run. Use the holiday you’re entitled to.
  • Don’t let your life be work. Make time for hobbies, interests, exercise, enjoyment. Nurture relationships and get involved in things that are outside of work and colleagues.

 

I hope this is helpful for you and you feel able to put some of these things in your life.  If you want to talk to me about how we can work together on this, or how this can be implemented in your workforce, then get in contact with me or book a call and let’s talk.

 

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