For the women who need us most

For the women who need us most

I’m Werking On My…

I’m Werking On My…

Perfecting that work-life balance
By Lucy Hainsworth
Image: work life balance graphic

Between hitting those weekday deadlines and making room for drinks with the girls on a Friday night, finding the perfect work-life balance can be tricky. 

We’ve all been there. It hits that five o’ clock finish and you’re desperately trying to switch to your social brain, but you just can’t. Whilst all your friends are sat in the beer garden gossiping about all the latest in their lives, that unfinished task you’ve got waiting for you at work won’t leave your mind.

Inevitably, you go home and after trying to get to sleep for the past half an hour you’ll just check one last email, and just edit that one document. But whilst your laptops open you may as well check your meetings for the next week too, which you are yet to prepare for. Well, I guess it’s best to get prepared for Monday morning…

But the issue is, where does this stop? Before you know it, the weekend has gone and you still haven’t had a day off. Whilst all these tasks may seem like small interruptions into your personal time, they soon mount up and cause a burnout.

So, how should you perfect balancing your work life and your life life? 

The first step is setting personal boundaries for yourself, and co-workers, with your job. The people-pleasing side of your brain may tell you ‘Oh, it’s only an extra few minutes at the end of the day’ when you’ve stayed behind at work to help finish the job, but it never is just a few minutes.

It is essential to alert co-workers to your working hours, and your boundaries. If you finish at five, you finish at five. It may feel like there’s always another task, and always an urgency, but there’s also another day. If every task is an emergency, it is not an emergency.

Yes, sometimes, you may just need that extra few minutes to complete something and occasionally, it really is necessary to tack on that time on the end of the day. But the most important note of this, is to recognise to yourself and others that you are doing this because it is essential. 

This can feel tricky, as setting boundaries often feels unreasonable, but it is totally normal. If a co-worker asks you to stay behind, it’s ok to say “Hey I am only contracted to work until five today, is this something that can wait till tomorrow?” and usually, the answer will be yes.

Often enough, these are just conversations you have to play through with yourself, as we’ve all been guilty of taking on after-work responsibilities all by ourselves. An important way to prevent this is by getting organised. 

If you stay on top of the tasks at hand for the week, especially the more urgent ones, you can plan the time these should take and fit them into your working hours. By doing this, you can also allow yourself room for the urgent things that crop up, because there will always be something.

If there’s something due Friday, it’s important to recognise this as early as possible to save yourself the last minute rush and potential over time. This way, you have the self-confidence to get the job done without creeping into your personal time and maintaining a positive work-life balance.

It’s also important to try and plan activities you’d like to do into your personal time, even if it’s jotting down that Tuesday night is movie night with a cup of tea wrapped up in bed. When these things are written down, they become harder to miss and it’ll encourage you to take the time needed for yourself.

Taking time for your hobbies and friends is essential for caring for your mental well-being, and will serve your working brain better for allowing yourself time to decompress and rest. 

This time will help bring clarity to your work too which could reduce the midweek panic and gloomy evenings. Being able to distinguish between work and fun is an important way to keep the two sides of your brain separate and lead to a lot more ‘you time’.

Another way to prevent yourself from thinking of all those tasks you’ve got left to do whilst sunbathing on a Bank Holiday weekend is to separate your physical spaces. Whether you work from home, an office or anything else make sure that any work duties are done outside of your chill zones.

Yes, that means no answering emails while in bed. 

By having separate zones for separate thoughts, your body will allow itself the chance to truly relax when not on the grind. This physical switch can flick a mental switch in helping you roll with the punches and find that balance.

So, get yourself some scales and start balancing whether you think you are putting enough time into yourself, as well as your work. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush hour hurry, every hour, but it’s important to just stop. Take a breathe. Make time for you, your hobbies and the people you enjoy spending time with. 

Now go enjoy your own time, and perfect that work-life balance.