This is something that has been quite a hot topic for me in the past few months.
When I first left university and started my career in 2008, I was launched into a management placement pretty quickly. Work/life balance wasn’t something I found really important. I was fresh out of university, young, eager, motivated and ready to rule the world.
I could also drink two bottles of wine, get home at 2am and still manage to be at work for 7am feeling fresh as a daisy.
- I would work long hours.
- All my staff had my number
- I’d take work home with me.
- I’d drop everything for work.
Things are a bit different now I’m older.
My need for a work/life balance seems to have grown.
It’s not that I’m lazy or less committed – it’s just that I’ve got a lot more hobbies now than I did a few years ago.
In the past few years, I’ve started blogging (which feels like another full time job in itself). My fitness routine is pretty intense. and I’ve been getting a bit of a social life.
Fitting in a full time job and 2 hours commute on top of my hobbies isn’t easy.
Here are some tips on how I cope.
4 work life balance tips
1. Change your mind-set.
When I stopped putting in extra hours at work, I did start to feel guilty about it.
I’m viewed at work as a highly motivated person and I was afraid that by doing less hours, I would be viewed as not pulling my weight.
But it’s what I needed to do to remain a highly motivated person.
The truth is that working 4 hours extra a day, falling asleep on the sofa out of exhaustion and not being able to make plans because of never knowing how long my day would be was making me feel bitter and hostile towards my job.
Time for you is really important. And that’s okay.
2. Be honest with your seniors.
My manager and his direct manager know how much my work/life balance means to me.
I’ve been approached about progressing into senior management and I was honest with them.
In my first few years of being in manager, I was putting a lot of hours due to my lack of experience and struggling to delegate tasks to others because I’m a complete perfectionist and MUST DO IT MYSELF OR IT WON’T GET DONE PROPERLY AT ALL.
I just explained how I have a lot going on in my life at the moment and it’s not something I’m looking towards doing at the point in time.
I want to enjoy the last year years of my 20’s. I want to focus on blogging, exercise and my friends while I have no other real commitments.
The option to progress will always be there, but my youth won’t.
They understand that I don’t want to work overtime and if they need me to work a Sunday, I’ll do it if I can have a different day off during the week rather than being paid.
They understand that I have to travel 2 hours a day and if they need me to change shifts, they need to ask me first due to any other commitments.
As long as I am committed while I’m at work and give it my all, they’re fine with it.
If things happen that are out of my control, like a staff member calls in sick and I need to cover, I’ll stay behind. If my workload is high, I’ll work through lunch.
It turns out that most people understand the need for a work/life balance.
3. Set boundaries.
I make it clear that I’m not to be contacted at home unless it’s an absolute necessity.
This is because when I’m at home, it’s really important for me to be able to switch off and not have things playing on my mind.
I’ve been in situations in the past where my staff would text me when they were calling in sick which makes me feel stressed about my departments. But it’s stress I don’t need because I can’t do anything about it if I’m not at work.
Or I’d get text messages asking for holidays and days off, which again, I can’t do anything about while I’m at home and it’s just another thing I’ve got to remember to do when I get back to work, rather than them speaking to me directly so I can just sort it out there and then.
4. End your work day right.
Leaving work with loads of loose ends plays on my mind.
I like to ensure I finish my day properly, by either not leaving any unfinished work, or if I have, I make a physical list of things I need to do on my return to work.
This means that when I go home, I can spend my evening focusing on blogging and other things rather than feeling distracted and running through my to-do list in my head.
Take this quiz to see how your work/life balance is.