Do you find yourself rushing from one commitment to the next? Are you struggling to find any time for yourself? Do you feel on edge and burnt out? You’re not alone. Many people are ‘time poor,’ and their mental and physical health is suffering because of it. Working long hours, and other commitments, can impact your health, increase stress and cut into leisure activities. 75% of Australians surveyed, admitted that stress adversely affects their physical health, and 64% said it affects their mental health. Plus, not having a work/life balance can stop you from achieving your own personal and professional goals.
So, how do we achieve a better work/life balance? It might be easier than you think. Keep reading to find out how.
Keep strict working hours
Once you get into the habit of allowing your work to impact personal time, it’s difficult to claw back a routine. That’s why it’s so important to not allow your work commitments to bleed into your personal time. Don’t be afraid to say no to tasks outside of work hours. It isn’t unprofessional, and no good manager should expect an employee to work overtime without pay. Set firm work hours, and when you’re done for the day, unplug your laptop and work phone, so you’re not tempted!
Creating a boundary between work and non-work tasks allows your brain to distinguish between ‘work’ and ‘rest’ times. You’ll find it easier to relax knowing that when your working day is over, your personal time begins.
Practice saying, “No.”
Maybe you’ve been taught to believe that your wants and feelings aren’t as important as other people’s. If so, saying “No,” might make you feel uncomfortable, or even guilty. If someone asks you for a favor or a commitment, you may feel obligated to say "Yes," even when you really don’t want to. Eventually, you’ll find yourself feeling overbooked, overstressed, and resentful. So, how do you stop saying “Yes,” when you honestly just want to say “No?”
Try cushioning it with kindness! It’s possible to be polite while turning down an offer.
Try: This sounds great, but I have to pass. Thank you, though!
Or: Thank you for thinking of me for this assignment. I can’t take more work on right now, but please keep in touch.
If you struggle with being assertive, or you’ve been conditioned to put your needs last, it might be hard to start setting boundaries for yourself. If you need more help in this area, consider checking out some books from the library about boundary setting, and how to say no. At Open Colleges, we also offer short courses specialising in Communication.
Our Professional Communications Course focuses on the communication essentials you’ll need in a business, office or professional environment. The methods, tips and processes you’ll learn will help you gain the confidence to communicate effectively as your career grows.
The Managing Workplace Conflict short course focuses on the essential skills you’ll need in a team environment to resolve conflict. The methods, tips and processes you’ll learn will help you gain the confidence to take on any conflict situation.
Schedule something just for you
What do you absolutely love doing? When was the last time you actually did it? For many of us with a poor work/life balance, the answer might be alarming. The truth is, if you don’t start making time for the fun things, they will simply pass you by. Not taking the time to schedule hobbies and passions will lead to creative burnout, and feelings of stress and resentment.
Schedule a weekly date for yourself and stick to it. This is your passion time. If there’s something you’ve been dying to pursue, go for it! Guard this time and use it anyway you like. Unwind, relax, pursue, create. The choice is all yours.
Make sure you aren’t working on your break
Breaks are essential for our mental and physical health. They allow us to stop, rest, and recover. It can be tempting to spend your work breaks catching up on personal errands, (especially if you work from home). We’ve all been guilty of putting a load of dishes on, or quickly vacuuming the floors on our scheduled breaks. Resist the urge if you can!
A break should be just that – a pause from all responsibilities. One of the causes of chronic stress is that we’re not dedicating time to rest. Even a ten-minute break can help reduce stress and allow you to re-focus.
Understand that your job is just a job
The point is: we work to get paid. That’s all. Don’t sacrifice your short time on earth taking on extra responsibilities just because you feel you should. Always remember: If you spend all your time filling other people’s cups, sooner or later yours is going to be empty. It is not selfish to make boundaries for yourself. Say “No” more. Set strict working hours, spend time with the people who bring you peace, and pursue all the things you’ve been dreaming of.