As things pick up, and we are all desperate to get the ball rolling again, we’re probably putting in more hours than before, and we need to be careful not to fall back into unhealthy work habits.
We all know the importance of a good work life balance – implementing it in practice is somewhat harder – but at a time when our health should be a primary focus, we need to ensure we are doing everything we can to look after ourselves and others, and that means trying to avoid work burnout, overwhelming stress and bad lifestyle habits.
So how do successful and happy people achieve and maintain their work-life balance? There are four tips which successful people seem to share:
1. Unplug often
Nowadays we are so connected to technology and electronic gadgets that we often forget that there actually is an off button for almost all of them. While it is certainly true that phones, tablets and laptops provide modern conveniences that most of us probably couldn’t do without, we do not need to be connected to them 24/7.
If the thought of unplugging everything cold turkey makes you shudder, then do it in phases. Leave your smartphone on another table or in your bag/pocket when eating lunch or dinner with others. Resist the temptation to send out unnecessary work emails or text while watching a movie or a sports game, and diving straight in when the adverts hit. Try to avoid checking your phone and scrolling social media as the first thing and last things you do in a day while lying in bed – if you can leave your phone in another room to the one you sleep in. Develop resilience by resisting the urge to be connected to your work at all times.
2. Focus on what matters
Do you sometimes feel that you’re wasting time on the pointless stuff? Chances are, your gut feeling is correct. Part of maintaining work-life balance and getting control over your life is figuring out what really matters to you. Of course, there is no cookie-cutter approach to figuring out priorities as the answer is unique for each individual.
Time is like a jar that can only hold so many rocks and stones. The biggest rocks should be put in first – those are your priorities and responsibilities that cannot be avoided, everything else are smaller stones that need to find a place around the larger rocks. Planning an efficient day-to-day schedule which has you tackling the most important to-do things first will work wonders in establishing your work-life balance as it limits time-wasting activities that provide little to no productivity.
3. Meditate and exercise regularly
How can you achieve calm at the end of a hectic work day? A great way to work off your nervous energy and calm your soul is by getting a bit of exercise, or alternatively taking time to really relax and let go of the day. Many of us may think that physical exercise is only for those who have hours to spare in a day, but the good thing about exercise is that there are many ways to do it, and it can be for as long or as short a time period as you have available.
The benefits of a meditation and exercise have been proven time and time again - these are some of the most effective stress reducers in the world. As you exercise, your body produces feel-good endorphins that will lift your mood and help you get a better quality of sleep, regardless of whether it’s for an hour or half an hour of rigorous exercise – or just a 15 minute brisk walk outside, or ten minutes to stop and practice deep breathing and meditatation.
4. Pacing is key
It’s good to push ourselves to our limits on a regular basis if we want to see great results, but we have to remember that we are only human and cannot be expected to keep running at fifth gear all the time. The key to having a happy, productive life is remembering that we have both an accelerator and a brake pedal.
If you find yourself becoming overcritical and not thinking straight, then it’s time to take a rest. You can always get back to the issue at hand in a reasonable manner as long as you keep your eye on the goal. Remember, all work and no play is not a good formula for living life – you need to make the most of every precious moment!