We’ve come to realise, like many others, that maintaining a good work/life balance is vital. It’s even more important in the current COVID era, with lockdowns and limitations happening all over the world. In a survey by Mental Health First Aid England, they found that 1 in 6 workers will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress at any one time. Increased working hours and a blurred line between work and home life are a big part of the problem.
For many of us, overwork is unavoidable at certain times. Within our workplace we aim to keep everyone to their contracted hours only, though this sometimes changes as projects near completion deadlines. Many people around the world regularly work above their contracted hours, which often results in higher stress and anxiety levels, and directly impacts their lives outside work.
So, we all need to be aware of whether our work is dominating our lives and take steps to redress the balance if that is the case. How? By creating good self-care habits and embracing the time we take for ourselves. Taking personal responsibility for your work/life balance is vital, and communicating boundaries to our employers/colleagues in a diplomatic way can be hugely helpful, especially when expectations and demands may be too much but they aren’t aware of it.
Working smarter, not harder, is also important. Focused work over shorter timespans can often be more productive, especially when coupled with proper breaks where you disconnect from your work environment. Even just leaving your workspace to go to the staff room is a good start.
There are also many things we can do outside of work to recharge our batteries. For example, within our team we have cyclists, gamers, yoga fans, cooking enthusiasts, electronics hobbyists; the list goes on. The most important thing is to make the time outside of work to treat yourself to whatever makes you happy. This also includes making time for human contact with friends and family, even if it’s only via phone or video call at the moment.
Changes Make A Difference
The first step to redressing your work/life balance, we’ve found, is to become aware of it. After that, it’s within our own power to make the necessary changes. It’s not always easy to get right quickly, but over time anyone can build good habits. There’s no better time to start than now!
Here are a few hot tips which we’ve found make a difference:
- Only work the hours defined in your contract. If you absolutely have to work overtime, try and keep it as short as possible. Setting boundaries and communicating openly with your supervisor is really important in this situation.
- Get outside at lunchtime. Every day. Even a 5-10 minute walk to the end of the street or around the car park is enough to disconnect from your workspace.
- Take time to switch off your phone in the evening. If you feel you can’t do that, turn off as many notifications from apps as possible, especially social media and emails.
- Everyone says it, but a little bit of physical activity every day is a massive benefit. Even if it’s jogging on the spot while typing at your desk or, like a friend of ours, having a kettlebell next to the desk for breaks!
- If you supervise other people, make sure you create a compassionate, empathetic space for people to come to you with their problems. Then work together to find solutions. Consciously working to create a supportive environment in work has been a huge benefit to us, and prioritising open, honest communication has been invaluable.
- We arranged a fortnightly online poker game with our team during the first UK lockdown, and bought each of them their tipple of choice for when we played. Little gestures like that can go a long way, so think about what you can do to generate a smile from your staff.
Have any other thoughts? Anything you think we should add to this article? Let us know via our contact page and we’ll update things!