On one hand, by devoting too much time to work we may jeopardise our relationships and, in many regards, even our health.
On the other, the fear of losing ground to competitors and work colleagues forces us to work longer hours – just to stay in the game.
But as Philippe Petite demonstrated – when in 1974 he fearlessly walked a tightrope rigged between the Twin Towers – the ability to strike an equilibrium can be vital and, ultimately, could mean the difference between failure and success.
Similarly to how Petite needed balance to avoid falling, we too must learn to juggle our work and personal lives in order to lead a healthier and saner life.
Recent research carried out by Aviva highlights exactly how detrimental a poor work-life balance can be. Around three in ten Brits now experience stress, with 34 per cent citing work concerns as the main reason for this.
Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at the charity Mind, highlights that “increasingly employees are seeing the boundaries between work and life blurred. One major reason for this is technology which allows us to work outside of the traditional work environment.”
In a hectic world where endless hours are spent at work, and we’re still not fully off the radar even when we do finally leave for the day – how can balance be achieved?
Considering one in five mention juggling work and personal life as the reason behind their stress, here are a few tips that could help you live a happier, healthier life…
What happens at work, stays at work
Being able to switch off from work is paramount. We’ve all had bad days in the office, especially when we’ve had too much on our plate. But going home and continuing to think and talk about it will drive you insane.
Mamo states that “a good way to ensure you are able to switch off from work is to take time at the end of your working day to reflect on everything you have achieved. You can also then refresh your task list for the next day so you can feel like you have wrapped up the working day sufficiently.”
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Technology is now intrinsically tied to almost all aspects of our lives. Although it’s facilitated our work in numerous regards, it has also somewhat enslaved us by allowing us to work around the clock.
As American author Henry David Thoreau once said, “men have become the tools of their tools.” Mamo states that “it’s so easy now to read our emails on our phones on the journey to or from work or while at home.”
While this may be the case, she emphasises that “it’s really important to keep work at work.” Surely replying to that email you received at half ten at night can wait until you’re back in the office?
While we all know that exercise is beneficial, both to our physical and mental health, 59 per cent of us find it boring or hard work. But keeping fit doesn’t have to be repetitive and tedious.
Gyms now offer more activities than ever, and joining a sports team is a great way to release endorphins and reduce stress. It can also improve your social life by giving you the chance to connect with numerous people.
If you’re not the sporty type, even a leisurely evening stroll can help you release tension which has built up during the day.
Read more on work-life balance:
- Enjoy the journey: Entrepreneurs need balanced lives for businesses to truly succeed
- The best ways to lure, and then retain, the best staff
- Why SMEs should think of today’s employees as consumers
Not all things hold equal value
Work, family, friends? Identify what matters most at that specific point in your life and focus your energy on this. Although multi-tasking may make you feel like you’re getting more done, this is rarely the case, and will only make your life more difficult than it needs to be.
When it comes to prioritising at work, concentrate on the most important tasks first and then carry out others later in the day when your energy levels are lower.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to get away from it all
Whether it be a week in the tropics, or a long weekend escapade to the countryside – scheduling in holiday time is key. Even a couple of days away from the office can help you recharge; leaving you refreshed and ready to take on any challenges work may throw at you.
A life spent entirely in the office, is no life at all
Imminent deadlines, heaps of paperwork and presentations to prepare for – we’ve all been there. Working long hours is something that, at times, is unavoidable. But doing this on a regular basis can backfire, as research has shown that working more hours will actually make you less productive.
Mamo suggests that “we’re far more likely to be at our most productive if we’re well rested and have had time and space to clear our heads of work during our personal time.”
So where possible, rather than rush through your workload, head home and tackle outstanding tasks the next day when you’re feeling reenergised.
If you need more inspiration, these are the top ten UK employers for work-life balance as ranked by employees.