Now that most of us have returned to work. We’ve all had the time to think about our work and life balance, and how most of us have enjoyed time at home, perhaps doing some DIY or just spending time with the family, it’s given us all time to think. When you are entrenched into patterns of thinking and behaviour, you tend not to look outside your box. Unless something shakes you up; such as a pandemic, you fail to see even the most common-sense options that are available to you.
Each of us understands something different by work-life balance. However, in principle we all share the idea that what this means is to have a satisfying amount of time available for outside work activities. This may mean time spent with your family, time dedicated to your home or get into a better physical shape, to pursue a hobby and so on.
In the recent lockdown, some of us may have been given the opportunity to work from home. Reducing our travel time, increasing our comfort and flexibility of working hours, which in turn has offered more time for us. Perhaps this has opened the eyes to your manager, who is now allowing the option of working from home on set days each week. Or there is more flexibility with taking time off for a holiday. Either way we are becoming more aware of our life balance and what we want to accomplish.
Sometimes you don’t need sun, sea, sand and cocktails in your holiday to relax. Sometimes you just need to get out of your house and away from work to find that sensation of calm and to collect yourself. This might entail a short break somewhere else in the country, a bike ride, dining out instead of cooking each night or splashing out on a relaxing pamper filled weekend. whatever it is we have all realised that life is not all about work. We’ve seen the country slow right down to a bare minimum; with offices, shops, restaurants, bars, gym and much more all being closed for months.
And now that we’re all returning to work, there’s that desire to keep hold of the slower pace of life.
In order to enjoy work-life balance, we need to become the master at setting limits. Many of us put in long hours, if anything, working overtime thinking “ok, I just need to finish this urgent project before I finish for the day”, and it’s every day, because there is always something more to do, always something urgent and/or important to address.
If you don’t set limits, you will find yourself at the mercy of external pressures. Decide on a set hour when you leave office and stick to it. You will need to be flexible in certain circumstances, but unless anything really is urgent, try to stick to your rule. If you don’t set an hour to go home, it is likely that you’ll stay at the office more than if you intend. Also try not to take any work home; Separate your professional from your personal life. Mute your phone so you don’t have email notifications coming through.
You may find yourself in situations where your boss is asking you to take on some extra work; by all means take it, but make sure that you are not putting yourself out to do so. It’s all well and good being that reliable employee, earning that bit more, but make sure that it’s not at the expense of your personal life. We all have friends and family to go home to, that we want to see and spend time with; children that we want to see grow up. Don’t miss out on the special moments in life for time in the office.
We all have them tasks that we are used to doing in a certain way. We don’t assess how we do them and if there’s a better way of doing them, we just do it, because that’s the way we learnt. So take some time now to think about the activities you do regularly; Is there a way to cut some time, to do them in a more time-efficient manner or to just eliminate them all together?
We’ve come to realise that our time is precious, and we need to ensure that we’re making the most of it and looking after ourselves. Making sure that we have enough rest, exercise, fun, and generally make sure that our mental health is in check. These fundamental rules set a sound foundation for your sense of balance. These elements are all extremely important and they impact your life tremendously long term.
With everything that has happened recently, many of us may feel like our mental health has been thrown off course, this is normal. We’ve all been taken out of a routine that we’re all so used to doing, with many also having their heart strings pulled on as we hear the sad news. We’re all in the same boat. Feeling anxious about returning to work? That’s okay, if you speak to your colleagues, you’ll probably find that you’re not the only one.
It’s times like this we realise that it’s the little things in life that matter. So make sure that you take time out for you, and make sure that your work life isn’t everything.