What Would It Take To Improve Your Work-Life Balance?
Questions of work-life balance are particularly important to ask ourselves in the digital world, because it’s easy to slip in to the pattern of always being on call via smartphones, email and messaging. Work can cross the boundary into free time very easily. Sometimes this is a curse.
Are you happy with your current work-life balance, or is the balance tipped too far to one side?
Just because we can be on call all the time doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be. Yet negotiating boundaries when it comes to being constantly on call can be something we feel very uncomfortable doing.
It can also get complicated. For example, if you work across time zones, you might feel obliged to answer calls during your night-time to deal with business on the other side of the world. But then the next day, your productivity might be low, and due to tiredness you might begin making mistakes.
These questions are certainly issues any global organization needs to think about.
However, while sometimes it’s pressure from the people we work with or our boss that keeps us checking, checking and checking again, often this is just the excuse we give.
We put pressure on ourselves and create our own expectations. We fall into behaviours that become habits, that are then hard to break. Other people get used to our habits – but they’d get used to new habits (like checking less) too.
So what would it take to improve your work-life balance?
Do you simply want to leave work on time, do you need more time to relax, or is the issue about where to draw the line between work and time off? Often, this line becomes blurred.
Reclaiming just an hour (or even half an hour) each day as non-work time can make a big difference. Even a small chunk of time reallocated to ourselves can make us feel better. If you feel like things are chaotic and out of balance because you don’t have time for personal tasks – including simple things like booking and attending appointments and domestic tasks – look for a slice of time to reclaim.
One solution towards better balance could be to make more productive use of your weekend. Vacation time is another key opportunity to rebalance, recharge, and relax.
Benefits of taking a holiday include being more productive and focused back at work, as well as health benefits including a reduction in stress. Yet research from Oxford Economics shows that, on average, U.S. employees only take 84% of their paid time off, leaving 429 million days of paid time off unused in 2013 altogether.
When you do take a vacation, watch out for the tendency to take the office with you.
Further research from the U.K.’s Ofcom Communications Market Report shows that around three in 10 workers do some form of work while on holiday. Almost a quarter (23%) regularly or occasionally check work emails on holiday.
Work-life balance is – for most of us – a balancing act.
Slowing down, stepping back, switching off and giving time to our own thoughts can help us enjoy both sides of the work-life balance equation again.
Why not take a moment today to think about what better work-life balance looks like for you.
By Frances Booth, as published in Forbes on 23rd April 2015