When you love what you do and take pride in doing your job well, it can be easy for your work days to get longer and longer, to skip lunch breaks and find yourself doing work tasks at home. While success undoubtedly takes hard work and dedication, a balance between your work and home life is imperative not just for your peak performance at work, but for your overall wellbeing. Here’s how the experts recommend finding a good balance.
Get into a good routine
“A healthy work/life balance is more achievable with a good established routine that includes work, exercise, times of rest, enough sleep, hobbies and social time,” says clinical psychologist Mareli Fischer.
Confidence coach Lisa Welsh couldn’t agree more. “If you want to give of your best at work, you need to take time to nourish your body, mind and spirit at home.” This can be achieved with small tweaks to your current routines – and can make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing.
Wake up a few minutes earlier each morning to enjoy some quiet time. A watch with a silent vibrating alarm, like the Fitbit Versa, can be super useful if you want to avoid waking others in the house. Use your peaceful moments to exercise, meditate, journal, make a nourishing breakfast or simply enjoy a cup of coffee in peace, she says. “Whatever you do, don't start your day by scrolling through social media or checking your emails!” cautions Welsh. “Feed your soul first.”
Just as important is an evening routine, which gives you time to unplug and unwind. Set a regular bedtime and make sure that you get enough of sleep. It is an obvious, but often overlooked way to manage your energy levels. Get seven or eight hours of sleep, in a cool room (without a cell phone by your bed) to allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of the day ahead. If you want to monitor your quality of sleep, try using an activity tracker like the DoFit track and draw a trend chart of your sleep habits.
Fischer recommends practicing mindfulness so that you are truly present in the current moment, aware of the space you are in and attending to what you are busy with. “When we are present in this way at work, it will help with focus, motivation, professional relationships and productivity,” she explains. “When we are present in this way during leisure activities, time with loved ones or even while performing routine tasks at home, we find more enjoyment and meaning in these moments.”
The benefits of mindfulness are many, says Fischer. “Mindful people are less anxious about the future and ruminate far less about events in their past.
Identify your priorities
“A good way to achieve a healthier work/life balance is to get REALLY clear about what matters most to you,” advises Welsh. “You need to identify your priorities – career, relationships, personal development, health, etc.”
She recommends doing the following exercise:
1. Look back over the past year and identify the highlights – What do you want more of going forward? (More time exploring the world? More time with your loved ones?)
2. Look forward to the new year and think about what you would most like to experience/achieve – What would you love to do? (New job? Conquer a mountain higher than before?)
3. Imagine how a perfect day in your life would look – Where are you? Who is there? What are you doing? Get really specific.
Your answers will reveal your main priorities. And once you know your priorities, you can break them down into small manageable goals. “The key to achieving work/life balance is to fit these goals into your schedule every single day,” says Welsh. “Structuring your time this way ensures that nothing is neglected and leaves less opportunity for hours to be squandered.”
Remember to take a break
Constantly working through your lunch break is detrimental to your health – and will negatively impact your productivity. No excuses to skip yours – no matter what is considered 'normal' in your office. Get outside if you can. Take some time away from the screen. Go for a walk or do a quick workout, eat a good meal, take a deep breath and return to your desk feeling refreshed, recommends Welsh.
If you’re feeling stressed, pop in your headphones and do a five-minute guided meditation, recommends personal trainer Jane Killian. “It might be a good idea if you’ve been stuck in traffic and you’re stressed out, to start your day with that,” she says.
“Be sure to take your annual leave and switch work-mode off for a while!” adds Welsh. “Giving your body and mind a good rest will help you to avoid burnout, reduce stress and boost productivity on your return.” So pack your bags, and plan some fun time away!