inding a way to switch off from work in the modern world isn’t easy. Colleagues have your phone number, you’re always at a computer and with emails on your phone you just can’t escape. It’s not good for us though, as studies consistently show that being constantly “switched on” is not good for our stress levels, mental health or productivity. To be able to maximise your productivity in the long-term, you have to be thinking more about your work-life balance right now. When are you really “off” from work? How much time are you spending with loved ones without work at the back of your head? Are your holidays really holidays?
To help you get a little closer to that perfect balance between work and life, we’ve lined up five of our ways to hack your time and balance your life:
1. Set a routine, and follow it
We’re all, in our own way, creatures of habit. So, it’s no real surprise that setting a proper routine and sticking to it helps in quite a few ways. It reduces worries, which helps to lower stress levels. It helps with time management, which can help you to get a regular sleep schedule and a better night’s sleep, no more all-nighters. It can help with eating, as regular shopping trips and time for cooking can help reduce the amount of fast or ready-made food you eat. Most importantly though, it makes you use your time well. No more leaving things undone, running out of time or wasted hours.
2. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
When you’re making a list of things to do, you put the most important things first and sort them out as soon as possible, simple right? Well not quite, people do tend to have trouble with getting the most pressing task sorted first. Whether that’s procrastination, bad prioritisation, or something else, it has to stop. Being able to properly prioritise your tasks is a very important skill, and one you can develop over time by making actual prioritised lists of your tasks. It might take some time, but the effects are totally worth it.
3. Make a buffer between work and home
One of the worst parts about working from home is that when you’re working from the same place you live; it feels like you never actually leave work. Especially if you’re using the same room or computer for work and play, it can feel like you just can’t escape. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t particularly good for you, not for your mental health nor your stress levels. For many people before the pandemic, the separation between work and home would be a commute, a sort of buffer between the two mindsets. For the new normal, you have to find your own way of setting that boundary. Whether that’s a lie-down with a book for half an hour, some time away from your PC, or a quick coffee break, you just have to find your own way of separating your work from the rest of your life.
4. Switch off when you log out
Everyone dreads getting a work call while they’re relaxing with their family. It’s not good for your wellbeing and it’s not fun for your family. Always being on edge or stressed can have a negative impact on your stress levels in the long run and having someone constantly taking work calls is very distracting for the family. You can choose between a total shutoff of communications from work outside office hours or tell your work that the only calls that should be made are absolutely necessary ones. It’s similar for emails, a simple tip is just not to have your work emails on your mobile device. If there was something so important that it had to be seen immediately, it almost definitely shouldn’t be an email. Don’t be afraid to be firm with colleagues, it’s your health and your relationships that come first.
5. Exercise regularly
It always comes back to “healthy body, healthy mind”. Keeping in some kind of shape can help in many more ways than that though. It’s very good for your mental wellbeing, keeping you energised, alert and in a positive mood. It can also work very well as part of a larger routine, especially with a quick run/walk in the morning or evening as a start or end to your day. Depending on how you prefer to do it, a quick run at night can tire you out for a good night’s sleep, and a brisk morning walk can pick you right up for the day ahead. This is one that will be different for each person, as some will prefer to visit a gym, some will want to walk alone, and some can even make it a family activity with a partner or children. As with many things, it’s what you make of it, but regular exercise is always a positive.