Work isn’t everything; the importance of work-life balance

Work plays a significant part in all our lives. From putting food on the table, forming relationships and bolstering our self-esteem, work has many significant benefits. However, you can work too much and this can become counter-productive, make you ill and turn you against the many positive values that work brings.

In this advice piece, we look at some top hints and tips to guide you through your career, happy, healthy and fulfilled. Please do share it with family, friends and colleagues – work/life balance is crucial to the health of the nation.

Digital detox
In today’s connected world, whatever industry you work in, many people feel obliged to be looking at social media, emails and news just to keep themselves ahead. With smartphones so powerful, you might think sending a quick email here or keeping in touch with the business’ Twitter is a good thing. The opposite is true.

Doing these “quick jobs” will quickly escalate into the norm; an expectation that you are always available and will respond whatever time, day or night. Fear of missing out? No, take time to turn off and enjoy family, friends and other activities. Whatever’s on social media or in your inbox will still be there later or the morning. Enjoy the anticipation!

Leave work at work
Another day done. Well done you! Take on extra interests so you can leave work at work; whatever you are working on will still be there in the morning, and in fact, a night’s sleep is good for focus, creativity and mindset.

So, when you shut the laptop, leave it on your desk. Turning off from work is good for you.

Learn to say no and apply it.
An urgent project comes in; a company acquisition is made or there is a need to write a new presentation and, as per usual, your line manager expects you to pick up what’s passed down. You can say ‘no.’ You can’t be dismissed for not doing extra work. A good approach would be that if more work is required, sit and discuss it with your line manager/CEO/Director of Operations – whoever it is – and understand what is important and prioritise. Upwardly manage expectations.

You are not being difficult by saying ‘no.’ You are being a realist who is focused on the work already given.  You are being the professional here. However, be cordial and professional. You’ll be presenting a problem, so offer a solution.

What’s the worst that can happen?
Every single piece of work – without exception – can be improved. In fact, the adage goes: “an artist’s work is never finished.” This will relate to anything you are doing; accountancy, management, marketing, buying, operations. The industry list is endless.

You’ve got to let go, remember you’ll have other priorities within work and away from it. Are you aiming for perfection which really isn’t realistic? Good enough is often the best route for our multi-dimensioned, connected business lives.

Get a life coach

Life coaches can be fantastic for many in business to help see the wood from the trees. A business life coach will bring objectivity, help you clear hurdles, understand and prioritise your personal and business life to help you make the necessary changes. These could positively impact confidence, motivation, productivity and efficiency.

Here’s a directory of coaches; they each have different backgrounds so ring them up and have a chat.

Exercise
Exercise is a must do, not a like to do. Exercising has so many health benefits that will help you in the workplace.

Studies have proven that exercise improves workers’ productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. So why aren’t you doing it? Many people believe that exercise could be the most important factor to their work/life balance.

With deadlines and pressures of work and family, it can often be troublesome to fit in personal time to exercise, but you must. Exercise reduces stress, releases adrenaline that helps serotonin and gets your blood racing which helps your performance.

Even if it’s a vigorous stroll at lunch, a game of squash after work or cycle to your workplace – it all helps.

Work smarter (work from home)
Commuting the same journey day-in, day-out is mind-numbing and expensive. Put yourself first. Can you work from home or a nearby coworking facility that helps you to spend more time at home? You’ll get loads done; work to live rather than living to work.

Prioritise your time
One of the best tools in your arsenal at work is your to-do list. At the end of the day when you have crossed through the jobs that need doing this is fulfilling, exciting and helps you reflect on a great day’s work. The unfinished jobs will still be there tomorrow on a freshly written list but make the time to work out what are priorities and focus on these.

Take regular breaks
Every 30-45 minutes get up from your desk, go for a walk and enjoy a change of scene. Obviously, get to a logical end point so it’s easy to pick up again. You’ll loosen your muscles, rest your brain and you’ll enjoy what’s going on outside. Have something to drink – not alcoholic! – and then when you feel ready, get back to what you’re doing.

Enjoy what you do
Sir Richard Branson once said “If I’m offered a new opportunity, I always say, “Yes,” and I’ll learn the skills later.” I understand the sentiment, but this isn’t always helpful. You need to love what you do to be fully effective. Doing a job you dislike or are ill-suited to isn’t helping anyone, most importantly you. If this isn’t the role for you, make a plan to positively change. When you love your work, this will come across in your approach, quality of work and outlook.

Plan things to look forward to
In your personal/social life, make sure you plan things to look forward to. These could be holidays or visiting family, but mark things on your calendar that excite you. When times are tough/busy at work, knowing you have things you enjoy looking forward to makes life all the sweeter.

Positivity
Sometimes, people around us can positively upset our equilibrium with their negativity. You know the ones, the people who find fault in everything. You can do without these individuals, so try to distance yourself from their venomous outpourings. Focus on challenges and solutions. Using positive language can also help. For instance, instead of using the word “problem,” “challenge” is far less invasive.

Put yourself first. There is only one of you.

Good luck!

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, office support/administration jobs and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email: info@mrkassociates.co.uk

 

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