A major concern for all workers, whether employees or freelance contractors, part-time or full-time, is how to maintain a work-life balance. This issue is even more relevant today with the increase in the number of people working from home. So what exactly is a ‘work-life balance’ and how do we ensure we have a proper balance in our lives?
Balance conjures up images of stability or steadiness. If we have a balanced life it means we are in control of our actions and are able to set aside time for ourselves. It also means we allocate sufficient time to our career and personal life, without one encroaching on the other. This is not easy if we have a high pressure job and a busy home life alongside the demands of a family. So just how can we keep a healthy balance between our working and personal life?
A good work-life balance is one where the needs of your personal life and mental wellbeing is prioritised equally with your working life and career. This means you need to know when to switch off from work. Unfortunately, technology can lead to problems in this area. Smartphones ensure we are available all the time, and work often overlaps into the evenings and weekends. The fact we can work remotely highlights how easy it is to access work resources from home. It is tempting to answer ‘just one more email’ or to ‘finish up that report’. Our office is technically just a few strokes of the keyboard away and we may find it difficult to switch off.
The key to a healthy work-life balance is to set boundaries. You need to manage your time and set a limit to how long you will work each day past your core hours. Delegate tasks wherever possible and set limits for each project so that you can maintain your boundaries more easily. Do not feel pressured into working excessively long hours just because you are at home. Focus on urgent tasks first and do not worry if you do not manage to finish everything you had planned to do. Make use of to-do lists and prioritise each item on the list. Most of all, do not expect perfection. You can only do your best.
Ultimately, you must ensure there is a line between work and leisure. If you recognise this distinction, you will reduce work-related stress. Ask for support from colleagues and managers when needed and you will start to feel the benefits of a proper work-life balance.