“Work-life balance” is becoming the biggest bargaining point for companies wanting to secure the best candidates for their vacancies, and for the best candidates to secure the right deal for themselves.
That said, it’s also widely reported that many of us are still not getting it right, and it can be a huge source of unhappiness at work and at home, leading to poor performance and unnecessary stress. What’s more, we blame it on so many different reasons, from poor management to inflexible schedules and even technology.
However, it is easy to shift the blame for our own time-management rather than look at our own behaviour. Did you boss actually tell you to stay late? Be honest – you chose to check your work email on your phone at 9pm! The key is getting to grips with our own self-control and discipline, and there are things you can do to help.
Ditch the Phone
It’s well publicised that mobile phones are extremely addictive, and it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a work phone – we just can’t resist a sneak peek whenever an alert pops up. But having a look at your phone will interrupt whatever you’re doing at home, and generally families don’t like playing second fiddle – certainly not during evenings and weekends. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether to look. You could turn off alerts and volume.
Leave Work at the Office
Leading on from not checking your phone, be ready to leave your work behind when you get up to leave for the day. Writing a list before you leave will help your mind switch off, so you might find it beneficial to spend some dedicated time at the end of the day writing lists and preparing for the next day, then go home and leave work behind.
Make Rules and Stick to Them
Each of us will have a slightly different idea of what constitutes a work-life balance, and if you want to achieve it, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of what it means to you. We’re more likely than ever to blur the lines between home life and work life, so consider what works for you. Do you need the flexibility to do the school run? Does that need to be every day? Would being able to work from home help?
Once you’ve clarified what work-life balance looks like in your life, and you’ve agreed it all with your employer, you need to be strong enough to stick to it and learn to say no. Your timetable is important to you, but it won’t be as important to others, so they will forget that you’re scheduled to be out of the office on every second Thursday. So when a meeting invitation comes through and you’re meant to be somewhere else, don’t bend: decline the invitation, saying no more than you won’t be in the office that day. There is no need to explain further.
There are things that employers can suggest to help us, but ultimately much of the balancing act is down to staying strong and sticking to our guns.