Well here we are again – the beginning of a New Year and at the risk of sounding clichéd, what better time is there for reflections and resolutions. As I was scoffing ham and swigging champagne, I couldn’t help but reflect on the train wreck that was December (well, that may be exaggerating but I do like a good story). What was clear was that my work life balance was out of whack.
I know, I know, harping on about work life balance is very predictable and probably a bit boring, but I’ve thrown together some thoughts which I’m hoping might get me back on the right side of the work life ledger for 2018.
Build downtime into your schedule
If you are the type of person that has your outlook calendar split into 15 minute time slots then this will be a no-brainer, but for some people (like me) this requires a little more effort. Believe me, it’s worth it.
If you schedule in that haircut, game of squash or lunch with friends then you won’t feel half as guilty. More importantly, you won’t accidentally double book and end up in some boring meeting instead.
Learn to say ‘no’
The art of knowing when to say ‘no’ will really help if you have too much on your plate. Of course you can’t say no to everything (well that’s what I tell my kids anyway) but if you don’t have the time or the skills, or maybe you don’t even have the inclination, saying ‘no’ early and clearly is the best approach.
Make time for exercise
In all honesty, I almost didn’t include this on my list because I firmly believe there is enough guilt in the world – and if exercising isn’t your gig then I’m not going to tell you to add it to you “must do list”.
However I could not, in good conscience, fly in the face of the irrefutable fact that exercise is good. So whether it’s walking the dog, kick boxing or Zumba, think about getting into something that moves your body and that you enjoy.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that are the final breaking point. Coming home to an untidy house, baking another batch of treats for a shared morning tea or negotiating the horrors of the supermarket aisle. Maybe you could get a cleaner, shopping online may be an option and there is no shame in buying something for a shared morning tea.
Build support networks
As Hugh Grant famously coined in the movie ‘About a Boy’ – No Man is an Island. When life is super busy, it’s easy to block everything else out and just knuckle down, but the older and busier I get the more I recognise the value of collaboration – and not just at work. The benefit of being able to text a friend to pick up your kids when you’re in a squeeze, or call on a colleague when you’re a bit swamped is invaluable.
Turn off distractions
Turning off my phone alerts was the very best thing I did last year. Not to suffer heart palpitations every time my phone vibrated and not to have my emails flashing up on my phone every time I picked it up, did wonders for my nerves. It’s also a great idea to put clear out of office messages on your email and make it clear on your email signature your hours of work and availability.
This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of strategies – but I don’t want to sound too preachy or take up too much of your valuable time – so hopefully one or two points have resonated, and good luck getting your work life balance right for 2018.
By Emily Bisset