Work/life – how to strike the right balance

Work/life – how to strike the right balance

Every employer expects a certain level of hard work from their staff. However, judging exactly how much work to take on can be difficult, on one hand you need to consider what your employer expects you to do, and what they would expect you to do if you want to be considered for pay rises, promotion etc; and on the other hand the longer you spend at work the less time you have to spend with your family and doing the things you really enjoy. Spending too much time working can also lead to serious stress problems.

Here are some tips for establishing a healthy work/life balance:

Learn to say No – if you are always being asked to take on additional tasks, it is probably a sign that your company thinks highly of you. But if you become known as someone who always says Yes when asked to do something, your workload could become intolerable.

Ask for help when required – if you are struggling with your workload, talk to your line manager and see what tasks can be allocated to others. This is especially relevant if you are taking on a new task or project, in which case you ideally also need to get rid of one of your existing tasks.

Don’t strive for perfection all the time – employers naturally expect work tasks to be carried out to a high standard, but consider that no reasonable employer will expect perfection every time. So for example it’s not necessary to proofread that report five times before you submit it.

Become more efficient at work – always think about better ways of performing tasks, where you can complete them faster but without compromising quality.

Don’t reply instantly to every message – emails and text messages will still be on your phone in an hour’s time, 12 hours, 24 hours and so on. Stopping what you are doing to read and reply to every message instantly is unlikely to be productive.

Make to-do lists before you leave the office each day – if you don’t do this, you could find yourself spending the evening and night going over in your head what you need to do the following morning, which could affect your family time and your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Completely switch off for at least one evening a week – plan something you really enjoy for one or more evenings each week, and switch off your mobile, pager and computer before you start this activity.

Consider making a request for flexible working – a request to work flexibly could mean working part-time, working from home for all or part of the week, or working different hours. Consider if requesting any of these would improve your work/life balance. Your employer can only refuse a request of this kind if there is a genuine business reason for doing so.

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