Alexis Thompson on finding a better work life balance in 2016
I don’t know about you but my inbox has been over-flowing these last few weeks with various press releases and promotional emails suggesting I find ‘a better work life balance in 2016’. Well I suppose in an ideal world I would, but unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world. In reality, for the most part, we’re all running like headless chickens trying to juggle work, family and day-to-day chores. And when we do manage to find some spare time, we’re frantically trying to cram in a bit of exercise or relaxation to basically tick a box because we’re all too exhausted to actually enjoy it. All sounds a bit depressing doesn’t it? In truth life can turn into a hamster wheel but only if we let it – therefore I welcome any emails that encourage me to think more about achieving a better work life balance in 2016. And with more people citing ‘a better work life balance’ as a reason for swapping jobs
, it’s the one thing we all seem to be striving for in 2016.
Getting a better work life balance is not beyond our reach – if you want to achieve it here’s a few simple tips to consider:
Leave the office on time whenever you can
Sure there are always going to be nights when you have to stay longer to finish a project or hit a deadline, but for the most part, unless you’re seriously over-worked, most of us should be able to clock off at a reasonable hour. Good planning, focus and being able to prioritise your workload are all factors which help to make it easier to step away from your desk come evening time. Writing a to do list at the start of your day and sticking to it is a great way to plan and get organised. In terms of keeping focused – it’s nice to have a natter with your colleagues and catch up on news – but keep it brief and particularly on busy days, it might be best to stick your headphones on and try to zone out from the office humdrum going on around you. Prioritising your workload is always hard to do when so often we’re faced with various urgent requests; however, it’s quite possibly the most important skill to master in your professional life. If you fall into the trap of constantly checking emails or saying yes to every meeting invite that’s popped up in your diary, you may unfortunately never get round to actually doing your job.
Wake up a little earlier
I know this is a tough one on a cold, dark morning in January, but the time before work is often the most precious. In spite of just waking up – it’s the time of day (depending on your quality of sleep the night before) when energy reserves should be at their highest. It’s a good time to gather thoughts, reflect on the day ahead – perhaps even meditate or practice mindfulness. It’s also a great time to do a bit of exercise – even just a few stretches or a brisk walk around the block can get the blood circulating and the air into your lungs. I know how difficult this one is after numerous failed attempts of setting my alarm early to get up and go for run – the alarm went off but I never got up. One thing I found that made those dark January mornings slightly easier was investing in a sunrise alarm clock – the clock omits a sunny glow to mimic natural light and includes sounds from nature (you can choose from the sound of pattering rain drops, a trickling stream, or birds cheeping) which act as your alarm and ease you gently from your sleep.
Exercise and eat healthier
Everything seems a little more manageable when we eat healthy and exercise regularly, and so too will finding the perfect work life balance. Life gets hectic and stressful and the busier things get, quite often the more run down we feel. Looking after yourself by keeping your body and mind healthy through a good diet and regular exercise will do wonders, and will be particularly beneficial during stressful periods. Most of us complain about finding the time to do exercise, but think about those periods in the day which we waste surfing on social media sites or watching mindless TV? Getting up earlier, going for a run at lunchtime, or motivating ourselves to do exercise after work will actually increase our energy levels rather than deplete them in the long-term, and there’s less chance of feeling run down when you’re fighting fit.
Work from home
If your employer permits it then working from home – even just occasionally – can be a great way of finding a better work life balance. Flexible working, which includes working remotely, is becoming more commonplace in organisations and employees now have the right to request it. Working from home means cutting out the daily commute, and being able to manage your time the way you want to, without being restricted to the 9-5 working hours.