Four steps to improve your work-life balance

We live in a modern world obsessed with working and achieving – and that isn’t a bad thing – but we do have an issue with mental wellness lead by this obsession. Bianca Miller Cole looks at how to achieve a better work-life balance

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article which appeared on the Forbes website.

What has caused this obsession with working and being a workaholic? The primary reason for this obsession is due to the materialistic nature of modern society. It would appear that social media has had a profound effect on exacerbating the desire to purchase nice clothes, cars, homes and holidays. The desire to provide more for themselves and their families has resulted in honest people being willing to work extremely hard to do so. What they do not realise, however, is that this can be very damaging – particularly if their job involves large amounts of time spent working and not living life or obtaining a sensible balance.

Those individuals who are prone to overwork should always be aware that maintaining a work-life balance is one of the most important things in life – to be happy and have good emotional and psychological wellbeing should be a priority. In a society where lots of people are struggling with mental illness (often due to overwork, stress and sleep deprivation) it is important to establish a way in which one could improve one’s own balance. A good work-life balance allows one to live a fulfilling life – a life that is about more than just career trajectory and finance.

Here are a few tips which would allow an individual to better utilise the time spent away from work which should, in turn, allow them to enjoy all the finer things that life has to offer.

Tip 1: Limit your time on social media
The first way that you could improve your work-life balance is by ensuring that you limit the time you spend on social media and various other online platforms. It is becoming more and more common for people to spend endless amounts of time on social media platforms, be it for work or entertainment purposes. However, this is not always beneficial and can reduce the amount of genuine interaction that an individual may have with their friends and/or family.

It is important, therefore, to limit yourself to a certain amount of social media time per day. This needn’t be an extremely small amount of time; however, by spending time away from these platforms, you are allowing your mind to rest and recover, which is vital for anyone who lives a busy working life. It may also give you back time to utilise in other ways, such as adequate time to relax and to spend quality time with loved ones.

Stats have shown that ‘digital detoxing’ is very important in a society in which social media platforms can be a very impactful on mindset.

Tip 2: Separate work life from personal life
Another way to improve your work-life balance is to ensure that you use your time away from work to concentrate on being away from work – i.e. putting up boundaries.

For most people, checking their emails or text messages for work updates has become habitual. This means, however, that their minds are far more likely to be thinking about working than relaxing, thereby limiting the time which they may need to recuperate. One simple solution to this problem is to avoid texts or emails which involve work over the weekend or outside of work times; by doing so, you can enjoy time to yourself, or with your family.

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This might, in principle, mean not having work emails on your personal ‘phone or just being extremely disciplined. Either way, if you are at dinner, and still responding to work emails that are not urgent, then it is time to think about what to do.

Tip 3: Create some protected ‘me time’
I have found I am genuinely surprised by how rarely people spend time by themselves; this might be because they are too focused on the week ahead or other, less important, things. However, I think it is vital to spend some time focusing purely on your own needs as your wellbeing is so vitally important. One way of doing this might be by picking a hobby which you can do by yourself, or with a small group, which allows your mind to relax.

A common hobby that people adopt is sport. Sport is a good option as it allows you to ensure that you are both physically and mentally fit. Also, by playing sport, you are likely to interact with new people, meaning that you are able to build new relationships – which is a positive step in the right direction.

Tip 4: Spend time with people you like
As well as allocating some alone time, you should ensure that you allocate time to spend with people you like – e.g. family, friends, romantic partners etc. Time with loved ones is, after all, one of the most precious things that an individual could ask for. One idea that I quite like is that of a family games night – because it means that you are able to interact with your loved ones in a way which does not have to involve a television or technology. All you would need is a few simple board games and a pack of playing cards. This method of relaxation is good for anyone who struggles to relax when they are alone because you may well find it easier to chill out when others around you are trying to do so.

So, there we have it. Now you know my four steps to maximising your work-life balance, it is up to you to put them into place. Lots of people fear the idea of relaxation as they believe that, by not working, they will get left behind and overtaken by competitors. This doesn’t have to be the case. Relaxation can, in fact, allow you to recharge your batteries and come back stronger, healthier and smarter than those around you. You should, therefore, try your best to relax – because not only can it improve your mental wellbeing, it can also improve your ability to work at your best.

Bianca Miller-Cole is an entrepreneur, personal branding expert, author and speaker who helps people to thrive in their careers and business lives.

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