How to achieve a good work-life balance

With almost a third of UK workers feeling that they have a poor work-life balance, it’s becoming an important issue to address. Not only does it affect our relationships and home life happiness, but it can also take its toll on our mental health. With the SBM role consuming time, and piling on pressure, what can be done to achieve a better balance?

The general consensus appears to be that the adults in the UK are overworked. Maintaining a healthy balance between home and work life seems to become more difficult the older we get, with statistics showing that the younger the employee, the less likely they are to identify work-life balance as an important part of their job. The task of juggling a family alongside a job is also difficult for many to manage with statistics revealing that 75% of working parents suffer stress and anxiety as a result of their work-life balance management.

Businesses aiming to operate at maximum capacity take a toll. Research has found that, as a person’s weekly hours increase, so do their feelings of unhappiness. Even for those who don’t work long hours, there is still the issue of ‘switching off’ and disconnecting from what’s happened at the office. In fact, one third of European workers said that a bad day at work affected their personal life.

As SBMs work more, they have less time to spend with those they love, less time to focus on accomplishing goals that aren’t work-related and less time to pursue outside hobbies and dreams. Although we can’t change the regulation of our workplace, there are some things we can do to help manage our work-life balance.

Regular breaks
Research has proven that taking regular breaks can improve your productivity. Split your hour-long break up into half an hour and two 15-minute breaks to decrease the amount of time spent at your desk at one time. Get some fresh air, or spend time talking to family on the ‘phone; taking a small action like this could reduce your stress levels.

Short commute
A long commute is also a contributor to stress and depression according to one study. This is a good reason to propose flexi-time, where you can skip the traffic at each side of your day and do something more productive. Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone, but you can take steps to make your commute feel more productive; listening to a podcast or audio book can reduce the stress of rush-hour traffic, for example. Alternatively, going to a gym near to your workplace can mean that you miss the bulk of the busy traffic and will allow you to fit some exercise into your day as well.

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Leave emails at the office
Although it can be difficult, restrict yourself on checking emails when you’ve finished work. Think of the long-term issues that mixing home and work life can have and aim to check your emails for a limited number of minutes rather than continuously. The same goes for working overtime; unless it’s entirely necessary, make sure you are sticking to your agreed number of hours. Working long hours can not only affect your mental health, but can also lead others to expect this behaviour from you at all times.

Take your holiday
Make sure you’re using your annual holidays to recharge and spend time with family. We’re all guilty of using our holidays to run errands or do something that we’ve been putting off, but this isn’t always helpful for work-life balance. Although necessary now and then, annual leave should be used to recuperate, relax and enjoy time away from the office – try to focus on this.

The current situation is not great for UK workers – particularly those in education – but there are some small changes that you can make to your daily routine to improve the balance. From splitting up your break to making the most of your holidays, being conscious of finding a good compromise between the office and your spare time is the first step to improving your work-life balance.

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