Whether you work to make money to support your family, to reach a personal goal or to make a difference in the world, you probably have weeks when you can’t find a minute for yourself, and your entire world revolves around spreadsheets, deadlines and angry customers.
As common as this feeling might be, you shouldn’t let it take over your life because it will ruin your health, emotional well-being and personal relationships.
Not having a work-life balance can lead to stress, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, burnout and mental health issues, so it’s very important to know where to draw the line and put yourself first.
Set clear boundaries.
The problem with letting work invade your personal life is that it happens little by little.
One day you reply to a work email at the weekend, and the next you let clients and workmates reach you 24/7, even when you’re on vacation or a date.
You can’t truly relax if you don’t make time for yourself, so set a clear timetable during which you can be contacted for work. If there’s a request outside those hours, let it wait until Monday or the next day – you may feel a little guilty at first, but you won’t lose the client, and you won’t get fired for it.
Don’t neglect vacations.
Going on a vacation isn’t just a fad. It’s a treat that you need and deserve. Take advantage of your paid leave and go on a well-deserved vacation, because it will improve both your physical and mental health.
Spending one week away at least once a year reduces stress and improves your relationships, and when you come back to work you’ll feel refreshed and energised.
Learn to delegate.
Whether you’re at work or home, delegating tasks clears out your schedule and allows you to focus on what really matters.
When writing down your daily tasks, ask yourself what can be done by you and you only, and what can be forwarded to someone else.
At work, you can delegate tasks to your assistants or colleague from other departments. At home, your spouse or children can help you with daily chores.
Not having time for yourself and being overwhelmed by work can make you feel anxious and irritable. When that happens, be open about it.
Tell your superiors/colleagues that work duties are causing you stress, and maybe there is a solution. When you get home, talk about your feelings with your loved ones to keep them in the loop. Otherwise your relationship will go cold, and they’ll think they’re to blame.
Spend more time offline.
You probably spend 8-plus hours in front of screens every day at work. So, if you do the same at home, your brain will not sense a difference, and you won’t feel that you’re done working.
A full digital detox can sound intimidating, but try to spend at least a couple of hours every day away from your phone or laptop. This will give you a moment to reconnect with yourself, rediscover your hobbies and communicate with loved ones.
Work on your hobbies.
Whether it’s painting, photography, exercise, reading or watching TV shows, your hobbies are what make you unique. You shouldn’t delete that part of your life to make room for work.
Don’t let a week go by without spending a couple of hours doing what you love. Invest time, energy and money into your hobbies, because although you won’t get paid for them, they give you the biggest reward: accomplishment.
Don’t neglect your health.
As important as your job might be, it’s not more important than your health. No matter how big the paycheck, don’t let work prevent you from taking care of yourself.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep, don’t work late, and eat right. Otherwise, you’ll feel more and more tired, and every aspect of your life will have to suffer.
Start each morning doing something you love.
Waking up every morning knowing that you have to go to work isn’t the best pick-me-up. Instead, try to start every day with something you love that gets you excited.
It doesn’t have to take precious sleep time or require a lot of energy. It can be something as simple as having a delicious breakfast, walking your dog, taking a 15-minute jog, watching a 20-minute episode of a sitcom or doing yoga.
If you’re passionate about it, getting out of bed will feel less like a chore.
Listen to your body.
Work-life balance doesn’t look the same for everyone. We all have different aspirations and physical limits.
Some actually don’t mind working overtime because they love their jobs; others feel overwhelmed by 9-to-5 schedules because their bodies have a different rhythm.
So, don’t make your schedule by anyone else’s rules. Listen to what your body is telling you and take a break when you feel tired.
Learn to say ‘no.’
People often take more responsibilities than they can handle at work, hoping to prove themselves, get a promotion or make a good impression.
However, it’s important to learn to say no sometimes and put yourself first.
If you feel that work is slowly taking over your life, and personal projects are getting pushed back by job responsibilities, explain to your superiors that the amount of work you have right now is enough, and you can start a new project once you finish an existing one.
About the Author:
David Trounce is a Small Business Consultant and the Founder of Mallee Blue Media, an agency specialising in marketing and online business development. David works with remote teams and freelancers from Australia, West Africa, the United States and South East Asia. Check out David’s PeoplePerHour profile
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