Achieving a healthy work-life balance can have a positive effect on your personal and family life as well as your professional career. However, many of us struggle to maintain that healthy balance of our work and home life, and it can be even more tricky to harmonise this whilst working from home. This is mainly down to the fact we have no physical separation from our work devices at home, so our work and personal lives can sometimes merge into one!
Due to technology advancements, companies may have already adopted a working from home or remote working strategy however for newbies to this tradition, it may be harder to conform to a healthy balance. Maybe you've been working from home or remotely for some time or perhaps the effects of Covid-19 has chosen this new way of life for you? Either way, it's essential to find a balance that works for you and remember the importance of disconnecting for a healthier personal life.
So, what is meant by work-life balance?
A work-life balance is how we all split our time between our professional careers and our personal life. You are perhaps dedicating too much of your time to work commitments out of your usual hours, whilst neglecting your lifestyles such as seeing family and friends or attending hobbies or vice versa. The Mental Health Foundation has discovered that over 40% of workers are neglecting their personal commitment due to the demands of work, causing two-thirds of people experiencing a negative effect on their home life. And with our work and personal lives all under the same roof, the difficulties to strike a healthy balance between the two are heightened.
Why is work-life balance important?
Adopting an unhealthy work-life balance can have many negative effects on our well-being as individuals and according to the Mental Health Foundation, the increasing demands of work culture is potentially the biggest challenge to peoples mental health in the UK. An unhealthy routine can cause chronic stress, a decrease in productivity and work quality, and most importantly affect your personal commitments and overall wellbeing.
Remember that everyone is different and tactics that work for your colleagues may not work for you! Achieving a healthy work-life balance that works for you can have a positive impact on your life as a whole, from improving your work performance and decreasing the possibility of burnout, to enjoying your personal life with friends and family, and taking care of your well-being.
What can you do to achieve a healthier work-life balance?
Technology and digital advancements combined with an increase in remote working mean most of us to have our laptops and phones at home casting a lack of separation. Learning how to switch off from work mode when your computer remains in the corner of your eye is tough and you may be inclined to log on during your out of hours just because it's there!
It's easy to get tangled up in a routine of checking your emails every evening or at the weekend, so make sure to leave your work phone tucked away in a drawer and turned off during your non-working hours. If you can, try and tidy away your work belongings at the end of the working day to a spot out of sight, to eliminate the urge to 'pop on' and check emails or finish off a task. Those with desktops at home may find this more difficult as the upheaval of these larger devices isn't very justifiable! However, if your working area is encouraging you to log on in your out of hours, it may be worth considering a different space in the house to set up (if possible).
Stick to a schedule
Without the daily morning and evening commute, or a prompt to take your lunch or afternoon break, it can be easy to fall into an unhealthy schedule. And being so close to your work laptop or phone, you are far more inclined to start that wee bit earlier, work over lunch or sporadically check your emails every evening. Try to stick to your usual hours, start and finish work as you normally would at the office, and give yourself genuine breaks away from your computer to relax and refresh.
Prioritising your workload and creating a plan for each day will also help keep your working days more streamlined and ensure you are completing the most important tasks first. Don't flood your planner with multiple tasks as this will incur extra stress and increase the chances of you working way over your hours to get it all done. Be realistic about the timeframes of certain projects and have a list of tasks that can be completed if you have time that day.
Are you heading back to work after furlough or starting a new working from home role? Check out our article dedicated to re-mastering your working routine
Plan after-work and weekend activities
Ok, so there may not be a great selection of exciting activities to plan nowadays due to many industries still to open however even scheduling in a short walk each evening can prompt you to switch off at a decent time. No matter how big or small, having activities planned for the evening ahead or over the weekend can help divert your thoughts from work and focus more on quality time with friends or family. You may have also conducted some personal errands back when you were at your workplace, so why not keep these traditions and pop out from home on your lunch break?
Focus on a positive and healthy lifestyle
Your mindset can have a huge impact on how you approach your workload and contribute to eliminating further stress levels. Staying active and promoting positive mental wellbeing are key factors that lead towards a healthy lifestyle, so make sure you set aside time to focus on exercise and eliminate factors which may hinder your mental health. A little self-care also goes a long way, and there are now many phone apps that can help you distress, focus on your breathing to keep you relaxed and even help you sleep at night without work worries taking over. Alternatively, spending some time in the mornings or evenings to read some of a book, or do a quick yoga or meditation series could help you remain calm and keep work anxieties at bay.
Say no or ask for extra support
In order to strike a healthy work-life balance, sometimes it is necessary to communicate our limits and boundaries. In other words, it is important to say no to extra work or request additional support from a colleague if you feel it will create an imbalance between your work and personal time. If you are at home caring for family or looking after the kids, remember to let your employer know and even request a more flexible work structure to accommodate for these personal commitments. This will eliminate the need to try and do everything at once, which not only hinders your work quality but will also have a negative impact on your home life.
Remote working or working from home allows you to have more time to yourself, eliminating the commute and reducing the time it takes to get ready in the morning. Take advantage of this spare free time to focus on you and your wellbeing! If you can create strong boundaries, prioritise your workload and also spend quality time doing the things you love, you'll have your work-life balance nailed in no time.
Discover more advice on this topic by visiting our 'Top tips on staying productive whilst working from home' blog