How to Regain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Updated: Sep 21
Are you happy with your work-life balance? The vast majority of people would probably say they weren’t.
Maybe you are trying to fit too many activities into the available time, or spending too much time on one or other of the activities – perhaps spending excessive amount of time working or thinking about work each week.
This mismatch between your ideal and actual work-life balance can leave you feeling down and frustrated with work. And working long hours can have a negative impact on your productivity and be detrimental to your physical health.
Could your work-life balance be improved?
Try this simple exercise to find out:
Think about how you are spending your time in a typical week.
Draw two circles on a piece of paper one to represent how you actually spend your time, and the other to show how you would ideally spend your time.
Divide them up as you would a cake with each slice representing how much time you spend on each activity.
Include things like work, time with your friends and family, hobbies, exercise, relaxation, household chores and sleep.
How do they look? Are they similar? If not, check out what is preventing your actual balance from being closer to your ideal.
Improving your work-life balance
One of the easiest ways to improve your work-life balance, is by learning to work smarter.
This will make you more efficient at work, freeing up your time for those other important activities that help to maintain your resilience.
Tips for smarter working
Make a list of what you need to do each day and label each one as essential, important or less important. Focus on completing the essential things first and put what is less important on hold (or delegate them) where you can.
Building short recovery breaks into your day will help you to maintain your focus and perform at your peak. Notice when your energy levels are flagging and take a break at that point. Don't put it off until you finish what you are working on. That will be too late and could be hours later. Research shows that taking a break when you need it will allow you to come back to the work refreshed, more productive and able to complete the task faster.
Although it can sometimes feel easier to put your head down and get on with things yourself, asking for help and sharing tasks out will ultimately save you time and can contribute to a reduction in your stress levels. Collaborating with others can also strengthen relationships and creates opportunity for mutual support in the future.
Let go of perfectionism
Often, the standards we set ourselves are too high making them difficult to achieve and we don’t allow ourselves to accept any mistakes. This is unrealistic and soaks up time that can be spent elsewhere. Instead aim for ‘good enough’ and move on to the next task.
Build in a buffer
When planning time for meetings or other activities, allow extra time for any unforeseen events that may interrupt the activity or cause it to take longer than expected.
Breaking tasks down into manageable steps makes it easier to maintain your focus. You could also reward yourself for completing things. If you do find yourself starting to procrastinate, make an effort to notice any negative thinking patterns and use flexible thinking to help you get back on track.
This last point is often the one people have the most trouble with. If it is difficult for you, try to identify what the reason for that is and think about how you can overcome that barrier. There are various strategies you can use to say no, including the ‘broken record technique’ and the ‘rain-check no’.
For more tips and ideas check out our blog on assertiveness, or watch this short TED video, Empowering through Body Language – Top Tips for Essential Assertiveness by Amy Cuddy.
Or get in touch to find out more about help you to support employee mental health, wellbeing and resilience.