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How to address work/life imbalance

by Adam Rouse | 8 April 2015

In today's world, many people are guilty of arriving to the office earlier than necessary and leaving hours after everyone else is long gone. Additionally, many dedicated employees also put in hours at home in the evenings and at the weekends which reduces their time spent with family and friends, and most importantly, time to rest.

Common reasons you should address work/life imbalance include:

  • Feeling overworked and overwhelmed
  • Wanting to spend more quality time with family
  • Your long commute takes up too much time in the day
  • Neglecting friends/social commitments
  • Working from home in the evenings or at weekends. 

Admittedly, I am guilty when it comes down to coming in early and staying late. However, as my wife recently gave birth to our first daughter, I had to come up with a new strategy and discovered the key to balancing my professional and home life was improved time-management.

Here are my 5 tips on how to improve your time management skills:

1. Use your commute

  • Public transport is an excellent opportunity to respond to emails so that you're ready to crack on with work as soon as you arrive at the office. Alternatively, use this time to catch up on reading - some downtime before and after work can help take your mind off the stress of the office and help you relax at the end of the day. 
  • If you live close enough to your workplace to walk, run or cycle to and from work. Use this as your daily exercise. You could save costs on gym fees and time in the evening that could be spent with friends or family! Exercise and eating healthily boosts your energy and alertness, so you should be more productive during the day.
  • Driving to work is slightly trickier as you'll be concentrating on the road. If you enjoy reading, perhaps invest in some audio books and make the most of your drive time. If possible, find a colleague to car pool with; you may not be saving time but at least you could save on petrol costs. 

2. Prioritise work tasks

  • While you can't always keep to tight schedules at work (phone calls/meetings that overrun are common reasons for pushing back other tasks), giving yourself some daily and weekly deadlines can help you be more productive and leave on time each day. Use your phone, email or calendar to set yourself reminders; careful organisation can save you hours of frittering. 

3. Schedule your life outside of work

  • Putting work meetings in the diary is a daily norm - it helps keep you on track during those busy work hours. The same can apply to your home life. If you give your social commitments some 'structure', you're more likely to keep them. Next time you meet a friend for coffee, instead of saying "Let's catch up again soon”, put a date and time in both your diaries. 
  • Making the most of your weekend can also be tricky if you don't have plans in place. You might find yourself on Monday morning in the office thinking, "Where did the weekend go?”. It's important to get plenty of rest but this is your time to engage in the things you love outside of work. Try planning three things to do at weekends for the next three weeks - they don't have to be on separate weekends, you could do all three in one! At the end of the three weeks, your work/life balance should seem more apparent. 
  • Try doubling up on things too - make your exercise regime social by running with a friend or meeting them at the gym. 

4. Save time, go online

  • Does your weekly food shop take up your entire Sunday afternoon? Save the weekends for fun and start online shopping during one lunch break per week. Many online supermarket websites will allow you to save 'favourites' so you don't have to trawl through pages to find your favourite loaf and many have an app to use on your tablet or mobile. Even better, delivery can be arranged for a time that is convenient for you. 

5. Share the load

  • There are other ways to minimise the time you spend doing things you don't really want to be doing. Swap tasks with friends, family and even neighbours - offer to mow their lawn in exchange for ironing your shirts! If you're not on a budget, consider hiring a cleaner or a gardener.
  • At work, talk to your manager about your current workload. There may be colleagues in your team or wider department who would like additional responsibilities that you could share tasks with. Be sure to keep your manager in the loop with everything you're working on so they are always aware of how much you've got on.

Our tips may seem like common sense, but getting organised can seem daunting and many people tend to put it off. Trial yourself for a couple of months and see how it pays off. 

What other tips do you have to improve work/life balance? I'd love to her your thoughts in the comments below..