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The majority of the candidates we speak to are in search of a job that gives them the perfect, or at least a better balance between their work and home life. Very often, work ends up taking priority over many other aspects in life as our desire to succeed professionally can push other elements to the side.
Having the ability to integrate everything in order to create a harmonious work-life balance will improve your physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. This can often be challenging but, post-pandemic, it’s crucial to everyone’s quality of life.
This article will look at some handy tips, as well as offer our advice for achieving a happy and healthy balance in your job.
The desire for large salaries and bonus schemes is slowly declining, and increased annual leave allowance alongside the opportunity for flexible working are fast becoming two of the most sought-after benefits for job seekers across most industries and sectors.
First of all, it's important to understand what the term 'work-life balance' means. It refers to the prioritisation between personal and professional; work and home. Having a healthy work-life balance, rose in prominence during and following on from COVID-19, when it became much easier to continue working after your contracted hours were over.
Technology has also impacted people's work-life balance as many professionals will have their work emails synced up to their personal mobile phones or other communicating methods such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Ultimately, each person's balance of 'work' and 'life' is different and it's certainly not about splitting your time 50/50. However, it's important to understand your ideal work-life balance, to ensure you're not spending too much time working and enough time present with family and friends, or doing the things you enjoy - outside of work.
It's important that anyone working has a healthy work-life balance to ensure that they look after themselves physically and mentally, not only this but it will benefit the business that they work for, or run.
An unhealthy work-life balance can very often result in poor mental health with a survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that as someone's weekly hours increased, so did theyr feelings of unhappiness.
Not having enough down time, or time away from work, can leave employees feeling disengaged, demotivated and unproductive.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t a one size fits all approach but if you are struggling to find a balance that works for you, or simply want to improve on what you already have, you should consider the following points:
Work-life balance means different things to different people, and only you can decide what the perfect balance is for you. It is only once you decide this that you will be able to achieve a healthy balance.
Think about what will work for you and, above all else what you want the outcome of the changes to be, then make sure you make as many realistic alterations as possible.
You might want to spend more time with family and friends, less time travelling to the office and thinking about work out of hours, or even have the chance to take a full lunch break without getting calls. Whatever it is, it’s personal to you which means that it’s important and justified.
Our mobile phones and laptops are often to blame for keeping us working outside of our contracted hours, so make sure you set yourself a period of time away from these devices. This will not only help you to wind down and relax mentally, but will remind your friends and family that you are committed to life away from your desk, at the same time as reminding co-workers that you’re unavailable after work hours.
To make this easier, turn notifications off on your phone when you are not in work or on annual leave and try to resist having a look at your emails during this time. In doing so you will give yourself more time to spend doing the things you set out to do, and less time worrying about work and what needs to be done.
Home working can sometimes increase the number of hours spent in front of the screen, instead of relaxing in the morning and savouring the time that would usually be spent commuting, it is replaced with getting an extra hour or two of work done. Try not to fall into this trap.
Try not to worry if you are not able to complete everything on your to do list for a day or week. It is a great sign to your employer that you are willing to go the extra mile to meet your deadlines, but it is sometimes better to walk away and return to the task the following day or week with a clear mind.
It is also important to learn how to say no in the right circumstances, and if you feel you are under too much pressure at work, ask for help. More on this further in the article.
Taking huge amounts of work home will undoubtedly have an impact on your work-life balance, so it should be avoided where possible. If you feel like you have too much on, speak to your manager or someone that may be able to help relieve some of the pressure. You should be able to leave work at work – the majority of the time.
You could also try to break down the bigger tasks you have to do, doing smaller bits each day and conceptualising them as more achievable jobs could help reach the end goal.
This may of course be daunting because it means potentially finding a new job but no two employers are the same, so make sure that when you are looking for a position that you take into account the vision and values of the company. Do they promote flexible working or is overtime and weekend working the norm? You may want to do some background research of the organisation before applying to find this out.
Make sure you are comfortable with what a company expects of you before accepting a role. Some sectors will be better than others, so make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself in for, and choose an industry that works for you and your home life.
You might want to check out the company on Glassdoor, which allows former employees to anonymously review the companies. Similar to any review platform, there will be people making a mountain out of a molehill so make sure to look at a variety of them and if the resounding message doesn’t align with your values, move on and don’t waste your time…
It is crucially important to identify what is most important both in work and at home. Create a list of tasks that you need to complete and rank them in order of importance or even capitalise/highlight those that need looking at immediately.
This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects you and your business’ priorities. Make sure you do these tasks in order of priority and try not to procrastinate on things that you do not need to do, or are not that important at that moment in time.
Even when you are busy, it is important to make time for yourself. You can utilise this to do something productive like exercise or meditation, alternatively if you’re desperate to spend an hour or two doing nothing, do nothing! Exercise is a proven and effective stress reducer as it pumps feel-good endorphins through your body, and helps lift your mood. But an evening on the sofa with a takeaway might be just as necessary.
We would also always advise taking some time away from your desk each day. Whether that be an hour over lunch, or a ten-minute tea break – or both! This time away will allow you to gather your thoughts, and come back fresh and eager to crack on.
If you make yourself available 24/7 you will likely be overloaded with work so it is important to harness the power of saying no. You don’t need to be rude, but if you manage people’s expectations and offer advice and alternative solutions you should be able to say no to work that may otherwise sit outside of your remit. This will help you reduce your workload, and the stress you are under overall.
It’s important not to feel guilty about saying no, as long as you really can’t help. Your job might involve having superiors delegate tasks to you, but that doesn’t mean that your time is any less valuable.
You can explain that you have other things on, or tell them that it will not be completed in the time thy are asking for it to be, giving a reasonable and honest timeframe that will be more achievable.
If you are still struggling to find the right work-life balance for you, why not talk to one of our experienced Consultants? They will be able to take your personal requirements and circumstances into mind and search for jobs within companies that match your aims and needs.
Alternatively, you can find more help on securing your next dream job in our Candidate section.