How to address work/life imbalance

Practical advice from recruitment specialist Michael Page

Is your job taking over your life? Have your friends forgotten what you look like? Many people are guilty of getting to the office earlier than needed and leaving hours after everyone else is long gone.

If that isn’t bad enough, many dedicated employees also put in hours at home in the evenings and on the weekends, significantly reducing the time left over to spend with family and friends or to relax and recoup. 

Reasons you should address a work/life imbalance

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

Essentially, it all comes down to better time management. We recommend following these five tips to improve your work/life balance. 

1. Use your commute

Public transport is a good 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 wind down 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 and 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 effective during the day.

Driving to work is slightly trickier, as you’ll be concentrating on the road. If reading is your thing, invest in some audio books and make the most of your drive time. If you can carpool, you might 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 stuff 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’s 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 other people 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’re 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. 

If you’re still struggling to improve your work/life balance after trying out our tips, maybe it’s time to consider changing roles – browse Michael Page jobs today.

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