Achieving the right work/ life balance

It was after yet another week of falling into bed exhausted from five days of non- stop to do lists that I found myself wondering whether I had the right work/ life balance.

Why do I push myself to the point of burn out and why do I do everything in a rush? These are questions I ask myself daily as I bend over backwards to juggle all the plates that my work life and personal life throw at me.

I’m not one of those people for whom work is their whole life. I know when to take a break and I’m pretty good at leaving work on time too but I know not everyone is.

Just telling you to take a break and enjoy time to yourself isn’t going to be helpful so I thought I’d make a list of tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of years which have helped me achieve the right work/ life balance.

Have a ‘do nothing’ day

Self care has been at the fore front of people’s minds for a while now thanks to discussions around mental health. Having a ‘do nothing’ day is seen as a positive step in taking care of your mental health and for me; helps to create a healthy work/ life balance.

Do yourself a favour and set aside a day or just an evening a week (Sundays are usually best) to treat yourself to some relaxed hours doing as little as you can.

Chloe has a great post on this and I agree with her idea to draw yourself a nice long bath accentuated by some relaxing music. ( I recommend Enya). Use a face mask (which I definitely don’t do enough) and just relish in the felling of being totally relaxed and fresh.

I also like to do a bit of reading or yoga to relax but do whatever takes your fancy.

Schedule time in your calendar for particular tasks

This tip relates to managing your working life. If you find you’re not getting half the things done on your to do list, why not take 5 minutes at the start of the day to block out time in your calendar for these tasks? Maybe all it needs is an hour here or there throughout the week. By putting it in your calendar, you will be physically prompted by Outlook to do it (if you use Outlook calendars).

A good way to manage your priorities is to write your to do list just before you leave work for the evening. That way, when you come into work the next day, you won’t have to faff about wondering where to start as you prepared a list the day before.

Take all of your annual leave (and use it wisely!)

Can you believe that some people don’t use all of their annual leave?! As soon as the new year begins, I start thinking about when will be best to take leave and what I’m going to do with my time off.

Book your leave strategically by tagging it onto the end of bank holiday weekends or next to weekends.

A couple of years ago, I was able to book every Friday off in December and my god was it the best thing I’ve ever done. December is the busiest, most stressful month of the year for many of us but by doing this, I managed to get so much life admin (read: present buying) done without a last minute panic.

Use your annual leave to spend time with the people you love but also make it a relaxing one oh and for god’s sake – don’t check your emails!

Establish a work routine

Having a work routine isn’t always possible if you’re not sure what’s going to happen or where you’re going to be from one day to the next. However, if like me you know you’ll be predominantly at your desk all day, there are things you can do to make your day a bit more structured.

My day starts with breakfast at my desk. This is not always the case but most of the time I will eat at work and I find I’m less likely to snack since I’ve had breakfast a bit later. It also gives me time to have a look at my emails without replying straight away. This is so important to me as some emails I get require me to problem solve. I can then think about this as I eat and formulate the best reply.

The most challenging of tasks are always done in the morning. I concentrate best between about 10 – 11:30 so any longer projects need to be done then to avoid my afternoon slump.

Next is lunch. I make sure I take at least half an hour for lunch every day depending on what meetings we have. The best case scenario is half an hour for lunch and half an hour for a walk round the block. Fresh air is a must unless it’s snowing, torrential rain or below 5 degrees!

Once the fresh air has helped me clear my head, I will start on another project. It depends on how tired I’m feeling as to what I do next. I like to reserve the afternoons for admin heavy tasks such as processing invoices as I will now be feeling the effects of my lunch and start becoming tired.

Afternoons are also for tea rounds which I time for about 3 o’clock and gives me the chance to get off my chair and stretch my legs for 10 minutes.

All of this is part of my work routine and one I like to repeat on the days I have in the office. Having this routine makes me feel like I’m balancing my workload well.

What works well for you to keep a good work/life balance?

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