In the modern, digitised world of remote working and thinking machines, it’s too easy to forget that we humans are social beings who need to connect with others for our well-being. But what happens when we spend too much time working and not enough time living? How does this affect our mental health and happiness?
Work-life balance captures how we manage our time and energy between our professional and personal lives. Without getting this right, without cultivating this intentionally, it is impossible to stay true to our mission and values in a sustainable way.
Work-life balance is not a fixed formula that works for everyone, but rather a dynamic and flexible process that depends on our individual needs, preferences and circumstances.
Having a good work-life balance means that we can fulfil our responsibilities and goals at work without neglecting our health, relationships and hobbies outside of work. It is the key to sustained high-level functioning.
The challenge is, many of us have been socialised into an “always on” culture, where we wear busyness like it’s a badge of honour. A remnant of a legacy corporate culture which still permeates business across industries, and which continues to push the already-refuted ideology that the only way to meet our professional goals is through working beyond our capacities forever. Poor work-life balance is, in the very first instance, a consequence of poor mindset. We are not to blame for this mindset, but we have a responsibility to change it, for ourselves, our business, our families and our communities.
So what might this look like? Here are some tips to help you find your own balance:
- Notice the pain – start tracking your stress levels, and notice how it affects your mental health, your physical health and your relationships. Co-track your performance and stress, and be clear about those negative triggers that bend you out of shape.
- Identify your needs – notice what supports you to show up to work with a spring in your step, with motivation. Identify those positive triggers that allow you to show up as your full self.
- Cultivate a boundaries mindset – healthy work-life boundary is where you can be effective at work and be nourished by life simultaneously. Any imbalance can never be costless in the long-run. Clarify how you can rejig your professional life via the way you do meetings, protected time and relationship to screens so you can give life a chance.
- Set realistic and clear goals – For yourself at work and at home. Learn to consistently prioritise tasks, focus on the important ones and delegate or eliminate the less important ones.
- Manage your time wisely – Plan your schedule ahead of time and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid distractions and interruptions that waste your time. Learn to say no to requests or demands that are not urgent or relevant.
- Learn best-practise in self care – Take breaks regularly. Give yourself some time to relax, recharge and refresh yourself throughout the day, and integrate deep-rest intentionally and strategically based around times of particular pressure and work-related bottle-necks.
- Seek help when you need it – We are not meant to do this alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your co-workers, family or friends when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. And if it feels safe, even your boss, though we understand this isn’t always possible. The stigma around professional support also needs an update – therapy changes lives.
- Treat it as a discipline – Remember that balance is not a one-time thing, but an ongoing process that requires constant adjustment and evaluation. Be flexible and open to change when your situation or needs change.
What’s the pay-off – luckily, the evidence is absolutely clear, work-life balance helps us to:
- Mitigate burnout – Working too much or too hard causes us to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and burned out, and crucially, undermines our performance in the medium-long term. This can lead to physical and mental health problems such as insomnia, headaches, depression and anxiety. By finding a balance between work and life, we can reduce the pressure and demands that we face and cope better with stress.
- Boost our mood and self-esteem – Working too little or not at all can also have negative effects on our mental health. It can make us feel bored, unfulfilled and isolated. By engaging in meaningful and rewarding work that matches our skills and interests, we can increase our sense of purpose, achievement and satisfaction. This can improve our mood and self-esteem.
- Strengthen our relationships and social support – Working in isolation or neglecting our social life can make us feel lonely, disconnected and unsupported. By maintaining a healthy social network of friends, family and colleagues we can share our joys and challenges with others who care about us and offer us help and advice.
- Nurture our creativity and growth – Working on the same tasks or routines every day can make us feel bored, stagnant and uncreative. By pursuing our passions and hobbies outside of work, we can stimulate our imagination and curiosity. We can also learn new skills, discover new interests and expand our horizons.
Finding a good work-life balance may not be easy, but it is worth it. By taking care of yourself and your mental health, you’ll be able to show up more fully, for yourself and others, and ultimately, stay on course with your values and mission during this one and precious life.
Like our thinking? We’d like to invite you to our next public keynote on 25th July at 11am. Please contact us below to register your attendance