find your work-life balance

Find out how to get things back in sync...

Essentials (South Africa) - - CONTENTS NOVEMBER 2018 -

Find your WoRk-LifE BALAnCE

Ac­cord­ing to life coach Nicky At­ten­bor­ough, we tend to glo­rify busy­ness. ‘ It’s as if be­ing busy is a sign of value as a per­son – it can even shape your self- es­teem. This of­ten drives re­lent­less ac­tiv­ity – i.e. be­ing busy – which can leave us feel­ing burnt out.’ Chang­ing the lan­guage you use to de­scribe your life could make a dif­fer­ence. A study by the Univer­sity of Texas re­veals that it’s not just how busy we are that causes stress, but how we de­scribe our lives af­fects us too. Us­ing words like ‘ busy’, ‘ hec­tic’ or ‘crazy’ will only make you feel more stressed so try an al­ter­na­tive like ‘event­ful’. But it’s not only our choice of words that can leave us feel­ing over­whelmed. Nicky ad­vises we need to be more care­ful when it comes to how we spend, and pri­ori­tise, our time, es­pe­cially at work. Here are a few tell­tale signs that you’re putting your job be­fore your well-be­ing, and tips on how to fix it...

1. You live at the of­fice

If your desk drawer is ba­si­cally a cap­sule of your life, stocked with snacks, cut­lery, tooth­paste and er, un­der­wear, then you may be in trou­ble. Start un­pack­ing it now so that you’re ac­tu­ally forced to go home, even­tu­ally. Think about why you spend so much time at the of­fice – is it be­cause you’re gen­uinely snowed un­der, are you work­ing hard in­stead of smart, or are you avoid­ing go­ing home be­cause things are tense with your part­ner?

2. Your re­la­tion­ships are be­com­ing strained

When you re­alise you’re spend­ing more time en­gag­ing in small talk with steve from ac­count­ing than you are with your own part­ner, some­thing’s gotta give. It’s all too easy to use the ex­cuse of work as a con­ve­nient es­cape from deal­ing with po­ten­tially com­pli­cated per­sonal re­la­tion­ships – and if friends are get­ting peeved and your chil­dren be­come more clingy than usual, it might be time to im­ple­ment dras­tic changes. Don’t know where to start? First thing’s first: make a point of leav­ing the of­fice at a rea­son­able hour so you have more time with fam­ily and friends.

3. Your to-do list is end­less

Hav­ing an ever- grow­ing to- do list might ac­tu­ally be slow­ing you down. How? You can’t do it all so you’re set­ting your­self up for fail­ure, and the sight of the list is likely enough to send you into a panic. But the so­lu­tion isn’t to ditch the to- do list en­tirely. Stud­ies show that

Do you tend to pri­ori­tise work over your per­sonal life? Read on to find out how to get things back in sync...

you’re more likely to get some­thing done if you’ve writ­ten it down, and not just be­cause you won’t for­get; hav­ing a list makes it eas­ier to fo­cus, and the sat­is­fac­tion you’ll get from cross­ing things off will be a great mo­ti­va­tor, too. The trick to cre­at­ing a to- do list that makes you more pro­duc­tive is to limit the num­ber of core tasks that you add to it – re­strict­ing your­self to, say, six or seven things, means you’ll be forced to pri­ori­tise when you want to add a new task to the list. You could even write a ‘not to- do’ list by ask­ing your­self, ‘ What can I post­pone? What can I elim­i­nate?’, ‘ Do I have to be the per­son to do this task, or can I del­e­gate?’

4. You reg­u­larly can­cel plans

Ac­cord­ing to a study done by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co- op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, South Africa came out as the fifth hard­est work­ing coun­try, with work­ers spend­ing an av­er­age of 43,3 hours per week on the job. Too much over­time can re­sult in miss­ing out on fam­ily events, which will put you into ‘un­for­giv­able’ ter­ri­tory. Sched­ule fam­ily time, or even ex­er­cise, in ex­actly the same way you do im­por­tant meet­ings – lock it down in your di­ary and con­sider it a non-ne­go­tiable.

5. Your health suf­fers

Lack­ing sleep, eat­ing un­healthy in­stant food and not get­ting enough ex­er­cise can of­ten be by-prod­ucts of a poor work-life balance. Dead­lines are un­avoid­able, but if you of­ten feel obliged to stay late in the of­fice, try to limit your­self to just once or twice each week – and stick to it.

6. Caf­feine is your BFF

If you’re work­ing through lunch and sur­viv­ing on reg­u­lar top-ups of caf­feine, lis­ten up: top per­form­ers work for 52 min­utes, fol­lowed by a 17-minute break. Sched­ule reg­u­lar breaks in the day (take a walk around the car park, or grab some cof­fee at a café nearby) by us­ing a timer on your com­puter, and give your­self a breather.

7. You take work home

It’s a slip­pery slope when you swop chill time on the couch with an­swer­ing emails over week­ends. Leave work at work: tell your­self that you’re on your way home and that you’re leav­ing work stress at the of­fice – this ‘un­plug­ging’ rou­tine will help you to be more in the mo­ment when you do get home. Put your phone on si­lent and turn off your email no­ti­fi­ca­tions – un­less it’s a catas­tro­phe, it can wait un­til to­mor­row (or Mon­day!).

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