find your work-life balance
Find out how to get things back in sync...
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!).