There's no denying that for most of us work is a really important and integral part of our lives. For full-time workers, work takes up around 40+ hours of every single week, and at the end of the day, it pays the bills that we need to survive.
However, because work is so important to so many of us, often it's easy to slip into habits that mean we're prioritising work over other aspects of our lives like our families, partners, friends or even simply time for ourselves. Plus, if it's not our personal drive holding us accountable to our workplaces outside of 'office hours', sometimes it's workplace expectations that chain us to the desk.
These feelings also have the tendency to worsen if you're in a workplace where you can work from home, and there's no real physical distinction between home and the office. We know it's really important to our happiness that we find balance; as explained by the CEO of Amplio Recruiting; "[a good work-life balance] has numerous positive effects, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being".
So how do you find that sweet spot of work-life balance when you've got a boss with high expectations, yo're putting pressure on yourself to work harder and the bottom line is you need your job and income to survive? Truthfully, it's a pretty tough balancing act! But here are a few tips you can actively use to make sure you're finding time to fit everything in and not become overwhelmed with work.
1. Put your health before your obligations to your job
Especially in New Zealand, there's a general 'she'll be right' attitude where even when we're feeling under the weather, we put on a brave face and head into work. Not only is this actually detrimental to your workmates if you're heading into the office and spreading a bug, but it's a poor decision for your health.
The first way to get that perfect work-life balance is to put your health first, even if that means taking a day off. In New Zealand, we're lucky that every employee is entitled by law to a minimum provision of five days paid sick leave a year after the first six months of continuous employment and an additional five days paid sick leave after each subsequent 12-month period. Our best advice? If you need to, take them.
Overworking actually prevents you from getting better and recovering, which in turn could mean more days off work down the road. But more than that, it also means you'll be taking more time away from the other elements of your life that are really important like your social circles. It's time for Kiwis to let go of the 'no worries' attitude and put their health first.
2. Take time off for a break, even if it's just a day to yourself
Work-life balance simply doesn't happen if you don't make use of your entitled four weeks of annual leave per year, and head into work every single day. Globally, it seems that we have a real problem taking time off, with 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days left over at the end of the year. We'd recommend making sure that you're booking in time off to relax and check-out from work mentally.
"The truth is, there is no nobility in not taking well-deserved time away from work; the benefits of taking a day off far outweigh the downsides" - Chancey, Business News Daily
Of course, we understand that not everyone has the luxury of being able to go on a fancy holiday overseas (especially given the current pandemic), so it's key to highlight here that 'time-off' doesn't just mean holidaying. Sometimes, a day to yourself at home without the pressures of work can give you just enough time to catch up on sleep, do the things you enjoy doing, catch up with a friend and let go of everyday stresses.
The Huffington Post notes that forward-thinking companies know that a day off for staff actually benefits the company. For example, Google has a policy to "enhance creativity by giving employees time off to pursue ideas of their own, regardless the outcome. Some of their most successful innovations have come out of that policy".
Taking time helps you and your company, so it's time to get rid of those noble notions that staying at work is the right thing to do.
3. Create a clear distinction between work and home
For all of you 'home office' workers out there, we're talking to you! But the same goes for everyone who finds themselves checking their emails on their phone when they get home for the day - it's time to draw a clear line if you want to achieve any kind of work life balance.
For those in a home office, it's always best where possible to set yourself up in a separate room or office from the rest of the house. That means when you enter your work space, that's work time, and when you finish up for the day, you create a physical barrier between work and home. Keeping a routine is also key for home-workers. If your working hours are 8.30am until 5pm, make sure that you're clocking in and out at the right time each day. It can be really easy to 'overwork' when you don't have to leave the office to beat traffic. You can even set an alarm if you have to! Just make sure you remember to clock out each day.
The other problem that modern day workers tend to face is the inability to 'stop working' due to technology. Most of us have our work emails connected to mobile phones, so we know when a client has sent through an after-hours email. This gets even worse if you're connected to your company's social media account, which means that your phone becomes a hub for any work-related notifications.
Don't be afraid to turn your push notifications off outside of work hours. This will mean that you're able to give your undivided attention to your family and friends while you're at home without work distractions, and in a similar way, you'll be giving your undivided attention to your clients and customers when you do open your inbox the next day.
4. You don't have to do everything, it's okay to ask for help
We mean this in both the work and home areas of your life, you really don't have to do every single job to perfection.
In the workplace (especially if you're a bit of a perfectionist) it's easy to become the reliable person that everyone comes to for help, or even to take on jobs because you know how to do them best. However often what's better than taking on absolutely everything possible and slowly burning out, is learning to say no and delegate. If you're already at full capacity and someone asks you to do a task, kindly decline where you can. If you're cramming in tasks left right and centre, it's unlikely that you're going to do the job to the best of your ability anyway, and your work time will inevitably seep into your home time.
However, we can also say the same for the home. It's not all on you to get everything done. If you have flatmates, family or a partner, don't be afraid to ask them for help with cooking and cleaning or any other household tasks if you're feeling stressed. Take the night off where you can. You'll find that you're a lot more relaxed and actually have time to do the things you really enjoy.
If you don't have people that you live with who can help you, the next best thing is to let go of perfectionism and accept that not everything has to be done and dusted at all times. If you need to let go of the housework for the evening and maybe buy a takeaway, that's okay! Work-life balance is all about making that time for ourselves - we deserve it.
If cleaning is making your home life feel like work, this might help
At Rug Doctor, we're all about maintaining a healthy home and a healthy lifestyle, and we know that cleaning can take up a lot of time that could be used on the things that really positively impact your mental health.
We're offering personalised cleaning guides that are tailored to your home size, lifestyle and problem cleaning areas so that you can get the job done quickly and efficiently, leaving more space for the things you love. They even come with a few tailored cleaning hacks to make the job easier! Jot down your information below and we'll send your tailored guide straight to your inbox.