Finding balance in your work-life


​Work-life balance was a hot topic pre-2020, and everyone wanted to know how to get a good work-life balance for themselves. After the pandemic begun, companies were forced to adapt to work-from-home structures that improved work-life balance for many people, making it the new norm.

Now, there is a new struggle surrounding work-life balance. Some work-from-home struggles include:

  • Working after hours (overtime) from home because it’s easy to do and hard to switch off

  • Receiving or sending emails after work hours or on weekends, allowing work to encroach on non-work hours

  • Not enough simple communication (such as instant chats), too many meetings to keep up ‘face-time’

  • Family time and work time beginning to blend

  • Time management issues with busier workloads

Overall, the common theme is that the line between work and ‘life’ has gotten so thin that sometimes it can be hard to switch between the two and we can fail to set boundaries, letting work take over our lives. Here are our tips on how to bring work-life balance back into your life.

Make a schedule that works for you

The idea of work-life balance is that it’s more flexible than the traditional 9-5 at the office. So, make a new work routine for yourself and try to stick to it as much as you can during the week. For example, you may need to start after 8:30am when you’ve dropped the kids at school, or if that isn’t your responsibility, you can start earlier, and finish earlier to pick them up! Whether you do or don’t have kids, you can make a schedule that works for you and how you work best, considering things like whether you’re a morning or night person or whether you prefer short or long breaks.

It can be handy to put your ‘flexible’ office hours in a signature or automatic reply to help people understand when they can expect to hear back from you, especially when your hours differ a lot from other people’s regular hours. This is also helpful in setting boundaries which we will discuss in another point.

Get comfortable with flexibility

More on that, you should become comfortable with flexibility and take advantage of work-from-home life. You can start by setting home related tasks throughout your day alongside work-related tasks on your personal to-do list. For example, say you need to complete a work task – make note that after that item is ticked off the list, you can do a load of washing, then you can take a lunch break, then you can start on the next work-related task. It is especially helpful to do this with chore type home duties that can help you continue to feel productive. By inserting these small home tasks in your day, you will have more time with family and for leisure when it’s time to officially sign off for the day or week.

Understand outcome > input

Don’t let the old ideas creep back in such as: ‘oh they might not think I’m working hard enough if they can’t see me working 9-5,’ or ‘they’re going to think I’m slacking if I don’t respond straight away.’ Remember that most importantly it is about adding value and producing work, NOT, how you do that. If you can produce quality work, or honest results within a fair time frame, and do what you say you will do, it shouldn’t concern others how you got there. We all work differently, which is something to embrace with flexible work.

Get acquainted with ‘do not disturb’

In those ‘off’ hours, don’t be afraid to put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ or turn off notifications for certain apps such as your email. This can help you keep your mind off work and keep you more in the present moment. There is nothing worse than receiving an email after hours that you know you’ll have to deal with the next workday – it can cause stress and bring you right back into a work headspace. We are big fans of ‘do not disturb!’

Make a personal priority list to focus on

If there are some home life items you’ve been neglecting, make sure to add these are priorities on your to-do lists. Whether it be about health or more quality time with friends and family, add it into your front of mind. Make it a priority to work towards, just like any other task. This can help you remember to create boundaries with yourself and to switch off and move focus to important personal goals and needs.

Unlearn the ‘always online’ mentality

In a largely digital world, we are all connected, all the time! It’s too much. Many of us are expected to respond straight away because ‘you’re on your phone all the time’ anyway. Whether you are online all the time or not, it does not always mean you are available to respond immediately. Often times, people can create stories about why people aren’t responding, or we can feel massively guilty for not being prompt or having the energy to properly reply. What we truly have to understand is that just because we can all be online at the same time; does not mean we are all running on the same schedule or at the same capacity at the same time too. It can be helpful to have this conversation with colleagues to remind each other that it’s okay to respond when you can and not straight away, as long as you respond at some point within a respectful time frame (relevant to your work hours).

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries around your work schedule, your response times, your private life, your home duties, and the balance you have built, are all important and helpful things to consider. Once you have some balance in place, it can be helpful to communicate this with other people you work with. It can be done in conversation about a project, for example, ‘I can do this for you but given my work schedule and current work load a realistic time frame would be by next Friday,’ is one way to create realistic expectations and help others understand your workload and schedule. Or it can be as simple as mentioning your work hours or days in an automatic reply (as mentioned earlier). You can also have formal (or casual) conversations with people you work with frequently to let them know when they can expect to hear from you if not in normal work hours.

It's important for leaders to ‘lead by example’ and ensure colleagues don’t feel pressured to respond right away, or work after hours, even if emails are sent during those times (those times may work best for other people, but not for us.) Communication is really important in maintaining a nice work-life balance for all!

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