At some point in your career, you may find that you're spending more daylight hours at the office and when you get home, you're still attached to work via a technological umbilical cord – checking emails and completing tasks on your laptop or smart device. In our "always-on" work culture, the occasional late night at the office or 18-hour work day can risk becoming a habit. Work might have a way of creeping into your evenings and spilling into family time over weekends. This needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand – so here are some crucial tips to help you maintain a healthy work/life balance.
1. Know your priorities
When you're young and starting out in your career, you're likely to dive head-first into your new job and give it 150% of your time, focus, and effort, because you're passionate about your work and your position in the industry and you want to get ahead. However, maintaining this momentum in later years could prove to be tricky, especially when there are other priorities in your life – be it your spouse and children, community commitments, or developing hobbies with friends. As you get older and gain more experience, your priorities will change, so it's important for you to recognise this and to manage your time to reflect what's important in your life.
2. Communicate your priorities with your manager and/or colleagues
If it's important for you to sit down to dinner with your family at 18:00 (or collect your children from school, or attend orchestral practice, or go to soccer training), then you need to leave work at consistent times every day to meet those commitments. Don't just assume that your colleagues know why you're out the door at 17:00 sharp every day – tell them that your family time/non-work commitment is your priority at that time of day. If your manager requires you to put in some extra hours for a once-off project, negotiate to fulfil that responsibility before work instead of in the evenings.
3. Stick to your guns
Once you've put a firm line between your work time and your family time, you need to respect that boundary and commit to drawing the line when you said you would. If you have committed to leaving the office at 17:00 and your colleagues and clients can see that you're still checking emails at 17:48, how can you expect them to respect your boundaries when you don't? In the beginning it will be difficult to switch off, especially if you love your job and enjoy the work that you do, but these habits need to be built if you want to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
4. Focus on being productive at work
On your list of tasks to do at work, everything may appear to be the top priority, so it's up to you to prioritise your tasks and then to get them done in order of most important to least important. This is a great strategy to increase your productivity. How it works is like this: once you've got the most important, most difficult tasks out of the way early in the day, doing the subsequent tasks will feel a lot easier. If, however, you do the least important tasks first and work up to the priority tasks, your day will feel as though it's getting gradually more difficult, which could lead to procrastination and a waste of time. Also make sure that the tasks and goals you're spending your time on are having a positive impact on the business – if they're not, should you really be doing them? Being productive is key during your work hours so that when you switch off from work, you really are finished for the day – there are no loose ends nagging in the back of your mind and detracting from the after-hours activities and people you should be focused on.
Every job in every industry will have high demands of the people in those positions, so it's up to you to set your own precedent early to build and maintain your work/life balance. What's your approach?
Communicate Recruitment is a recruitment agency with specialist consultants that will assist you in finding the right new job to accommodate all your responsibilities. Our consultants specialise in placing suitable candidates at top employers in the Finance, IT, Engineering and Supply Chain or Freight industries. Check out our vacancy page and apply now!