Finding the work life balance in the UK

In a time when working remotely and flexibly is becoming more and more common, it’s vital that we continue to retain a healthy work-life balance. Michelle Elliott shares her top tips on how to achieve this.

In Britain, 69% of us believe that flexible working hours and remote working are essential to professional success, and 70% reject the notion that there is any correlation between working longer hours and getting ahead at work according to research by Crown Plaza.

different sized stones balanced on top of each other on grassSleep (72%), quality time with friends and family (42%) and regular exercise and healthy food (38%) form the top three factors which enable Brits to stay on top of their game.

In the 21st century, there is growing evidence of a seismic change in the way we think about success. Today, there is a growing movement towards people needing more than just accomplishments at work to feel truly successful – they also need to feel healthy and happy.

The hours and times people work have always been subject to change, but the pace of this change is now more rapid than ever because:

    • customers expect to have goods and services available outside traditional working hours
    • organisations want to match their business needs with the way their employees work
    • individuals want to achieve a better balance between work and home life.

So in this time of working remotely and flexibly, how do we achieve the happy and healthy people we need to be? Here are some tips to being smart with your life to find the right work life balance.

1. Build downtime into your schedule

When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge. If a date night with your spouse or a game with friends is on your calendar, you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don’t have to cancel. It’s worth planning ahead an activity with your family or friends, be proactive. Otherwise, time tends to get frittered away and the weekend may end without us spending quality time with those people that are important to us.

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy

“Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping,” says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.

Her advice: Take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them. You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. “We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realising it,” Stack says.

3. Rethink your errands

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands.

Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered? Offer a neighbours child down the street to mow your lawn? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don’t have to go to the post office? Even if you’re on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you’ll save will make it worth it. Stack also suggests trading services with friends. Offer to do tasks that you enjoy, or that you were planning to do anyway.

4. Get moving

It’s hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate. “Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert,” Brooks says. “And I’ve noticed that when I don’t exercise because I’m trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don’t feel as alert.”

5. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way

Don’t assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Brooks recommends setting realistic goals, like leaving the office earlier 1 night per week.

“Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you,” he says. “Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby of carpentry, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year.”

Even during a hectic day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries. “Take a bath, read a novel, go for a walk, or listen to music,” Stack says. “You have to make a little time for the things that ignite your joy.”

6. Take some time to learn, think and self-educate

Finding quality time for reflection of your thoughts in a quiet personal space is so important to clearing the mind and evaluating how you feel about topics, current affairs or affairs of the heart. Equally, spending some time developing yourself by taking an on-line course or attending a night class or reading a topical book, doing a professional qualification can be a great release and broaden the mind.

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