How to achieve the correct work-life balance

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 4 Apr 2019

Work-life balance

When it comes to your working life, it can sometimes be hard to say no and take some time out for yourself. Especially when work keeps piling up and a string of long days becomes inevitable. Everyone has times like this in their career, but it’s important to know when to say no. Too much all at once can have a significant effect on your health and even your ability to complete the work to your best ability. Make sure you are taking breaks, both long and short, and it’s vital to separate your work time from your personal life. Both aspects of your life should be highly prioritised, and it can take a bit of time and practice to get a schedule that works well for you.

Why is it beneficial for you to get a good balance?

Sometimes working a bit later than usual may be unavoidable. You can’t always help it if there are big projects and everyone is spending a little bit more time at work. However, it can be crucial to make sure this doesn’t become a long-term habit. It can be easy to get caught up in your job, especially if you enjoy it, which can lead you to spending less time than you should with the other people in your life. I cannot say that working too hard is a bad thing, it can of course, have great affects on your career. But working too hard all the time, can be very damaging. You can become worn out, this will end up having a bad effect on the work you do and may even cause some resentment towards your job. You need time at the end of the day to unwind and socialise with your friends and family, which means completely switching off work mode. If it becomes a normal thing to accidently ignore the people in your life, you will feel the strain and so will your loved ones. It’s essential to be happy, healthy and be able to unwind at the end of the day. There are a few things you can try to help you get the better balance you may need in your life.

Prioritise your time (Long-Term and Short-Term)

Make sure you are thinking ahead of time, rather than just going with the flow on the day. (Not always a bad thing) This can cause you to forget about things you may have already planned, as well as the days natural work flow. Making sure that you are planning for the day, keep lists, prioritise tasks where needed, and it will give you more organised days and weeks. It can be good to do the more difficult tasks in the morning, when you are more awake and then the easier tasks after lunch. In regard to the long term, make sure both personal and work plans are put into a diary of some sort. It can be easy to forget about major work events or something you planned with friends, especially when you may be tired. Eventually when it gets to it, you may just set the plans aside for a future time. Make sure this happens less, simply by planning in advance and prioritising your time well.

Have set work hours

Not having set hours can catch a lot of professionals out. You can get caught up in work and not even notice the time. But it’s very important to make sure you have a set time to come into work and a set time to leave, it will become a routine.  I’m not saying you cannot stay those 5 minutes extra to get a task done properly but try and leave on time to reduce some stress from the day. This means leaving work at the office as well, keep your emails off of your personal phone and don’t accept any calls after the designated time. You will see the huge effects this can have on your personal life.  

Learn to say no

It can feel hard to say no to your boss, but you should both understand that your job should not be your whole life and having boundaries will help with the balance you want. Just because technology has made it easier to access you out of office, doesn’t mean you should have to be available 24/7. You shouldn’t have to interrupt a meal because of a work call or be available on email all the time to answer any questions. Make sure the time you spend at work is for work tasks, the time at home is for you.  We’re all human, employers should understand your situation.

Be realistic

Make sure you are giving yourself realistic goals throughout the day. Don’t agree to a task that will take way more time than you have. By doing this you are eating into the time that you are meant to have for yourself. It’s good to push yourself but try not to put too much pressure on your shoulders, this could not only ruin the end of the day but can mean the work is not done to the best of your potential.

Take a break

You may think you give yourself enough breaks during the year, but according to a post published with stats from last year by The Guardian, more and more people are not taking their annual leave given to them by their employers. Many employees think that if they are taking time off work, they may leave them short-handed or they may be behind when they come back. Don’t feel like this, they shouldn’t penalise you for needing a break. It’s imperative to book time off, get yourself away from the work environment for more than just the weekend. Having plans will give you something to work towards as well, in some cases, helping to drive motivation. You need holiday time to sit back and relax a little, by relaxing your mind, you will refresh your concentration and allow yourself to work better when you come back to work. Your employer doesn’t have to make you take your holiday, so make sure you are doing it for your own benefit.

Finding the right work-life balance can be difficult, on either end of the scale. You should work during the set work hours but don’t be afraid to use your lunch break, by taking time away from your work activities you can take the time to eat a proper meal or have a walk. It’s important for you to turn away from work whilst you are at home as well. This can have positive effects on both your physical and mental state and will almost certainly help your personal relationships with friends and family. Make sure you are including everything you want to have in your life, don’t leave anything out because it may be inconvenient to your job.

Typically, engineers seem to benefit from their jobs and a vast majority enjoy their time spent at work. But it can be worth remembering that We should work to live, not live to work.