You’ve probably been told countless times that both your work life and personal wellbeing is important. Whether you work from home or a workspace your employer provides, sometimes there can be a very thin line between work and life and it can be very easy to cross. There will probably be times in your career when you are expected to put in a bit of extra time here and here, but there does come a time when this may feel like they are asking too much from you.
There are times when we need to know how to say no to our employer, what to do when you feel like work is becoming slightly overbearing and be sure to try and steer clear of burnout. These are all things you are likely to have heard of, but how do you start to implement them in your everyday life?
Make sure you are making time for yourself
When work responsibilities start to increase, simply accepting and working through it can feel like the easiest option. You might think ‘simply get it done and then you can focus on you’ - but when does this become a frequent and expected part of your workday? If you keep pushing through extra work, even if you’re tired and feeling burnout, then it’s likely you’ll to start feeling negatively towards your job. It’s important that you give it your best but when your work hours are done, you don’t owe your employer anything. Despite what they may try and make you think.
You are entitled to your own time. If the time is unpaid, it’s your time. It can feel easier to give in and get the work done to save you extra hassle tomorrow but take a moment to think about how this is going to make you feel in the long term. Will your employer keep thinking it’s okay to add extra hours and work to your day? - this is something that a lot of people can see start to happen.
So, when you do get the chance, make sure you are taking and using your personal time. This means not doing work and using it for whatever you feel necessary. Whether it be other life responsibilities or relaxing in the evenings, your time is there to help you unwind and reflect on the day. Don’t use this time trying to squeeze in extra work. This is often the first step to feeling overworked and neglected by your employer.
Work boundaries may be different for each individual. It depends on the hours you do, what you’re willing to do outside of work hours and other priorities in your life that are just as important, if not more important than your job. We all have limits so think about what yours are and if you find yourself bending your own rules for your job, it might be time to have a conversation with your line manager.
If you work 9-5, you should only be expected to answer work calls and emails within that time frame. For some people, it has started to become the norm to answer work calls in personal time and be present or ‘online’ even when you’ve finished work. Try and make sure you don’t do this, unless you really want to work in this way. There are instances where this may not be helped but try to focus on non-work-related things when you are out of office.
What about your job is causing negative emotions?
If anything in particular, what is making you feel bad at work? Is it the way a colleague treats you, is it the hours, the workload or something else? If it can be helped or prevented, it’s worth bringing up and discussing your problems with someone in your workplace. They might be able to help more than you originally thought.
If it’s something that’s more personal, it can also be a good idea to talk to someone about this too. Even if it feels difficult to talk about. Not every problem at work is about work. But sometimes, trying to focus on work when you have so much else on your mind can be just as tiring. If you feel like you are able to talk about it and your employer might be able to assist in some way, it’s a good idea to share. There are lots of ways employers can help such as personal days, mental health days, extended leave, and even medical help. Don’t suffer in silence.
Is your employer taking care of you?
The things you expect from an employer are again, different to each individual. However, certain benefits and promises are usually discussed in interviews and written in your contract. So, if you feel like you are falling behind at work because of things like lack of training, poor hours, overtime and simple office necessities, then it’s crucial that you raise this as a concern with your line manager. There are some things that employers need to provide for you and your colleagues. Such as facilities that make you feel safe, hygienic stations for you to use the bathroom and have a drink and a warm environment for you to carry out your work.
Things like this can also depend on whether you work in a workplace, from home or on a site, but your employer should do what they can to help you be comfortable. How you feel at work can impact the work you create, so be sure to ask for the things you are entitled to.
Is there someone at work that makes you uncomfortable?
The same point as above, when you are at work your employer is there to make sure you feel happy and safe in that environment. It’s not always the workspace that may be causing the problems. If you find that there’s someone you work with, internally or externally, that is making your day-to-day work life harder than it should be, speak up. If this is the case, they may not deserve to be there, and you deserve the respect of the employer to help fix this problem. It might not just be you feeling this way either. So, for whatever reason, make sure you are comfortable. Working around people that stir negative or anxious emotions can really affect your mental health.
Feeling like you can say no
It can feel really difficult to say no to your boss but can be really draining if you feel like you’re being pushed to do more than you can handle. Saying no at work is okay, it’s as simple as that. We all have our limits and sometimes working too many hours or taking on that one extra task is going to push us over the edge. 8 hours a day is a long period of time, so who blames you for wanting to take a break and do something else. You can love your job and still feel stressed and overworked at the same time.
If you are feeling stretched it can lead to feelings of stress, tiredness and sometimes anxiety. It may lead you feeling agitated and find it harder to concentrate on your work. This is another thing to add to your list of responsibilities and it’s just not needed. You can say no. Tell them you’re too busy and you don’t have the time or say you don’t have that certain skill. This should tell the employer that they need more resources, or they should train you. It’s never your fault and it’s definitely not on you to always say yes to more work or extra hours.
Take care of yourself
Being mindful of what your mind and body can handle can be very important. We all have different capacities and when we need a break, it’s as simple as taking one. You need to give your body time to recharge and reset. Doing the things we love, besides work, can really help us be better professionals. Seeing friends and family, doing a hobby, and keeping fit are all prime examples of taking care of yourself.
You are entitled to this. Treat yourself with kindness and give yourself that time.
Workplace wellbeing happens both in the office and at home. It’s important to know what the employer should be providing you with in the workplace, whether that be the right facilities, a happy environment, and the right resource in your team to be able to fulfil your work requirements. One person cannot do everything, so try and steer clear from this mentality. Give yourself a comfortable environment at work and at home and hopefully you can feel ready for the workday.
But also, make sure you are treating yourself with kindness and be gentle when you need a break. Take the time you need. You have the right to do whatever makes you happy and comfortable. Good wellbeing in the workplace is the first step to having a successful team. If your employer doesn’t realise that it might be time to find a job that offers you what you deserve.