Hey chica’s – did you have to heave your butt into work today? Were you super tired and feeling unfulfilled and overworked? When was the last time you did something that made you happy?
If the answer is ‘the weekend’ then maybe your work/life balance is a little squiffy.
We don’t live to work. Period.
I have only ever worked in places that totally respect my work/life balance (apart from that awful spell waitresing where I was treated pretty darn badly, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). But I do hear these horrendous tales from friends and colleague about places they’ve worked where they’re expected to go beyond the call of duty:-
‘Although I was only contracted to work until 5, it was frowned upon to leave the office before 6’
‘I needed to be contactable at times – I would get emails/texts/whatsapp messages from work at unsociable hours with requests’
I find stories like this pretty baffling.
Recently I’ve become super aware of this balance and I’ve been making a real conscious effort to get it right. I think even just noticing that something is off kiln is a really great step to finding contentment in everything that you’re doing, work included.
If you’re life is all work, work, work – then of course you’re gonna learn to begrudge it a little.
If you’re feeling like your work/life balance needs a little refresh, here’s my top tips to get things back on track:
1.Leave work at work. It’s a no brainer, right?! But if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the office then leaving it behind can be really flippin’ difficult. Here’s my advice; Twenty minutes before you’re due to leave, write a to-do-list for the following day of things you want to complete. Make sure it’s achievable. Write all that brain fuzz down on paper and then switch off from the world of work. Walk out and take a big ol’ breath of fresh air. Oh and leave on time, as a general rule.
2.And if you can’t leave it behind, then talk through any work woes with a close partner/friend/family member and then close the subject. Sometimes, when I have a problem to solve at work, it sits at the back of my mind and I can’t relax until I’ve found a solution. This is usually when Max will take me out for pizza, we’ll mull it over with a glass of vino in a relaxed environment, and talk it out. Usually the answer is there all along. And then (this is the most important part) I let it go and enjoy myself. I get that sometimes it’s tricky to leave work at work, so this is my advice for those days when you just cannot get away from that niggling problem.
3.Put a limit on checking those emails. We’re all guilty (Max are I are like the worst offenders – ‘what you doing babe?’ ‘Oh I just need to send a quick email’). Technology is so readily available at our finger tips these days that checking emails has almost become habitual, along with scrolling through Instagram and watching silly videos of animals doing funny stuff on FB (jks, they are totally worth while). Whoever invented the Outlook app shattered hours worth of time focusing on our lives outside of work. My advice? Take a technology detox and shut your phones and ipads away in the evening. Spend your time outside of work focusing on yourself & doing things that make you insanely happy (like making pancakes with your other half or walking your dog or getting your hair dun good).
4.Ensure that you take any Time Off In Lieu back. I am incredibly lucky that the two places I have worked have been cool (in fact, downright freakin’ ace) with Time Off In Lieu. Good ol’ TOIL. The thing that makes my life varied and flexible. If you have standard hours then you won’t understand the joy of TOIL. But if you do work outside of normal hours, then it’s so incredz important to take that time back. Unless it states anywhere in your contract that this is not permitted, then you are totally entitled to that time.
5.Write down an equal amount of goals you want to achieve in both work and life. Sometimes we can be so focused on getting somewhere in our careers that we forget entirely to fulfill other areas of our life. If you really want to ensure that you have just the right amount of work/life balance, then set some goals for both areas. Okay, so you might wanna hit a particular target at work but what about that skill or hobby you’ve always wanted to learn or try?
6.Stop introducing yourself as, for example, ‘Jade that works at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’. And start introducing yourself as, for example, ‘Jade that writes and enjoys going to the theatre’ – see the difference? Don’t get me wrong, my career has always been and always will mean an awful lot to me – I’m proud of what I do. But sometimes I think people let work define them. When someone asks that generic standard question – ‘so what do you do?’ – think about allllllll the different things you do that don’t include work. I write. I read. I like to walk dogs and go to the gym. I bloody love porn-star martinis on the weekend with my pals. Oh yeah, I also organise events and shizzle but there’s also a lot more to me than that.
7.Stop looking at Monday-Friday as ‘work time’ and Saturday-Sunday as ‘play time’. The sooner you shift your perspective on this, the sooner you’ll find your weekdays less ‘dull’ and your life more balanced. Make use of all your time around work – see point 11 which is kinda related.
8.Allocate downtime into your schedule. You know how you block out time in your work diary for meetings and projects? All the little boxes that you colour code in your outlook calendar (um, well I do anyway. Love a colour code system, me). Well anyway I’ve given ‘downtime’ it’s very own colour and started blocking out time in my diary where I’ll do something that makes me feel fulfilled and happy. If it’s scheduled in my Outlook calendar then bloody ‘ell it’s happening.
9.Learn to work smart. Instead of working stupidly long hours and feeling like you’re not getting enough done, learn to work smarter. And what I mean by that is to work more efficiently. Set achievable goals at the beginning of each week and work through them with great effect. Get the job done in a super timely fashion without scrimping on the quality of work. That way, leaving ‘work at work’ is far easier at the end of each day.
10.Incorporate exercise into your daily work routine for your own well-being. Oh my gosh so important. I like to hibernate at my desk during lunch hours (because I’m a lazy so & so). But at my new job, it’s really encouraged to get up and take some exercise. We even have a lunchtime running club which I haven’t quite geared myself up to join yet, but it’s on my list of things to do. But fo’ sho’ you’ll feel far more productive and refreshed by working in some exercise to your schedule. Oh and get up and stretch, all day every day.
11.Do one thing every day that makes you happy. I know it sounds really cliche and silly and like ‘what a totally wanky blogger thing to say‘ but in all seriousness – how many days pass by where all you’ve done is gone to work, gone home and gone to bed (and not enjoyed one bit of it)? Learn to do one thing a day that you will look forward to – visit someplace fun on your commute home like a talk or exhibition, cook something new for dinner, watch a new film in the evening, go for a walk to explore a new area around your work at lunchtime. Do something fulfilling, something that makes you happy and gives your life purpose, other than sitting in front of a computer.
And that is my Wednesday Wisdom. I hope you’ve found it an incy wincy bit useful and insightful.
Basically, girl boss it in all areas of your life. (Or y’know, man boss, because I’m not 100% sure of my gender split of readership lols).
Happy Wednesday. I hope it’s not too humpy and if it is, figure out why & fix it.