Do you live to work or work to live?
This has to be the golden question, okay so it’s no “what’s the meaning of life?” but I think it’s not far off. We all know we need to work, no one is going to pay your rent or bills and although everyone says “money can’t buy you happiness”, it can buy pretty much everything else.
How are you supposed to juggle a 9-5 job that stretches way past those contract hours as well as family commitments, a personal life and the most essential … 5 minutes to yourself once in a while? It is really an impossible mission to have the best of both worlds? If you had asked me this question even a year ago I would have told you to pick one. You can have a successful career or a great personal life, you couldn’t possibly be greedy enough to ask for both.
What a difference a day makes (or a year in this example) I have started to realise that I was being too pessimistic and in reality I could have a job I loved and succeed in whilst having an actual life I enjoyed.
I’ll be completely honest and say this didn’t happen over night and if you’re asking how to get a perfect work life balance, then chances are your scales are tipping far too much in the direction of work. (I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone having a problem with the other side of the coin, “I’d love it if my job forced me to work all hours of the day” said no one ever!)
How do you flick the switch and level out those scales? (slightly too tipped on the personal life wouldn’t be a bad option either.) Well these are the 3 stages to start with.
Set Boundaries and be Assertive
You might think you’re good at time management and organising your day but if you’re thinking why is there never enough hours in the day, I hate to break it to you, you’re not doing a great job!
You need to work smarter instead of harder and look to get your job completed in a reasonable time limit. If you’re employed until 5 pm, why are you feeling the need to work until 8 or 9 pm everyday. Yes, every job will occasionally ask you to do extra but don’t let any company take advantage of you and when you say you’re going to leave on time, put down the phone, turn off the laptop and go home.
You need to set work time and personal time and never let the two meet. That means no answering work calls during family dinners or checking company emails whilst having a chill evening at home.
Never Feel Guilty about You Time
This is the big one! When it comes to the people who are struggling to find the balance it’s usually because of that feeling of guilty. That feeling that means you don’t want to be the first one to leave the office and you want to be an employee that goes above and beyond but at the sake of everything else.
You can still do your job well and impress your boss without giving up your life so stop feeling guilty about not doing “extra” and when I say “extra” I mean the falling asleep with your laptop or working every weekend.
You Can Always Ask for Help
Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while so don’t feel bad about asking for support when you need it. Whatever the job role you’ll most likely experience peaks in workload, times where your normal duties increase. If you’re not able to cope with that increase don’t automatically assume you have to double your working hours, instead ask a work colleague if they can lead a hand or speak to your boss about the work load.
There is always more than one solution to your workload problems but the trouble is when you’re stressed and overworked you can’t see the easy answer.
Finding the perfect work life balance is definitely a journey and like everything I discuss a time consuming one. If you’re still struggling, my previous post The Search for The Perfect Work Life Balance gives you 10 tips to achieve this goal.