Getting the Work-Life Balance Right

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The business world is full of pressure and many employees develop symptoms of stress at some stage in their career. With big deadlines to meet and insecurities over their long-term futures within struggling businesses it’s easy to see why, but the modern technologies have also helped to pile the stress on because employers – especially those implementing bring your own device (BYOD) policies – now seem to expect their staff to work 24-hours a day.

clip_image002This means that family time is compromised and instead they’re sitting down at the dining table, not to eat their family meal, but to keep working on the project that’s due imminently. Laptops have meant that people can work from mobile locations, and they’ve been around for some time now with many choosing to own one over a traditional desktop PC, but smartphones such as the BlackBerry and tablets like the iPad are more recent introductions to the market and increasing numbers of businesses are bringing them into the workplace on a full-time basis as standard equipment or in the form of BYOD.

The issue around using your own device in the workplace is that you also take it home with you, filled with everything you need for work such as contact names, numbers and email addresses, and people are having their work emails pushed to their mobile devices and end up answering the urgent emails or even working on their project when they’d normally be sitting down listening to their children read or out having a relaxing family meal.

Getting the work-life balance right isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that is essential to the long-term health of the employee so that they can get away from the stresses of working life, and also to spend some time with their families, and on themselves. We spend so much of our adult lives working that it’s almost vital that we’re able to hit the off switch occasionally and just forget about what’s going on in the office or factory.

In order to get your work-life balance right, you need to do a number of things. There’s no quick fix strategy, but implementing a series of ‘rules’ will certainly help. One of which should be to learn to create space for yourself, away from anything that connects you to work, if only for a few hours. At work, when you’re being paid to be there and do your job, you need to give it your full attention, and the same should be true when you’re at home. Put your laptop, tablet and smartphone away for a while – especially if you use the same device for work – so that you can dedicate yourself to the things that matter to you most, like your family and the household chores.

Also, learn to say no. Sometimes our employers ask us to do things at home, sending out an email saying something along the lines of “would you mind just finishing this off for tomorrow morning” as if you’ve got nothing better to do. Sometimes, it is a particularly important piece of work and this is an understandable request, but at other times you have your own priorities, such as a child’s football match or another commitment and you just have to say “sorry, but no, I’m busy with…” You could always reach a compromise and go in early the next day to get it done.

A final suggestion would be to organize your life. There will be some days in the week where you have your own plans and priorities, and others where you have nothing on. Rather than just taking each day as it comes, adapting accordingly, organize your life so that you know there are certain days where you can work from home in the evenings, and days when you can’t and need to give your attention to something or someone else. You don’t have to work 24/7, you need to switch off for your own sanity!

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