How to get a better work/life balance

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Do you work too hard? Or does your boss expect you to put in extra time when you can’t or don’t want to? Or do you work for yourself and find it hard to switch off? If you want to know how to get a better work/life balance – follow these tips:

1. Learn to say no

Some bosses understand that their staff will want to have a life outside work and that you’re not ‘on call’ 24/7, but others just don’t get that. If you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do or don’t think you should be asked to do, say no.

SAVVY TIP: Some people find it very hard to say no. If it’s a word that you’re not used to saying, practice how you will say no (it sounds bonkers but it can be useful). Rehearse a phrase that you’re comfortable with. In moments of stress it can be very hard to think on your feet so if you know how to say no before you have to do it, it can take some of the pressure off.

2. Switch off automatic email update on your phone

I love the fact that I’m much more connected to friends and family through technology, but I do find it much harder to switch off from work emails. I have my mobile phone with me pretty much all the time, but I don’t let emails come in automatically. Instead, I only get new emails when I check them. It has made such a difference! If people want to get hold of me urgently, they can call or text me.

3. Don’t check your emails in the evening or at weekends

If you’re a senior manager or if you’re running your business, this may be difficult if not impossible to do. But I do believe that we all function better if we’re not constantly thinking about work. Decide when you’ll check your emails for the last time and stick to it.

4. Don’t join in the presenteeism competition

Some workplaces have a very strong presenteeism culture. You know what I mean.. no-one wants to be the first one to leave in the evening and most people working there do extra hours. The problem is that once you get into this kind of competitive behaviour, there’s only one way it can end. So, unless you want to live at work, don’t join in.

SAVVY TIP: This can be much easier said than done. If your boss is approachable, explain what you’re doing and why. If he or she isn’t and the fact you won’t do unpaid overtime is an issue, it may be time to look for another job.

5. Be disciplined if you work for yourself

If you’re starting your own business, you probably have to work hard and put in long hours. So it’s unrealistic to say you should only work 9 to 5. But, once the business is established, it’s important to try and claim back some time for yourself if you can. If you work at home it can be harder to separate work from your personal life.

SAVVY TIP: I find it very hard to switch off from work at the weekend (and it doesn’t help that I work every Saturday on a radio show anyway!). However, I have discovered that it’s much easier if I decide at the start of a Sunday that I won’t go into my office and I won’t check my emails. I also find it easier to switch off if I’m away from home, so I try and get out for the day or go away for the weekend.

Related articles:

The gender pay gap – what is it and what’s changing?

Maternity rights at work; what are your pregnancy rights at work?

Employee share schemes – owning shares through your workplace

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