Leaving work at work can be easier said than done. However, knowing where work ends and your personal time begins is key to creating a rewarding and fulfilling work-life balance.
They say you should ‘work hard and play hard’ – creating a work-life balance will ensure that both your professional life and downtime can be as happy and satisfying as possible. Personally, when I’m not working, I like nothing more than filling my free time with travelling, keeping active and trying new experiences.
Stanford University recently published a study, the results of which showed that working more than 50 hours a week has a significant and detrimental effect on productivity. It’s great to be passionate about your work, but don’t let it suffer by working round the clock. If you work hard, you deserve to reap the benefits and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
It’s time to embrace your precious free time, these tips will help you make the most of it:
Out of office
In today’s world, technology has become something we all depend upon and it’s easier than ever to stay in contact. However, when it comes to your work phone and laptop, just because they can leave the office with you, doesn’t mean you should spend your evenings, weekends and days off answering calls and emails. If you do, there is no way you can just relax and enjoy your time.
Checking your messages, and making yourself constantly available for work calls means that you can’t detach from your work life and sometimes separation is good; after all, distance makes the heart grow fonder! If possible, set an ‘out of office’ response for your emails and turn off your phone. In some jobs this just isn’t feasible, so make sure you only check your correspondence during allotted time periods, the rest of the time is for you.
After long days at work, it’s tempting to while your spare time away in front of the television. However, finding an activity to take part in can boost your mood and help you to relax. For example, exercising can relieve stress, while indulging your hobbies can help you wind down and learn new things.
Even something as simple as making sure you spend quality time with friends and family is not only valuable but can do wonders for your mood, so don’t underestimate the importance of this. That being said, don’t forget to have some ‘me-time’, the benefits of which can be just as rewarding.
Plan ahead – making exciting plans for the weekend gives you something to look forward to, meaning you will stay motivated throughout the week. When the weekend comes, you can have fun and let off some steam!
Don’t save your chores until the weekend
Knowing that you have an endless mountain of laundry or a whole house to clean can really suck the fun out of your weekend. So why save them up?
Gradually working through your household tasks during the week means that the weekend is all yours to do… well, whatever you want! (plus, keeping busy in the house after work will act as a distraction; you’ll be much less likely to check your inbox if you’re busy scrubbing and polishing.)
Avoid long lie-ins and naps
Your body has its own daily rhythm and it is much happier with a sleep routine. No matter how tiring your week was, using your free time to catch up on sleep can be surprisingly counter-productive. Long lie-ins or naps can actually disturb your sleep patterns, meaning that overall you could end up feeling more tired and groggy all week. Monday morning will also be a shock to the system if you spend the weekend ignoring your alarm clock.
If you feel over-tired or like you’re not getting enough sleep, then it may be best to try amending the time you go to bed at night to make sure you get those golden 8 hours.
Plan and reflect
While it’s best to focus on your personal life when you’re not at work, it can sometimes be beneficial to take some time, perhaps at the end of the weekend, to plan and reflect on your professional life.
With a fresh week ahead and a much more relaxed mind, you may be able to see things much more clearly. Maybe spend half an hour on Sunday evening thinking about how you can improve your performance and how to approach your work week. This is also a great opportunity to make a rough plan for your workload, so you feel prepared and ready to tackle it come Monday morning.
About the Author
Agnes Butterworth is CEO of Bridgewater Resources UK who provide tailored recruitment solutions to large businesses across the UK. The Bridgewater website has lots of opportunities for both career-minded graduates and established professionals.