The term ‘work-life balance’ can often seem like the chocolate you were promised as a kid if you behaved, but never actually ended up getting. When you are in a role that can include unsociable hours, client-facing requirements, busy seasons, and juggling multiple project deadlines – finding time for friends, family, hobbies and, importantly you, can be incredibly difficult. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with recent studies confirming that taking a different approach to work-life balance might be the answer.
Making work-life balance manageable
Taking a guilt-free outlook on work-life balance could be a recipe for satisfaction and success. It is not about having balance every single day, which is probably not possible. Achieving a balance that feels manageable over a sustained period is what matters. The problem starts when you judge yourself for not handling all of life’s challenges. There will always be days of early starts and late client dinners, but the balance either side of those days is how you can reduce your stress.
Capture little moments of time
Never seem to have enough time spare? Why not try embracing ‘micro-actions’ – activities that fit into part of your time that may seem small first of all but add up to multiple meaningful moments. For many of us, exercise is our salvation from work. You may not have time each day to fit in a 90 minute gym session when you are trying to fill a job, or working on a project roll out. But, you can exploit the small amount of time you do find and make it count. It is almost impossible not to make our health a priority when there is so much technology to keep us updated. Smart watches are a great way of keeping track, especially when it can draw your attention to how a ten, twenty minute walk here and there can really add up.
Implementing a change sometimes is the hardest step
Most professionals nowadays live in their diaries. Make a point of blocking out time in your schedule before and after meetings so you are not frantically running around. A career in recruitment demands a lot of thinking and planning which require boundaries in order for things to happen. The risk of not creating those boundaries is that the day gets away from you and a long list of uncompleted action points remains. This then adds pressure as you work to meet a pressing deadline and the quality of your work can be compromised.
Be strict on your boundaries
No matter how hectic your role is, the work schedule will die down when a project is completed, a placement is made or you are catching up on your paperwork. Take advantage of these quiet periods! Of course, a 6pm meeting may pop up once in a while, but give yourself the chance to leave on time once or twice a week. Acknowledging healthy boundaries for yourself, will give you the best state of mind when it gets busy again.
Better balance means increased productivity. Exercise is the perfect example of an activity that creates a mental boundary allowing you to switch off from work and clear your head. For others, it may be spending time with your kids, reading a book or watching a TV series you have been putting off. By building in realistic boundaries and accepting that it will not always go according to plan, this can help you stay connected to what truly drives you.
It's OK to say no
We are all guilty of using up precious time doing things that do not contribute to a productive day. Perhaps 30 minutes a day scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn without even thinking about why? Unfortunately a common habit when we are stressed or struggling to handle a busy workload, is gravitating towards things that we enjoy or make us ‘feel’ busy when the more productive route would be to focus on the real priorities, however hard or tedious they may be.
We often strive to achieve a work-life balance that can be unrealistic. Don’t beat yourself up for not achieving what you think should be the perfect balance though, because everyone’s life is different and can be successful in its own way.