National Work-Life Balance Week, 2-6 October

NWLW-2017-LARGE-292x292It’s likely that many of us can say that there are times when we haven’t got our work-life balance quite right. Good work-life balance improves our health, relationships and workplaces, and the National Work-Life Balance Week, 2-6 October, reminds us to reflect on our lives.

The key signs of an unhealthy work-life balance are:

– unhappiness/unease about the amount of time you are spending at work

–  feeling that other areas of your life are being neglected

– health effects of working long hours e.g. stress, sleeplessness

– worrying about work outside of work

Suggestions of how to redress the balance:

– Work smart not long – this involves being very strict with your time and working to tight schedules to make the most of the working day.

– Create a corridor between work and home – leave work at work.  Write yourself a ‘To do’ list for the next day.  Melanie Allen, a life coach suggests using a stop-breathe technique; ‘take a slow breath and acknowledge that you have left.  If you can’t do that at the office door, when you’re getting a train or bus and the door closes, imagine that’s the end of your working day.  Or if you’re in the car, sit at the wheel for a short while before you start the engine’.  You may already create this corridor subconsciously by showering and changing your clothes when you get home from work for example, or making a trip to the gym once you leave the office – winding down from the work environment is important. Think carefully about syncing your work email to you mobile.  Is this absolutely necessary? The temptation to ‘just check’ your work emails may be too much on a device that you have for personal use.  If this is unavoidable, try to put a limit on when you will read and respond to work emails.

– Find your own balance/set your own rules – take personal responsibility for addressing your work-life balance.  Say when demands at work feel too much – how can your manager be aware of additional pressures and redress them if you don’t speak up?

– Take regular breaks at work – this is good practice anyway, especially for DSE users to alleviate musculoskeletal problems and rest the eyes.  A quick break can help to clear the mind and enable a refocus on the task at hand once the break is over.

– If you do need to bring work home, allocate a designated area to store and do it in, and then leave it there and shut the door on it.

– Be aware of the link between mental ill health and work related stress – reduce stress levels by exercising, devoting time to relaxation, maintaining friendships and keeping up with hobbies.  Don’t be tempted to sacrifice these things for work.

– Keep a careful eye on your working hours over a set period of time and also note the time you spend thinking or worrying about work.

– If you feel that your work is affecting your health or vice versa please ask your line manager for a referral to Occupational Health.

Further interesting information is available from the following sources:

Employee Assistance Programme
Equality and diversity
Occupational health
Working Families
Mindful Employer

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