Finding work-life balance is very much still a journey of discovery for me. Since becoming a mum six years ago, I’ve had the sometimes very difficult task of balancing being a working mum, wife, researcher, writer and generally trying to fit all the pieces of our lives together in some form of organised way. Sometimes the pieces fit together nicely and sometimes I feel like I’m flailing around in the dark trying to find a pause button.
I know I’m not alone. Many of us struggle to find a balance between work and family life and, somewhere in between, trying to find some time for our own rest and relaxation. I am no expert at this (you should see my to-do list!) but I have learnt some coping strategies and techniques that work for me, so I wanted to share my top 10 tips in the hope that it might help others:
- Make time for you
This list is in no particular order, but for me this is one of the most important. It’s so easy to put other peoples’ needs in front of our own. I was very guilty of this but realised that not getting time to myself just left me tired, exhausted and grumpy. We all need a break to recharge our batteries so I now schedule some ‘me time’ on a regular basis. Whether it’s a relaxing massage, shopping or reading a good book, this time-out to escape and focus on me has made such a difference to my mental well-being and energy levels.
As well as keeping fit, exercise is well-known for boosting mood. I also find it helps with my productivity. When it all gets too much for me, a good run is guaranteed to make me feel better. I feel the stresses and strains drifting away and come back energised and ready to face the world again.
- Switch off the phone and email
While technology is great for helping us with our work, it can also add to the feeling of being always connected to work. I joke that the worse thing I did was to get my emails sent to my phone. When I hear the email notification ping, I find it so hard not to check my phone. Whenever I can, I switch off my work phone when I’ve finished my working day.
- Have a separate work and personal phone
If you’re anything like me, then it’s easy to feel jittery without a mobile phone in close proximity (probably a sign I need a technology detox!). I found having separate work and personal mobile phones made a huge change to my work-life balance. I can switch off my work phone when I’m out of office hours, days off and at the weekend and focus on the other areas of my life without distraction.
- Switch off from work – mentally and physically
Since working from home, I found it even harder to switch off from work. When I worked in an office, the drive home allowed me time to unwind and get out of work mode. At home it’s very different as I’m surrounded by reminders of work constantly. I now make sure I have set working hours and switch off my laptop and work phone at the end of my working day. This is the one I find the hardest to be honest, but I am getting better at it!
- Find time for family fun
All work and no play is definitely the route to work-life unbalance. If we spend all our time working or thinking about work, then it’s going to consume us. Everyone needs something to look forward to and fun in their lives. I make sure I plan in fun for me and the family so that we all have something to look forward to and spend some quality time together.
I’m a big fan of mindfulness. It’s a recent discovery for me but I wish I’d found it sooner! Taking time out of each day, for even as little as 10 minutes, makes such a huge difference to my stress levels and allows me to completely switch off from everything. Finding something that relaxes you and making time for that daily is a great way to manage work-life balance and to find time away from the everyday stresses we all face.
This is particularly important for me as I work from home. It’s easy to feel isolated from the outside world when I’m locked away in my home office. But it’s also important to feel connected to people generally. I have to work hard at not letting work take over my life, and making time to see friends is a great way to get some balance in my life and to have fun.
- Find your passion
My passion is writing. I started this blog as a way of fitting more writing into my life. What I hadn’t realised was that blogging would have such an enormous impact on my own work-life balance (I write about this in a previous post ‘Why blogging helps with my own work-life balance’). Finding something you truly love and making time to invest in your passions outside of work really helps to focus on something for you. I find is important for my own work-life balance.
- Keep reassessing your own work-life balance
It’s so easy to find ourselves in a routine of work, chores and daily grind. Whenever I start feeling stressed or overwhelmed by work or life in general, I try to take a step back and look at my work-life balance. All too often these feelings can be addressed by the tips above. I just have to keep reminding myself to make time for them!
I know I have more to learn and will keep striving to find ways to ensure I have a great work-life balance that works for my family as well as me. But in the meantime, I’ll keep trying to maintain and restore the balance the best way I can.
I’d love to hear how you manage work-life balance and any tips you can share!