Work life balance isn’t just for one week

The 2nd to 6th October is National Work Life Week and the reminder we need that all work and no play doesn’t make for a happy life.

Working Families, the UK’s work life balance charity, and sister organisation Family Friendly Working Scotland are behind this thought provoking campaign. Together they have been supporting family friendly workplaces for nearly 40 years with aim of helping people find the balance that can sometimes feel impossible to strike.

If, like me, you are self-employed you might be rolling your eyes given your growing to do list and endless meetings between now and Christmas (is it too soon to mention this?).

The reality is, when the work is there and the pressure is on, the temptation to check emails in evenings and do a little extra writing at the weekend can be too hard to resist.

I have some quick tips to help you get grips with a healthy work balance and these include:

Get up early. There is nothing worse than every morning being a mad rush, so set your alarm ten minutes early, don’t press snooze and give yourself time to wake up and embrace the day rather than spending it chasing your tail.

Book slots in your calendar when you put your phone on silent turn off from emails and get on with your ‘real’ work.

Work in blocks of 15 minutes you’ll find that you get more done than you think.

Go to meetings but only if they really are needed. Emails can sometimes do the job and Skype is a great alternative to face to face encounters.

Don’t say yes to everything. Prioritise your workload and if something unexpected drops on your desk, consider what you have already committed to completing before agreeing to go ahead and do even more.

If you can delegate, do it and where necessary get extra help. For example, I can write a 52,000-word novel but ask me to do my accounts and I am stressed out mess. An account, PR professional, Web Designer or call answering service is an investment, but sometimes you need to take that step to move forwards.

Take breaks and get away from your desk at lunchtime rather than eating as you work.

Get outside once a day for some fresh air. A walk in the park, a job by the river or a cycle to the office can blow the cobwebs away and give you a mood blasting dose of endorphins.

Spend time with people. While social media and mobile devices mean many of us can work anywhere, being alone all of the time can lead to loneliness, demotivation and lethargy.
Networking events, hot desking, industry awards and training courses all get you away from your desk so you can meet new people and form connections that LinkedIn doesn’t always create.

If you spend your day snacking on convenience foods and coffee, you aren’t going to be working at your best. A decent breakfast, protein based lunch and healthy snacks, coupled with plenty of water, and limited caffeine, will keep your mind and body strong and focussed.

At the end of the day, turn off. There may well be times when you are really busy and need to put in the extra hours, but that shouldn’t be the norm. If you are checking in 24/7 and home life is being hit, it’s time to sit down with your diary and business plan and look at where changes can be made.

So, be aware of work balance not just this week, but every day and you might just find you are more productive and less stressed.

Join the conversation using #WorkLifeWeek and tweet your thoughts to @natalietrice and @workingfamUK

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