Working hours in the UK are becoming increasingly demanding as roles become richer. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population.
Do you have a healthy work-life balance? According to a recent Walters People job satisfaction survey, over 70% of professionals highlight that a positive work-life balance is highly important in determining their job satisfaction, but only 40% are completely satisfied that their personal life remains unaffected by their job.
While there are things that your employer can implement to encourage a health work-life balance, how can you take control to improve it ourselves? We’ve outlined our top tips to make sure your personal life doesn’t have suffer because of a demanding job.
Know your limits
Do you often end up staying late in the office and see your concentration dwindle? If your mind is shutting down on you, it’s a sign you’re overworking and need to take a time out. Working late with a depleted mind is wasted time – is the task so urgent that it can’t wait until the next morning when you can probably complete it quicker with a more productive and energised approach?
It’s easy to get overloaded when you’re a ‘yes’ person but take some time to consider if you should be taking on work that isn’t included in your role.
Don’t take your work home with you
With remote-working capabilities, the line between working and home is becoming increasingly blurred, which can have a detrimental impact on your overall mood. Technology means we can access our work in an instant, but it’s important to create some distance once the workday is over. So unplug, and make sure your personal time is quality time.
Simple actions such as turning off your email notifications on your phone can allow you to withdraw stress from your system, live your evenings and weekends to the full and quiet that anxious feeling every time your phone pings. Many employers offer work smartphones to ensure your personal social life doesn’t get tied up with your work, and you don’t end up answering that email on a Friday night.
In your role, do you receive increasingly outlandish demands that fall beyond the scope of your job? It’s easy to get overloaded when you’re a ‘yes’ person but take some time to consider if you should be taking on work that isn’t included in your role.
Rather than saying ‘yes’ without thinking, reply with an ‘I’ll get back to you’ and think about if it’s something you should be helping out with. If it’s not, rather than giving a ‘no’, refer them to the correct person or instruct them how they can complete the task themselves. That way, you can focus on your pressing tasks without staying late doing tasks that shouldn’t be assigned to you. You’ll find the requests become fewer and far between the more you start doing this.
Take regular breaks
Are you the type that will work solidly throughout the day and shovel your lunch down at your desk? Taking time out from the working day is completely acceptable, and you should always take advantage of it. Use your lunch break for some personal time, why not meet a friend for a coffee, take an exercise class or take a brisk walk and get some fresh air? Displacing yourself from the workplace is necessary to break up your day and solely focus on you and what you need.
Although you can’t always stop the work piling up, what you can do is get smart about how you manage it, primly by communicating from the outset when you can deliver. The key is not doing necessarily doing something straight away when it’s assigned to you but assessing its importance and time-sensitivity against other projects. Managing expectations in this way gives you greater clarity on what you need to focus on, stops you from working beyond your hours and also gives you the opportunity to over deliver when you hand something over ahead of time.
Time to talk
Take responsibility when things feel tough and speak up when you feel your career is taking too much out of you. If you want your manager to address the issue, they need to know about the pressures you’re facing.
Life is more than eat, sleep, work, repeat. The key is working smarter, not necessarily harder.