When you aren’t striking the right work/life balance, your personal, professional goals can take a back seat. Letting your goals take a hit can have a negative impact on your working life, but by taking a few simple precautions you can make the balance more manageable to keep your personal development on track.
Leave work at the office
With technology making us connected 24/7, it’s hard to switch off when you get home from the office each day. Always being available makes it hard to differentiate between work and home, so the best approach is to separate both categories then figure out how to structure your work time to ensure you achieve everything you want to.
Work should have two outcomes: actions that are linked to tasks and deliverables; goals that are personal to your own development and that will help progress your career. To get the right balance, disconnect your lines of communication for at least an hour each day as it will give you time to focus on what your personal needs are. Don’t feel guilty about this: taking time for yourself will benefit you as a person, in the long run it will benefit your career and the company you work for.
Working from home
Switching off can become difficult if you work remotely or from home. Unless you keep work refined to a dedicated space in your home, it will be a challenge trying to distinguish work life from home life.
If distractions prove too much to handle, working in a coffee shop or similar environment can be beneficial in staying productive and keeping you out of the house. The hustle and bustle of a coffee shop can boost your creativity as long as you make sure to spend the time focusing on your own personal needs.
Make sure you remember when to stop, however, as working remotely can make it feel easier to keep going. It might seem like a good idea at the time but over a longer period can affect your work/life balance by eating up your time with family and friends.
Contrary to the opinion of many bosses, it’s more than acceptable to take regular breaks from your work. Stepping away for a few minutes can create sufficient distance to allow your brain to restart with a fresh outlook. UK Health and Safety Executive released a report that shows 28.2 million working days were lost to work-related ill health, and work-related stress accounted for 40% of these illnesses.
Stress is a major factor for everyone, in any line of business, so it is important to look after yourself with regular exercise and plenty of sleep. As well as these, taking time to personally reflect can help you prioritise and improve efficiency in your professional life.
Unfortunately, the UK doesn’t heed this advice and works longer hours with shorter breaks than anywhere else in the EU. Longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean better work, so give yourself a bit of slack and don’t overwork or put relentless pressure on yourself. After all, taking a week off now and then to rejuvenate is better than taking a few months off due to exhaustion.
Time management is crucial
Studies show that multi-tasking is less effective than completing tasks one after another, so planning your day is crucial, and spending the end of the day planning for tomorrow will help you save time and become more organised.
It is also important to realise your own strengths and work cycles – if you work best in the afternoon, schedule all your important tasks for this time. This will help you to prioritise as well as assess how your tasks are affecting your personal development.
Keeping track of your overall development plan can save you from going under when you have a mountainous workload. Measuring your personal progression can give your career, and your confidence, a boost when you need it most, and drive you forward onto bigger and better challenges in the future.