Who are you? It’s a simple question, but one that is too often answered with a job title.
When you work hard at something you genuinely enjoy, you can find yourself making more and more time for it - often at the expense of hobbies and socialising. It’s a well-known adage that if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. However, whether you believe you’re under stress at work or not, your job may still be detracting from your other passions in life.
Ask yourself this - when’s the last time you went traveling and didn’t feel the need to check your emails? What do you discuss over the dinner table that isn’t work related? What’s the last non-work-related achievement that you felt really proud of? If you’re having a tough time thinking of answers, you may want to address your work life balance.
Fortunately for you, your job has already given you the tools to improve life beyond the office - it’s just a matter of applying them! Start right now with a few of our top work life balance tips.
Start a Personal Project
Chances are, you're working life is full of projects. You’ve probably become quite adept at looking at the bigger picture, then figuring out how you can achieve your goals within certain time restraints. This mindset can also thrive in your non-working life - you just need to get started!
Whether there’s a photography course you’ve been thinking of taking, a novel you’ve never got round to writing, or a community group you’ve wanted to get more involved with, seeing other aspects of your life as projects gives them the impetus to get done. Break down a big goal into smaller steps, and dedicate a few hours a week to it. You’ll soon find that, by taking on a challenge and sticking to it, you will begin defining yourself as a photographer, a writer, or a campaigner, on top of your career role.
Set a Schedule and Stick to it
Planning is your best friend in the office - blocking out your day hour-by-hour to make sure you get the most from your time. Seeing as it’s such a force of habit, why not use your worktime organisational skills to make the most of your downtime as well?
Write down your plans for your evenings and weekends, then tick them off alongside your work schedule, and feel the buzz of achievement when you honour your own commitments. Even making note of an hour each day that you can spend relaxing with a good book or a warm bath can help clear your mind and get you back on track for the next working day.
Take a Technology Detox
Admit it. Even when you’re not working, you’re tuned into work. From the compulsion to check your smartphone inbox while out with friends to the “quick emails” in front of the TV that somehow take all night.
Were it not for the plethora of technological devices that we rely on, we really could leave work at the office. One of the kindest things that busy workers can do - both for themselves and for those around them - is strictly monitoring use of the internet. Whether that means banning technology from the bedroom, switching off after 8PM, or taking Saturdays utterly off grid, you’ll see an instant effect on your relationships, interests, sleep patterns, and general health. I think you’ll agree that that’s worth missing out on your colleagues’ latest Facebook updates for a few hours!
Always Be Accountable
We all have that friend who makes plans to meet for drinks, but more often than not finds a work-based excuse to drop out last minute. To avoid becoming that friend yourself, make sure that you ask friends and family to hold you accountable for your time away from the computer.
Tell your other half that Wednesday and Friday evenings are time for you to spend together, or ask your best friend to go to your exercise class with you, as an extra bit of motivation not to drop out yourself. We are far less likely to back out of a social situation if we feel we’d be letting someone down - and less likely still if they know not to take no for an answer! Letting loved ones in on your problems with work life balance can also be a great way to take the weight of work stress off your own shoulders, and to feel supported in your efforts toward making more ‘me time’.
Of course, your job is a huge part of your life - and your successes at work are a huge part of your identity. However, making a serious commitment to reigniting passions beyond the workplace will soon have you feeling more confident, grounded, supported and excited - both in and out of work.