The phrase "work life" is everywhere these days. Especially for those of us who work from home and work for ourselves. We don't have someone standing over us telling us when to turn up to work and someone who is closing up the office behind us. I have known this phrase for a long time but it wasn't until 2017 I decided to take it seriously. I spent 2016 working myself into the ground. Literally. I worked long days, and long nights. I worked weekends. I was always tired and my health started to really suffer from it. I had low energy and a raging cloud of depression and anxiety trying to push its way in. I had worked so hard I didn't have the energy to fight it off. It got me.
Mental health professionals recommend we spend at LEAST 20 minutes at day doing something that is just for us. Something we enjoy. When was the last time you took 20 minutes to do something that was just for you? I spent a lot of time not having the time. Not wanting to appear selfish. I ran myself into the ground. Burned myself out. I was regularly ill. My anxiety was at its worst. And my depression was crushing me.
I began to scratch the surface with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and some changes to my lifestyle. After a while, I started to climb back into who I am. I decided to make time to exercise regularly. To see my friends. To say YES to things that could bring me joy.
As this week is #WorkLifeWeek I’m going to kick things off by sharing
Three Ways I Keep A Good Work Life Balance.
- Plan. The more time I've spent planning, the more free time I've found. When I was working in a more unstructured way, I regularly found myself struggling to get anything done. I felt like I didn't know how to start, or what I was working towards. I've since set very clear goals which I regularly review and have a structured way of working towards these so I know that when I am working on something, if I can't immediately assign it to one of my goals, it is much more likely to get put aside while I work on something more important. I work to a strict schedule during the week and I know what I'm working on and when. This means the time I am out of the office can be spent entirely on myself. Without guilt! It's amazing how much more time you discover in your day when you're working with purpose and intent rather than overwhelming busy-ness.
- Say YES more. I was often too busy to make time for social things, or holidays. I would just keep working away, or if I ended up doing something on the weekend instead of working I would feel guilty. I've made it much more clear for myself what is work time and what is my own time. I've managed to create free weekends, every weekend. And in the case of having to do an event on a weekend? I now take a day off in the week. I know that no one gets to the end of their lives and wishes that they worked more, so I wanted to make sure I was filling my life with things that would create great memories. All that hard work should pay off and give me the opportunity to do more fun things. I've made sure to say YES to whatever I can that will improve my life experience and bring me joy. I have made efforts to surrounding myself with positive people and doing things that I enjoy. And best of all: they've barely cost me a thing. I've worked hard to change my thinking from negative to positive, trying to remind myself of that lovely Henry Ford quote: "Whether you think you can or you think you can't - you're right".
- Make things more visible and visual. I've always been a very visual person. It's fine having information tucked away in a spreadsheet where I won't see it, but having it in clear view is a much more powerful thing for me. I decided this year that I would have the same number of holiday days that an employed person would have. I drew out the number of boxes I wanted to take for holiday days. Each time I've taken time off for a "holiday" day I've filled in the box with what I've done. It's been surprisingly difficult to fill those boxes and I'm going to finish the year with extra holiday but I've made a start and I know to start earlier next year. I have already made a good start by booking a little holiday break in January. It will help me calm down after the Christmas rush and get fired up for the new year.
How do you keep a work life balance? Any tips? I'd love to hear them!
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