These last few weeks have been really tough for creating a good balance between work life and home life. It feels like a constant struggle not to let the negativity at work (bad atmosphere, uncertain future yada yada) affect the precious time I have at home with my family.
So, what are my tips for creating a good work/life balance? Read on…
Find a job you enjoy doing
This is easier said than done, especially in the current job market. It can seem like you’re lucky to have a job, and should stick with it even if you don’t like the company, your boss, your co-workers, the work itself etc.
But, I would encourage anyone who is able to, to make a career move when you are unhappy in your workplace. It might take time, you might have to spend some free time looking for new opportunities, network with potential new employers, maybe you want to retrain and that might mean a pay-cut? Sometimes, you have to take the leap!
Of course, if you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, here’s my more practical tips for finding balance.
Make your lunch hour your own
In the UK, a lot of workers have a 9-5 contract or similar, but they aren’t paid for an hour in the middle of the day a.k.a lunchtime. It can be easy to grab a quick lunch and eat at your desk, or work right through, but it is important to take that break.
You could read a book or magazine, window shop, get some exercise or catch-up with friends and family members.
When I was working in an office with changing facilities, I used to go for a 20 minute jog which meant I could still change and eat lunch within the hour. This helped to take my mind off work and also meant I didn’t have to feel guilty about spending time exercising when I got home and really just want to play with the toddler!
Leave on Time
If you don’t like your job, but you work hard during your contracted hours, leave on time. Don’t stay late as most studies show that it doesn’t make you more productive and your manager probably doesn’t notice the extra time you spend at work. Why spend more time than you have to somewhere you don’t like? Go on, log off, shut down, leave!
The De-Stress Commute
I’ve been making conscious decisions to leave the bad vibes in the car on the drive home, by playing my favourite music and just rocking out! Ignore the funny looks from other drivers, blast the music and sing your heart out! It’s amazing what a good 1-woman karaoke session can do for your stress levels!
Other options might be listening to podcasts, reading a book, talk to friends and family (hands free if you’re driving!) or if you’re walking why not use a route that takes you through a park or somewhere with a nice view.
Most people spend the majority of the day indoors, sitting at a desk or standing all day in a store. During the warmer months especially, you can start to feel resentful that you’re spending the majority of your time inside, and we all know we need the Vitamin Ds from the sun to be happy and healthy!
So, after you’ve finished work, get outside! It might be as simple as going for a walk, spend time in your garden, go feed the ducks, visit the park or my personal favourite, sit in a beer garden! If you’re planning on exercising, choose an outdoor workout. Running, cycling, yoga and HIIT/bodyweight exercises can all be done outside.
Be in the moment with your family
When you get home, make a conscious effort to be in the moment with your family. Ask them how their day was, talk about your upcoming plans, be active together or just watch a movie together! Don’t let your bad thoughts about work affect the precious time you have with your loved ones.
Make after-work or weekend plans
Just thinking about something fun you have planned can help to minimise the impact of a job you don’t like. Fill up your free time with exciting plans so that by the time Sunday night comes around, you’re not thinking about the impending Monday and the week ahead, but instead you’re reflecting on all of the awesome things you’ve done! You’ll also have something to talk about with your colleagues rather than office gossip!
Which leads me to my last tip…
It can be very tempting to join in on office gossip and politics, but from my own experience, this only ever has a negative impact.
If you’re listening to others express their negative experiences, it can start to feel like it has happened to you as well. If you want to offer an objective ear to your colleagues, make sure you rationalise that their opinions don’t have to be your own (unless of course, you totally agree with them).
If you’re unhappy, think carefully who you share this with at work, and if you want to share at all. It can be cathartic to have a good bitch sometimes, but what you thought was a throwaway comment or just an in-the-moment stress can become someone else’s conversation, and the issue can become bigger than it really is.
If you’re having real problems at work, experiencing bullying or harrassment, talk to your manager, or go above them. Talk to your union or trade body if you have one. Don’t let serious things go unheard, as it can lead to stress which isn’t good for anyone!
What are your tips for creating a good work/life balance?
*All the images I used in this post were taken from Google searches, I don’t own any of the image rights.