Your ideal work/life balance will vary on a day-to-day basis. The perfect balance today will most likely be totally different from tomorrow. It typically depends on your priorities in life, and those priorities can vary from being single, in a relationship and married with children, or unemployed, starting out in a entry-level job or running a business.
So if you feel exhausted with life, or perhaps you feel there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done, you might consider hiring a life coach to help reassess your work/life balance.
On this page we will look into reassessing your work/life balance and discover how a life coach can help. We will also note a number of work/life balance tips for you to focus on either with your coach or by yourself, as well as looking at the consequences of having an imbalance.
On this page
Reassessing your work/life balance
Work pressure can sometimes take over our lives, and although we all know there’s more to life than work, some of us can get so caught up in long working hours and increased workplace competition that we may forget it. Friends, family and hobbies can often be unintentionally neglected while work fills most of the hours in our day. With the growth in technology, it has become easier to work even if you are not at the office; emails and the Internet make it harder to switch off from work, and communicating out of working hours is now common.
Most people who spend a lot of time at work find they earn a reasonable income but have no time to enjoy their money or spend any time doing the things they enjoy. Finding a work/life balance means dividing your time between everything you find important in your life. If you (or your family) are suffering from a lack of balance in your work life, perhaps it’s time for some changes.
Reasons people may decide to reassess their work/life balance include:
- feeling exhausted on a daily basis
- not spending enough time with friends or family
- work has become their life
- spending evening and weekends thinking about/doing work
- not spending any time enjoying hobbies/activities
- dreading getting up in the mornings
- feeling unable to cope with the pressure of life
- not enjoying life anymore.
Life should be about balancing the things you enjoy with the responsibilities of earning a living. Without this balance, relationships may begin to break down and life may stop being pleasurable. If you’re working to earn money that you don’t have the time to spend or you're missing out on spending time with your family, a life coach may be able to help.
How can a life coach help me achieve a better work/life balance?
Employing a life coach can be a great way to help you get back on track and help you decide how you’d ideally like to spend your life. Although we all have to make some compromises, it is often possible to organise our lives in a much more productive way and start enjoying the things we want to.
With the help of a life coach, you will potentially be able to:
- identify the roadblocks and problems that are currently standing in your way
- change counterproductive behaviours
- address job burnout
- set boundaries by speaking up
- manage stress
- improve your effectiveness at work and at home.
Life is short and making every day count should be top priority. A life coach may be able to help you see things in a different way and set clear goals on what you’d like to achieve.
Improving your work/life balance
For the majority of the population, work is an inevitable part of life. Not only do most people need to work to achieve the lifestyle they aspire to or are comfortable with, but they often need to work for a large part of their lives. There are many positive benefits to working covering social, mental, physical, emotional and financial areas. However, in the same way that when we are in a good job which we enjoy, we benefit in all these areas. Whereas when we are in a job that we don’t enjoy and we don’t find a life balance with, we experience detrimental effects in all of these areas.
It is because work is such a large area of most people's lives that we need to ensure that we enjoy it and find a suitable balance between life and work.
Work/life balance tips
Here are a few work/life balance tips that may help you to manage your time effectively.
Time is a finite resource, we have a certain amount and that is it. So really it is your most valuable asset and the thing that should be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to achieving a good work/life balance. With around eight hours needed for sleep each night, you’re left with 112 hours per week to divide between work and the rest of your life.
If you are having trouble making time for the things you love, then looking at your week as a block of time, where you allocate slots of time for certain things is a great way to effectively start time management practices. If you work an average work week of eight hours per day, five days a week then you are left with 72 hours of time to manage. Where your 72 hours goes is up to you. You will spend time on daily chores, so work out how much time you want to allocate to these things and then prioritise the other things you want to fit into your life.
Many of us waste time by doing things we don’t really want to do, other people demand our time and we often feel obliged to give it to them. If time were money, we might be less reluctant to do so. Try to view your time as your most valuable asset before you make decisions about where you are going to spend it. This should help you prioritise and manage time more effectively, allowing you to be essentially making time for yourself.
Identify your priorities in life
Once you have worked out how much ‘disposable’ time you have, you can start to think about what things you would like to fill that time with. If you know you only have around four hours per day of time for yourself, it will be easier spend it doing something you really enjoy.
When it comes to deciding what your priorities in life are, try to think about what you would want to say you had done when you looked back at your life. Chances are that you won’t look back and say that you were glad you watched so much TV! The things you find important in life will become apparent to you when you change the way you think about your life. Life is very precious and short, so being aware of how to manage time is the key to making time for the thing your really love, appreciate and value. These things will be different for everyone, but they will all have the same result of a better work/life balance and a happier you!
Make a plan
When you have identified your highest priorities in life, make a plan so you can execute them without fail. Create a schedule to stick to for every day both before and after work. Don’t forget about weekends either - try to take advantage of them by planning something fun and challenging. You could plan to go out for dinner and a movie with your family or do something totally out of your comfort zone, such as abseiling or hiking. If you don’t make fun time a priority, it could lead to stress in the long-term.
Planning a holiday will also give you something to look forward to through tough times at work. Whilst on holiday, try to leave work where it should be - back at work. To keep the stress away, leave all work mobile phones and laptops in the office.
Understand the effect of technology
The use of technology can have a positive or negative effect on our lives. Deciding when the right time is to address work voice mails, text messages, emails and other communications is difficult, and can be considered as the key to striking a good work/life balance. Not only can being ‘plugged-in’ all of the time erode your personal life, it can hamper your productivity at work if you are constantly checking emails and answering phone calls.
On the other hand, technology can offer the advantage of working from home to help fulfil both your personal and professional responsibilities. It is a balancing act, however, as it does require an entirely new set of skills to really get the most out of this type of flexible working.
It’s important that technology is managed in an efficient manner, as our work life can slowly eat away at our personal time, and before you know it your evenings are gone because you’ve taken advantage of the work laptop or the email facilities on your smartphone.
The risks of an imbalance
There are a number of consequences that you may have experienced if you do not have a healthy work/life balance. Here are five things in your life that you are putting at risk:
- Your health - If you’re working so much you can’t fit in time to exercise or prepare wholly nutritious food for yourself, it will most likely catch up with you. In the short-term, you may start to feel sluggish after snacking and lacking meals. In the long-term however, you may encounter serious health problems.
- Your family - Your priorities in life will most likely start with your family. To neglect them because of work commitments can take its toll on home life, which can heighten the impact of stress.
- Your friendships - If you spend the majority of your spare time catching up with work, it is likely you won't have many close friends. Just like family, friends need your time too. You may feel your work colleagues are enough, but if you don’t see them outside of the working environment, can you really consider them as close friends?
- Your effectiveness - The amount of hours you work in a week rarely correlates with your overall effectiveness. It’s not how hard you work, it’s how smart you work. You are most productive when you are fully refreshed, stress-free and motivated, rather than over-worked, stressed and unhappy.
- Your example - If you are a leader, your colleagues may unintentionally, or intentionally, mimic the way you approach work. You set the pace. If you’re work/life balance is causing you stress, this might affect your colleagues too if they try to match your work ethic. Be mindful of your surroundings when you stay late at work - let your colleagues know what you expect of them so they can have a positive balance in life too.
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