Do you work to live? Or Live to work? What is your ideal work-life balance?

Everyone has a different perspective on what work-life balance looks like to them, and this changes as we go through life. What is important to us shifts and changes as life changes and our circumstances change.

Work life balance is all about ensuring we have time outside of work to enjoy time with family and friends, and doing what you enjoy. It’s about separating work and our personal life. We spend so much time at work, it is important to find a job that makes us feel happy. But this may be different for everyone, so don’t compare what is important to you in both work and outside of it, to the choices of your friends and work colleagues.

To evaluate your current work-life balance, look at what is important to you in all aspects of your life; it could be hobbies, health & fitness, children, the buzz from achieving things, money for holiday, helping others be successful, these are just a few examples. When you have your list, see which fall under in work and which are outside work. Do you get to do everything that is important to you on a regular basis? If not, what element of your life is taking over, and what can you do to get the balance right for you? Prioritise things if need be, but make sure if it’s all essential, it eventually gets high on the list. You can use a grid of importance and urgency to help you prioritise if necessary; and possibly question if the low importance/low urgency items are in fact required….

In all of this, we often forget to add what is important to us, for our own mental wellbeing, or we add it, but it’s the first thing we let slip. Maybe you feel selfish going to an exercise class after work because you miss an hour with the children; but by taking this hour to yourself, the rest of the time you are with your children is all the better, because you feel better in yourself. Maybe it’s having a soak in the bath after a hard day, catching up with friends, having a date night with your partner and organising a babysitter, whatever is important to you as self-care needs to be in the list of what is important just like everything else. If you’re not sure what self-care looks like for you, then try out a few things, maybe a yoga class if you find it hard to relax, or a HIIT or Boxing class if you want to burn off excess energy from stress, maybe reading a book, taking up a new hobby.

If you are doing lots of things that aren’t important to you, question why; yes there are some things we have to do, but sometimes there are ways round things, maybe they can take less time, can be done less often etc, maybe a chore can be shared? Are you doing unnecessary things because you think you should, rather than needing or wanting to do them? Are you afraid of saying ‘no’ to people? Perhaps that’s what you need to work on? Remember what is important to other people may not be important to you, and depending on the relationship you have with the person asking you, will have a bearing on whether you should say no outright or negotiate about the request, maybe doing a lesser option, or doing something at a later date for example.

A work-life balance that is right for you will reduce your stress and help prevent breakdowns, and will also help you fulfil your goal, both in your personal life and career life. It will improve your health and wellbeing, increase your productivity, you will enjoy work more, and you will have time for you and the things you enjoy.

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