Written by: Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance that allows us to thrive at work while being truly present at home and enjoying our personal time is a goal that almost every modern human is in pursuit of.
Having a poor work-life balance can lead to feelings of intense stress, overwhelm, relationship problems, and eventually burnout. It can take a huge toll on every aspect of your life and wellbeing.
So how can you actively fight against the culture that says you need to work to the point of sickness in order to be successful?
1. Set and maintain clear, firm boundaries
A major symptom of an unhealthy work-life balance is having a distinct lack of boundaries. You’re expected by others (and yourself) to always be ‘on’, which has a negative impact on your mental wellbeing and is a sure-fire way to trigger your sympathetic nervous system (aka, your fight-or-flight response) and burn yourself out quickly.
Setting and maintaining clear, firm boundaries in terms of your time, workload, and how to be contacted is key for evening out your work-life balance and restoring your mental clarity.
This incorporates time management. It means being able to prioritize tasks according to urgency and deadlines. It means getting intentional about separating your work time from your personal time to stop them from blending into one and draining all your energy and focus. It also means having set times for performing tasks and set times for stopping.
One way to achieve this is by calendar blocking, also known as time blocking, using a digital calendar (such as Google calendar) and allocating specific blocks of time to certain tasks or projects, rather than relying on a vague, unstructured to-do list. Instead, give your to-do list an actionable, visual timeline to aid your productivity and peace of mind.
Setting and maintaining clear boundaries also includes minimizing the time spent checking your inbox and responding to emails. Having clearly defined ‘inbox hours’ can be helpful in improving your work-life balance, so you can inform colleagues and clients when you are able to be contacted and when they can expect a reply from you – alleviating the pressure to always be ‘on’.
2. Unlearn perfectionism
Ever heard the saying ‘perfection is the enemy of progress’ or ‘perfection is the enemy of done’? It’s true!
It doesn’t mean don’t try or don’t aim high – it’s more about your state of mind going into tasks. A perfectionist mindset adds unnecessary, constricting pressure that manifests in your mind as well as your body – causing you to lack focus and being unable to relax and find flow with your work.
It sets you up for disappointment and feeds your inner critic who is desperate to affirm any negative core beliefs you hold about yourself and your abilities. Sidestep your inner critic by altering your perfectionist mindset. Affirm to yourself that you can do things well, but you don’t need to aim for perfection with each task.
Understand that your expectations of yourself and the pressure you place on yourself to excel can be forms of self-sabotage, lead to unhealthy fixations on work and hold you back in the long run. Perfectionism is another recipe for burnout.
Commit fully to tasks but be open to receiving and implementing constructive feedback without internalizing it as a reflection of your self-worth. Your worth is inherent and not contingent on your productivity or performance at work. You have a job; you are not your job.
Unlearning perfectionism opens space for resilience and adaptability to grow.
3. Make time for hobbies and relaxation
After a long workday, it’s tempting to trade the ‘bad screen’ (work on a computer) for the ‘good screen’ (smartphone); to allow yourself to be pulled in by the allure of mindless scrolling and videos about how to live your best life, and before you know it is 11 PM. Time to go to bed, wake up and do this all over again.
Break the cycle!
You have the power within you to transform your life and honor your wellbeing by making different decisions. Time management doesn’t just stop when you finish work for the day. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your personal time is a floating timeline, be intentional about how you spend it. Self-care is a necessity, so make it a priority.
Wishing you had more time for yoga and meditation? Or a spare 40 minutes to get stuck into a good book? Trade the time you normally spent scrolling for time spent living. It’s a matter of switching your mindset to break and replace habits. Pursue things that energize and refresh you.
Introduce positive affirmations to help you make the transition: “I always have time for hobbies in my daily routine”, “I find it easy to relax and practice self-care”. Give yourself full permission to unwind.
4. Ask for help when you need it
So many of us are so resistant to asking for help when we need it. Whether it’s from a mentor at work, a colleague, or seeking therapy or coaching outside of the office.
Asking for help, making yourself vulnerable, and laying out your worries, doubts, and uncertainties require a lot of emotional energy!
But being open to receiving help, advice, or clarification on something is infinitely better than working yourself into a frenzy trying to figure it out and manage on your own.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Carrying the weight of uncertainty and responsibility all by yourself everywhere you go is going to make you feel trapped and never free of work-related pressures. Allow yourself the opportunity to feel freer and calmer.
It’s likely that the experience will help you to learn how to approach similar situations in the future. There are valuable lessons to be drawn from every experience.
If you need help with creating a healthy work-life balance, book a free Discovery call with me here, and let’s create a plan to turn things around for you. If you think it’s an office culture, why not speak to Senior Managers/ HR about joining my Inspire Teams Membership. This monthly membership will help cultivate a team spirit and work culture that will support your work-life balance and ensure you are an effective member of the team. With different buzz topics, each month why not catch September’s launch: all about the power of food to improve your mood.
Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Claire Elmes is the founder of Inspire You and is passionate about work-life balance. Having experienced burnout, Claire is dedicated to empowering people to work through stress and anxiety, traumatic life events, shift mindset, regulate emotions, gain clarity, and develop a stable routine. Through coaching and therapeutic techniques, Claire helps people tap into their potential and transform their lives for the better. Since Covid 19, Claire has recognized many companies are changing how they work and is supporting them to develop innovative well-being strategies to prevent staff burnout and help teams thrive, not survive. Claire provides companies with regular well-being support on a wide variety of topics such as: "How to avoid burnout", "How to make time in your week for what matters", "How to stop overthinking", "How to improve sleep", " How to manage imposter syndrome," "How to be the best version of you", to name just a few. Claire's mission is to empower the emotional well-being of staff and bring the fun back into work life.