I had a pang of guilt last Saturday. I’d arranged for a reunion with some old uni friends, some of whom I’d not seen in 20 years. Half way through the afternoon, I heard my phone beep and stupidly I checked it. It was a work colleague asking me a question and I responded. That opened the lines of communication and before I knew it I was torn between responding to my colleague and regaling stories of a (slightly) mis-spent youth with my friends.
This set me thinking, who was at fault? My colleague for sending me a message at the weekend, or me for responding the moment my phone beeped? I think the answer is probably neither! We live in a world now, where pretty much everything we want is available at the touch of a button, TV programmes, films, takeaways, or weekly shopping, so why not an answer to a question? I won’t lie, I love being able to catch up on my favourite TV shows and anything that stops me having to cook after a long day is a bonus! But what about that time PMP? (Pre-Mobile Phones)
That time when you couldn’t check your e-mail without physically being in the office and your mobile didn’t work abroad. hen you were on holiday, there was no chance of anyone from the office calling you to double check something insignificant and you didn’t waste half a day taking pictures of the view, you enjoyed it?
It sounds like bliss! Somewhere along the way it appears we’ve lost the ability to relax, whether it’s down to advancing technology or the fact we’re scared to be out of touch with the office in case we lose our jobs, I’m not sure. But a work / life balance is important and something you shouldn’t feel guilty about!
But how can we achieve it?
- What targets do your employers expect you to achieve?
- Make yourself a “To Do List”, starting with the most important thing first, then be realistic about what you can achieve in that day and what can wait until the following day.
- Don’t leave things until the last minute and try and avoid where possible taking work home.
- Know what’s expected of you in your home life too, what responsibilities do you have? What needs doing?
- Let work colleagues know when you intend to take a break, give them plenty of notice. We all have that one colleague that likes to save that “super important task” for the day before you’re about to go on holiday!
- Make use of your “out of office”, a colleague of mine always had it on, it would clearly state that all e-mails would be responded to between the hours of 9 and midday. It worked! It stopped people chasing him for a reply.
- Remember technology is there to make your life easier….. be in control of it! Use the “Do not disturb” facility on your phone, turn off the notifications for e-mails or certain apps.
- Or go one step further, ban technology at certain points of the evening / weekend. Maybe leave your phone at home….
Just Say No!
- It’s OK, to not agree to do something! Some people will always try and persuade you to do something that you just don’t have time for, both at work and home. If it’s not going to enrich your life in any way, then say no!
- If you do say no, then don’t feel guilty! It may come as a surprise, but you’re not responsible for the whole world! You have just as much right to do what you want with your time as the next person, without feeling bad about it.
- Make a list of 10 things that you like to do, things that bring you joy! It can be anything from reading a book, to going for a run to cooking a meal to watching your favourite TV show.
- Once you’ve made that list, try and do at least one thing from it every day. Make it your time. Switch your phone off and just enjoy your time
I know it won’t be an overnight change, but hopefully this will help you find that balance so you can enjoy all aspects of your life.