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Work-life balance tips that also make you a better person

Published 17th January 2017 by Melissa Farrington

Work-life balance is about a better physical, emotional and cognitive relationship between work and home.

You can improve work-life balance in many practical ways, but should always go for options that help improve your overall sense of wellbeing, ability to succeed in life and how you treat others.

Here are a few to get you started.

Practice tight prioritisation to achieve more with less energy

Many people have a perfectionism problem. There’s a much-needed anti-perfectionism trend at the moment, with people announcing that ‘done is better than perfect.’ That’s true, but it’s an extremely hard habit to break.

Tight prioritisation is about assigning reasonable stretches of time to a task and then forcing yourself to move on. This also helps you become more effective because you’re concentrating hard but for less time, which is more natural for the brain.

Over time you become better at assigning the right length of time to tasks, and stress goes down as your ability to do work in set amounts of time goes up. You become better able to cope with challenges.

Tight prioritisation isn’t only a way to get more done at work, it’s also a way to help you make time for the most important things in life. By tightly prioritising tasks at home - the chores we don’t want to do - you end up with additional free time to be spent with your family.

Enforce boundaries with discipline

As the world becomes more transparent, globalised and connected it seems that ‘switching off’ is automatically seen as a bad thing: we are expected to be frictionless, moving swiftly from one domain to the next, using technology as an enabler.

But the brain naturally builds compartments and we go against this tendency when we fail to segment our lives effectively.

Without boundaries, we experience leakage of our time and energy - we’re working in the evening instead of spending time with our kids, or trying to book the plumber in to look at a dodgy pipe in between meetings. We never really focus on one thing at a time, which means we get exhausted, never really living in the moment.

However, if we enforce boundaries without mercy, we focus on one thing at a time, saving energy, improving concentration and increasing our enjoyment of life.

We stop bleeding stress into everything we do. When we’re spending time with our kids, that’s our ring fenced time for doing so, which means we’re truly in the moment, not thinking about work.

Build emotional intelligence to prevent emotional ‘bleeding’

We’re playing with our children and - bam - our phone beeps. It may not even be an email but just the tone sends our heart rate soaring.

Unless we understand the nature of the emotions we feel, and can become at peace with them, every domain of our life will bleed into the next.

Developing emotional intelligence is about our ability to identify, compartmentalise, accept without judgement and understand our emotions and help prevent them from dictating how we feel and what we do.

This not only allows us to keep a positive handle on the emotions we develop at work and stop them bleeding into our home life, but also to be more emotionally-prepared to fully partake in our home life when we finish work, and use our emotions to better please and help others.

Start looking for better ways to create and sustain energy levels

When we say we don’t have enough time, we mean we don’t have enough energy. We get home from work exhausted, irritable and unable to do anything else that requires cognitive effort.

In effect, we use all our energy at work and have none at home.

This can be addressed - you can have more energy after work to spend on your life - by improving the ways you create and sustain energy.

Firstly, caffeine is artificial energy and should be avoided, while sleeping well helps create a more abundant source of energy. Taking regular breaks at work, as well as chunking similar tasks together and avoiding multitasking, slow down energy depletion.