1. Step away from the email
Is this incessant checking of emails and social media adding to productivity or just pointless stress?
2. Just say no
If you tend to say yes without thinking when you’re asked to do something extra, stall. Don’t answer straight away. Say you’ll get back to the person asking, then use that time to think clearly about whether to say yes or no. If you want to say yes, fine. But if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it. Don’t justify your actions or give excuses. There’s no need to be nasty or rude.
3. Work smarter, not harder
Clearly, though, many of us are not working smart, but – and there’s no easy way to put this – stupid. British productivity remains low while the number of hours we work exceeds that of some of our European. One result of this is the dismal array of statistics: when working long hours 27% of employees feel depressed, 34% feel anxious and 58% feel irritable (Mental Health Foundation).
4. Leave work at work
Closure is a core principle to a healthy work-life balance. If you do happen to take work home with you, you should try to confine it to a certain area of your home – and be able to close the door on it!
5. Forget about perfection
Perfection is an ideal result. Sometimes, if you’re overworked, you need to explicitly tell yourself that what you’ve done may not be perfect, but it is good enough. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself when you don’t need to – at work or at home. Always “Give yourself a break”.
6. Don’t be a martyr
The reason most people are martyrs is that they want the approval of others; if they realise martyrdom – just doing all the work – is exasperating to be around, they might stop behaving that way.
7. Ease off the adrenaline
Ask yourself how well your life is really going. What happens often is that those hooked on adrenaline hop from one rush to another – from one task to another? What’s that like for your family and friends to be around? Not much fun, especially when you crash.
8. Think about retirement
If work is the only thing you do, then what happens if you lose your job or if your business fails? Sometimes, it is difficult to put work back in its box at a time of austerity, but I try to think this way: for most people there will be gaps in employment. What do you do then? And what about when you retire? Sure, you may well carry on working in a part-time capacity, which I think is a good thing, but you will need other interests in life when work becomes less important.
9. Reasonable working style
One way to avoid being incessantly available is to make it clear to your colleagues that you will reply to emails within 24 or 48 hours. You need to make it clear that you’re not endlessly available for work queries outside working hours. Admittedly, that’s easier said than done.
10. Rely on your own intuition
You really need to find your own work-life balance, probably with the help of others. The important thing is to ignore the shoulds – the shoulds that comes from other people or from you internalising others’ mindsets.