A Work Life Balance: What Should It Look Like?

If Connor and I are arguing, 99% of the time it’s about work life balance. It’s been a learning curve for both of us in different ways. For Connor, he really loves his work and would spend every waking minute working if he could, and for me it’s about not letting the stresses of work seep into my ‘time off’. Of course, when you’re self employed especially, finding a work life balance isn’t always black and white, and I say it’s always a work in progress. That being said, over the past few months we’ve implemented a few loose rules, to help us find a better balance between work and play.

Set working hours.

This is so hard to do when you’re self employed, but setting working hours is the first step to sorting your work life balance out. Now, that’s not to say they have to be hard and fast, there will be times when my meetings run late, or I need to spend a Saturday morning shooting blog photos because the weather’s been crap, and sometimes Con will have a deadline that means he needs to work through the weekend, but for the most part we’re trying to implement a 9-5 schedule. If anything, I find I’m wasting less time so I can finish by 5, and my mood and energy levels throughout the week are much better for having time to myself on weeknights.

No emails, unless you’re prepared to answer them.

Both of us are guilty of checking our inboxes first thing in the morning, on a coffee break, in the car, Connor even had his push notifications onto his watch – there was no escaping the chain of the inbox. Aside from the fact it’s not healthy to be thinking about work 24/7, things would come in and then they’d be niggling in the back of my mind until I dealt with them. It’s never anything urgent, but it was sticking in my mind nonetheless, hampering my ability to shut off from work. Now, my rule is I don’t read emails outside of my ‘working hours’, and even then, I only read them when I have time to deal with them. I’m more productive during the day because I’m not constantly being reactive to emails coming in, and my work isn’t suffering for the restriction.

Say no more.

Last year I was running myself ragged, because I felt like I had to say yes to every opportunity. Sure, sometimes I feel a twinge of sadness about missing out on a press show, turning down a new social media client, or picking up the phone on someone rather than heading out to see them, but by being a bit more selective with the opportunities I say yes too, I’m much happier and less stressed.

Be more mindful.

Mindfulness is something I’ve worked hard over the last year to bring into my personal life, and in the last month I’ve been trying to apply a more mindful approach to my work too. Instead of spending my working hours worrying about what needs doing, I’m focusing on one task at a time, getting it done quicker, and getting more done.

Create a to do list at the end of the day.

Before I shut my laptop down at the end of the working day, I make a to do list for the next day. It stops me spending the evening pondering what needs doing and means I can really shut off when I shut down.

Don’t write off Monday to Friday as work days.

If you’re only living for the weekends the week is going to be so much harder. I make time in the week for fun stuff too, dinner dates, coffee catch ups with friends, a new book and a hot bath. Take your lunch break and go for a walk, try a new recipe book for dinner, stop at a scenic viewpoint on your way home. Don’t fall into the trap of doing nothing but work and chores all week.

Do you have any tips for creating a work life balance?