A lot has been said lately about out work-life balance and its impact on our wellbeing. A recent study in New Zealand found a four day week led to lower stress levels and higher productivity. Let’s be blunt: this option (in the UK it would be called “part-time”) is not an option for most of us.
Here are some ideas if you feel that work is possibly taking over too much:
- Adjust your commute
For those of us who work in the city, we could get off the tube one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. And on the way home, unwind a little by walking to the next stop. This bit of time at the start and the end of the day could allow you to prepare yourself for the day and unwind at the end. The little bit of exercise will do you good as well.
- What are you doing on your commute?
Are you checking your phone? What about reading a novel instead? Or listening to a podcast? Commuting is never pleasant. But doing something that is aimed at calming you down before and after work sets you up for a better day at work and a better evening at home.
- Now, about that phone
I recommend removing your work email account from our personal phones. Yes, I know for some this seems ridiculous and impossible. I hear that in my counselling room all the time. But once we really think about it, does Dave in Sales really need to be emailing me at 10 at night? No, he does not. It can wait till the morning. If this idea is too outlandish for you, try turning off the notifications once you leave the office. At least it will not beep or flash every time an email arrives. If the phone is a work phone, you might need to negotiate with the office about reasonable expectations. But set limits as to how often work can intrude in your private life. For optimal mental health, we need to be able to disconnect from work.
- Work from home?
This is simply not possible for all of us. But have you considered it? Would working from home allow you to do the school run/walk once a week and spend some quality time with the kids? Will it give you an extra hour in the morning and evening to plant and maintain a veggie patch? Will it allow you to have a leisurely breakfast with your partner?
- Is something missing?
This is the big one. It might be time to ask yourself the following question: is work giving me meaning and fulfilling emotional needs that I really should be getting and fulfilling at home and in my private life?
If the answer is “yes,” then we need to talk.