As technology continues to merge the lines between the workplace and our homes, finding the perfect balance between and work and life seems to be the holy grail of the modern age.
The idea that the two will ever be truly balanced is a fallacy. There will always be times when work will take precedence. The overall goal however is to achieve some form of tranquility, where the day job isn’t constantly squeezing the light out of your home life.
How to achieve this? Well there are no hard and fast rules, what works for someone may very well not work for others. Below however are a three steps we can all take to redress the balance away from work and in favor of life again.
Make Time For Sleep
Sleep. Remember that? It was that amazing rejuvenating thing we all used to do every night before we started taking our smartphones to bed with us.
We all instinctively know that good night’s rest is good for us. Fewer of us seem to realize exactly how damaging missing sleep can truly be. [Read more about everything sleep related here].
If you are consistently getting less than 7 hours sleep a night, and one third of Americans are, then you are chronically sleep deprived. Not only will your work performance be affected as a result, you are creating a ticking time bomb of health conditions for later life.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, stress, depression and even suicide. Those who sleep badly are more likely to succumb to colds and flus, become obese, develop diabetes, suffer from strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer.
The most important way to ensure a healthy work-life balance is to make certain the way you work isn’t interfering with your sleep cycles. If you must work in the evening, make sure you shut down at least an hour before bed. That means all screens. Yes, even your smartphone. Make your bed a sanctuary for sleep, leave your technology at the door.
Make Time For The Outside
Getting outside into daylight and nature regularly does amazing things for our mental health.
Even if you are in the midst of a project and having to work long hours, try as hard as you can to break out and see the wider world at least once every day.
You don’t have to overthink this, it could be something as simple as choosing to cycle to the office, or getting off the bus three or four stops early on your way home. If there is a park close to the office, why not detour through. Or better yet have your lunch there.
If it’s nice out why not take your work outside with you. If you’ve a meeting, instead of scheduling it in that stuffy boardroom, have it at the nice outdoor cafe down the road. Your client will probably be delighted.
Allowing your body to be exposed to daylight once will do amazing things for regulating the circadian rhythms that dictate how well you sleep. And we’ve already seen how important sleep is for your health. A win win.
Get Out Of Breath, Every Day
We’ve come a long way from our hunter gatherer forebears. We now lead a largely sedentary desk-based lifestyle and unfortunately our bodies and minds are not designed for it.
I’m sure you’ve heard sitting referred to as the new smoking, for very good reason. Our inactivity is slowly killing us all.
The solution, get out of breath and sweaty at least once a day, every day. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Go jogging, swimming or cycling. Play basketball, learn jujitsu or join an ultimate Frisbee team. Simply go to the park and do cartwheels or chase squirrels. What you do isn’t that important, just make sure you do enough of it to get your body moving.
One simple work-life hack is if you’re short on time, why not combine your daily exercise with socializing? Go jogging with a friend before work. Play squash with a buddy in the evening.
Or better yet, get all your friends together and take up a team sport like five-a-side soccer. This way you can combine your body’s need of exercise with your brain’s need to socialize.
Make A Daily Date To Meditate
Meditation is no longer the preserve of Buddhist monks and hippies. Meditation has gone mainstream and it’s time for you to get on board.
Sitting quietly observing your own thoughts for as little 15 minutes a day has been proven to do wonderful things for your mind. It reduces levels of anxiety and stress, it also makes us happier, healthier, more productive, tolerant and creative.
If you’ve a quiet meeting room at work, why not book it out and make a date to mediate during your lunch hour every day? And if you can’t find just 15 minutes a day to set aside to sit quietly in the corner, then your work-life balance truly is out of whack. It could be time to sit down, have a think and make some decisions.
Well, there you have it – four steps to achieving a better work-life balance. None of information above will likely come as a surprise to you but that’s because the big secret is – there’s no big secret to a healthy happy life.
Sleep more, exercise more, ensure you make time for yourself and every once in a while reset yourself with a good healthy dose of nature. Simple really!