How to find that balance of being a top performer at work without sacrificing your personal life.

Written by Sara Healy

The other day, a fellow mum told me: “I can’t understand how people managed to rear kids before when no one was working from home”. This comment speaks volumes about how much life has transformed in the last few years.

The pandemic had a profound impact on both employees and employers alike. We all discovered the world of remote working, flexible schedules, virtual classrooms, video conferencing, and the art of dressing only from the waist up for work. However, it also presented new challenges such as blurring the lines between personal and professional life, making it harder to maintain a healthy balance between the two.

Now that the world has begun to turn once again, many of us are slowly returning to the office, at least part-time. The questions raised during the pandemic still linger and can cause anxiety and stress.

Working remotely has its benefits, such as keeping a cleaner home, more flexibility with childcare, and less time spent commuting. However, it also means that the line between work and personal life can easily become blurred. Conversely, working in an office can help to maintain that distinction, though it may require sacrificing some personal time.

Fortunately, there are various ways in which you can take care of yourself without sacrificing your work performance or your precious time away from work. These strategies apply whether you predominantly work from home, in the office, or a combination of both.

Forget about perfection When Aiming for Balance

Let’s start with a gentle reminder before we delve into some tips. It’s easy to put immense pressure on ourselves to always perform at our best. However, it’s important to remember that striving for balance is not a competition that we need to win, but rather a process that we can enjoy. It may require some effort and take time to achieve, but it’s worth it in the long run.

The same principle applies in the workplace. While we all want to do our best, it’s crucial to acknowledge that we’re only human and mistakes happen. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, take a moment to reflect on why it happened and learn from the situation. This will equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to prevent similar issues in the future.

Make, and follow, your own rules

This is especially relevant for individuals who enjoy a more fluid schedule. As we have witnessed an increase in flexible work arrangements, thanks in large part to the impact of Covid-19, the ability to structure one’s workday in a way that accommodates personal life is certainly a welcomed change. However, it is important to recognize that with this newfound flexibility comes the potential challenge of blurring the lines between work and personal life. If you have the opportunity to dictate your own schedule, take advantage of this privilege but ensure that you are the first to adhere to the boundaries you have established, in order to maintain a healthy separation between the various aspects of your life. 

Prioritise your physical and mental health

The wisdom of the ancient Romans rings true: “Mens sana in corpore sano” – a sound mind in a sound body. It is essential not to overlook the significance of taking care of both your physical and mental health. Dedicate some time to activities that you enjoy, whether it’s a stroll in the park, some yoga, or a friendly game of football. The biggest mistake is to start at the gym without following through, so if you make a commitment, do your best to stick to it.

You will also be glad to know that there are numerous small actions you can take to boost your physical health without turning into a gym enthusiast. Improving your diet, getting enough sleep, and disconnecting from your phone before bedtime can all make a difference. Every little effort counts and every little step moves you in the right direction.

Say “no”

Setting boundaries and being aware of what’s achievable is crucial in managing your time effectively. Learning to say “no” is a part of this, but it’s not always easy. To make things easier, try using the “Eisenhower matrix.” This approach helps you determine what is urgent and important, and what isn’t. Prioritise tasks that are both urgent and important, delegate or schedule the rest for later, and remove anything that is not urgent or important. This will help you stay organised, share the workload when necessary, and ultimately feel more productive and satisfied with your work. 

Remember, it’s not always about doing everything; it’s about doing the right things at the right time.

Use your time wisely, and when you leave, leave. 

Mindfulness and self-care are crucial when it comes to the workplace, as this is where we spend a significant amount of our time. While no one is going to monitor your work hours or break times, it’s essential to be your own advocate and ensure you take breaks when needed.

Studies have shown that working longer hours can actually decrease efficiency, so it’s vital to be organised and plan out your day. Set realistic goals and prioritise tasks to help you stay on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Remember that it’s okay to say no and delegate tasks when necessary.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself throughout the day, whether it’s chatting with a colleague or enjoying a nice lunch. And when the workday ends, make a conscious effort to leave work behind and focus on your personal life. By separating work and life, you’ll be able to flourish in both areas.

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential. The pandemic has brought new challenges and opportunities to work remotely, but it has also blurred the line between work and personal life. By implementing some of these simple strategies, namely prioritising physical and mental health, setting boundaries, and using time wisely, it is possible to achieve a healthy balance without sacrificing performance at work or personal time. 

Remember, balance is not about perfection, but rather a process that can be enjoyed. By being mindful and taking care of ourselves, we can achieve success and fulfilment in both our personal and professional lives.

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