The Importance Of Striking A Work/Life Balance

I’ve done it again. Vowed that I would get back on that blogging wagon once and for all… And then fallen straight back off it *face palm*. Not that I’m condoning my behaviour, but trying to run a blog, maintain a social life, go to the gym and hold down a full time job, really is quite difficult. It doesn’t leave much time to play with, and it seems recently that work has become very busy and demanding of my time. Gone are the days where I would log off and leave the office at 5pm, as I’m now often sat there typing out emails well past 7pm without even realising the time. I’ve missed that gym class that I’d woken up early to book a space on early last week. I’ve completely forgotten all about dinner, and now don’t even really fancy it. I’m over-tired, but my brain is working at 100mph and I doubt I’m actually going to be able to zone out when I get home anyway, so I might as well just do another half an hour… I’m sure that a lot of you can relate. We’re all busy. We have all demanding careers, or are hard-working parents, (or both!) But where do you draw the line between work and play? When have you officially let work take over your life? How do you strike a healthy work/life balance?

“Gone are the days where I would log off and leave the office at 5pm”

The ridiculous thing is that we all know that the work is going to be there in the morning when you arrive at your desk. Your job is never done. There are always email conversations to reply to. Reports to pull. Stats to analyse. Voicemails to return. They’re not going anywhere, so does it really matter if you leave them for a few hours and attend to them the next day? Is the world really going to stop? The obvious answer is, of course not. I for one have become very bad at prioritising. Everything to me is a priority and should have been done yesterday. I hate the thought of letting someone down, or not doing something to the best of my ability, which I know is crazy. I suppose it’s not the most unattractive quality, but it’s definitely damaging my soul by putting so much pressure on myself, and if I’m honest I don’t think it actually makes me any better at my job.

I know in myself that I perform better when I’ve actually dragged myself away from my desk and had a lunch break. I feel guilty for it, even though I’m entitled to it, but I feel as if I’m wasting time as I have so much to do. Many of my colleagues are the same, yet I notice we’re all in a better mood after a well-deserved break from the screen. I’m now making a conscious effort to eat my lunch away from my desk every day, even if it’s for 20 minutes, so that I feel more productive and recharged when I sit back down in front of my screen. Working in social media is a very fast-paced industry and your brain needs to be highly engaged at all times. You constantly need to be able to think fast, out of the box, and be able to produce creative content that will resonate well with your target audience. I absolutely love it, but it’s hard work.

work/life balance

As much as I love my job and the fact that I’m building a blossoming career, I also love blogging, eating out, going to the gym, seeing my friends, reading and chilling in front of Netflix. It just seems that the work/life scales seem to tip in favour of the former and have been for a while, meaning that I don’t have a lot of time for the other things in life that I enjoy just as much. I have no one to blame but myself. I’m very grateful for a supportive and encouraging team and there’s no one breathing down my neck, telling me I have to stay until the office until silly o’clock. It’s all my own doing, and something that I need to address. Living to work is not right. Working to live is.

No one ever ends up on their death bed wishing they had put extra hours in at the office. No one. I don’t want to look back and scorn myself for having missed out on some potentially incredible life experiences because I was too tired from the working week just gone, and just wanted to sleep at the weekend. We don’t exist to work. That’s not what we were put on this planet to do.  Yes, we have to do it to put bread on the table and keep a roof over our head, but the way we work now is really not very natural.

“We don’t exist to work. That’s not what we were put on this planet to do”

I personally think that working full time (that is, over 40 hours per week) is unhealthy. It’s crazy to think that we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do our friends and family. Luckily I work with a great bunch of people (and I hope you do too) but that just doesn’t seem right to me. It’s probably never going to happen, but I’d love to see our working week reduced to 4 days so that we can appreciate an extra day with our loved ones, or just to spend it recharging. I genuinely believe we would all perform better in our roles, as we would learn to manage our time more efficiently and be an overall happier working society.

Richard Branson has absolute nailed this. He gives his colleagues unlimited holiday, whenever they want. It sounds insane and I’m sure it has its terms and conditions, but in short that’s what he offers. Think about it though. Would that make you work more productively in the office? Absolutely it would. If your boss is paying you a full salary and letting you experience everything you want to in life, it’s going to entice you to work that extra bit harder in the office as you’ll feel like you actually want to produce good results for him or her – not because you have to. I think it’s genius. It’s a win/win for all.

work/life balance

Of course not all companies can operate in this way, which is a shame but understandable, however I believe that we should be making major changes to the way we work. Stress, depression and exhaustion levels are sky high and a lot of cases can be linked directly to our jobs. If your health isn’t enough to make you want to reassess your work/life balance, then I really don’t know what is. You only have one life. And it’s short. Every second that ticks by, you are never getting that back. That email can wait until tomorrow, so go and have dinner with your other half. Ask about their day. Laugh over a glass of wine. Go and see a film with your best friend. Invite your tribe over and make mojitos. Talk about work for a short period of time, then reminisce together and just enjoy each other’s company.

Log out at 5pm and don’t feel guilty about it. It doesn’t make you any less hard-working, it just shows that you have other passions in life. There is nothing alluring about someone who can’t seem to have a conversation about anything other than work, or have zero hobbies. You’ve done your hours, so go and enjoy your evening. It’s just work. There are far more important things in life. Work hard, play hard. Just maybe play that little bit harder.


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