Life is like a see-saw. On one end you’ve got work, on the other you’ve got play, and it seems like you can never strike the right balance between them. If you do, it’s a fleeting moment of calm before the chaos quickly descends (or ascends) again. Working hard is important – it will help you to better yourself, climb up the career ladder, earn more money and achieve your ambitions. But what’s the point in working so hard that you have absolutely no time to enjoy the fruits of your labour? Often the first step towards a great work-life balance is recognising that things aren’t working as they are and taking steps to prioritise the work-life equilibrium you crave. To start you off, we’ve made it easy for you and compiled some top tips to help you create a great work-life balance in your daily routine. 

Get a diary and plan your time

For many workaholics, the age-old excuse used is ‘time just got away from me.’ Leaving for the office at 7 am and not returning until 10 pm is not healthy, and while it’s admirable to be able to lose yourself so fully in your work, the long term effects of this routine are likely to include increased stress levels due to the lack of downtime! By getting a diary or journal and mapping out your day, you can make sure you’re dedicating the time you need towards your work, but you can schedule in regular breaks and downtime to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. You can supplement this by using your smartphone to set alarms to remind you to take a break, or if you’re someone who has trouble with procrastination, an alarm is a great way to remind you it’s time to get back to work!

Take advantage of flexible working

Many modern employers recognise that not all of their employees’ lifestyles and responsibilities will be exactly the same. To that end, flexible working policies have been introduced widely throughout UK businesses to give employees the freedom and, you guessed it, flexibility to have more say in the hours they work. Many people have hobbies and interests that happen within business hours, so working a strict 9-5 prevents them from taking part. For parents, flexible working hours may enable them to take their children to school or reduce childcare costs. Ultimately, taking advantage of something like this gives you more control over your time and, hopefully, enables you to dedicate more of it to things you love. It’s been proven that schemes like this increase employee wellness, satisfaction, retention and overall happiness, so if your place of work doesn’t have a policy yet, maybe suggest it to your HR department.

Set yourself a challenge outside of work

Generally, when transitioning from school to work, we replace our measure of achievement, changing from grades and exam results to salary increases, promotions and appraisals. But it’s when too much importance is placed on this one area of achievement that the work-life balance can shift too much towards work. If your life has turned into an endless merry-go-round of wake, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat, something has to change! When you were in school you didn’t just do maths and English, there was art, technology, IT, games and sports, music, so many different things to try and enjoy that everyone could find something they were interested in. How terrible would school have been without all that? By extension, why live your life like that? Find something you love to do and make time for it and you will feel enriched and renewed outside of work.

Don’t waste your annual leave

Every employer in the UK has to provide employees with paid holiday, so make sure you take it! While there might be an option to trade in your holiday days for money unless you’re in real financial need you need to take your time off and enjoy it. Many UK adults report that one of the main things that contribute to feelings of depression or feeling low can be loneliness or social isolation. Use your annual leave to make time to see other friends with busy lives who might be missing you, or connecting with someone who you haven’t seen for a while. The rat race is busy and you’re on a mission to make your life the best it can be, but enjoy it with friends along the way and you’ll have a much better time of it!

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