It’s funny how many sayings stick but when you think about them, they’re back to front. Last year, many of us said we were ‘working from home’ when Covid-19 struck, when in fact our home quickly became our workplace.
Where once working from home was a benefit, it had become, for many, a negative. David Sipress, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, summed it up with his drawing of a man calling out to his wife from his home office, asking, “I can’t remember—do I work at home or do I live at work?” The lines have become blurred and where perhaps once we could separate the two, now it is increasingly more difficult to switch off from emails or work tasks. This blurring of lines is having a detrimental impact on that other work-related saying ‘work-life balance’ that we strive so hard to achieve. But, think about it for a moment, shouldn’t the saying actually be ‘life-work balance’? Yes, you may love your job, you may be fulfilled by your work but still, life should come first. If you make space for your downtime, fueling it with goodness and happiness then, surely, you’ll be the best version you can be at work, for your friends, your family, and in all facets of your life. Creating a good life-work balance is crucial for your well-being and living a soulful life.
Whether you work for a company or you’re running your home, the secret to a successful life-work balance may seem evasive but it really isn’t so hard, it just takes planning, practice and perseverance. Below are 5 simple tips that will help you achieve the balance you so deserve.
Schedule “me time”
Mo Gawdat, Rituals happiness ambassador, talks about the importance of scheduling “me time” or “Mo time” as he calls it. Perhaps you love walking, you’re enjoying a new book and want to read a chapter, or drawing brings you joy, whatever it is, schedule an hour of this soulful time each day to spend by yourself doing something you love. If it’s an activity that is good for body, mind and soul like yoga, then even better!
Reserving this time for you, and only you, allows you to feed your soul and recharge, so you can be the best you can be for yourself and others the rest of the time. Put “me time” in your calendar and make sure that work doesn’t seep into that hour.
Saying “no” can be really hard. But, saying “yes” to everyone and everything will put unnecessary pressure on you. The key to life-work balance is to make a daily schedule and be strict with yourself and others so you stick to it.
Block out your “me time”, then put a schedule into your life and work calendars so people know when you are and are not available. At work, schedule concentration moments, so people know when you’re doing deep work and really can’t be disturbed. If you have a family dinner make sure that colleagues know you’re busy. If you are treating yourself to a soak in the tub, let your family know you’re unavailable for the next 45 minutes. Communication is key!
Don’t try to multi-task by replying to messages during your down time—it’s important to be present when you’re with family and friends. If this happens a lot, you could try blocking 15 minutes each evening and weekend to address any emergencies that may arise, but chances are most things can wait until the next work day.
Get to know your natural rhythms
Think about whether you’re a morning person or a night owl. Do you deal better with creative work or bigger projects that require concentration first thing and find you only have brainpower for emails and simple admin after lunch? Take time to think about your energy levels from morning to night and try to factor that in when planning your day. Of course, we can’t do exactly what we want, when we want all the time but creating life and work schedules that are mindful of your natural rhythms will help things feel that bit easier.
Work smarter (not harder)
We’ve all been there, you sit down at your desk to do a quick task - be it a presentation for work or sorting your household bills - but three hours and a good dose of procrastination later and you still haven’t completed it.
If you tend to stay late at work a lot, ask yourself: am I putting too much focus on how much time I spend at work, rather than the results I achieve? Working hard and going over and above for a company is one thing, but letting work pile up because you’re working hard but not smart is another. Here are a few efficiency tips to try:
- Keep your to-do list for each work day manageable. If you never tick everything off then you’re probably being too optimistic and just setting yourself up to fail.
- Ensure meetings are productive: make an agenda and stick to it.
- End each day by thinking ahead, get your to-do list written and tidy your desk so you can jump straight into work come the morning.
It’s also well worth getting really clear with yourself, your boss or your leadership team about what deadlines you have, what your targets and goals are, what they expect from you and what you expect from yourself. This will help you to work more efficiently throughout the year.
Create a work space you love
A work space you love will help to keep you motivated. Try to limit anything that might distract you and, if you’re working from home, ensure your life and work (or life admin!) don’t merge too much. It’s hard working where you live, but if you can manage to create a small space that is designated to work and life admin then you can physically leave that space when you’re done.
Utilise the power of scent to keep your motivation levels high, keep The Ritual of Holi Happifying Body Mist with its revitalising peach blossom on your desk and spritz it when you need a boost. Once you have finished working, change the scent in your home to something relaxing like The Ritual of Jing , turn off the bright lights and create a calming ambiance with candles.