For a lot of people, it isn’t uncommon to get caught up in work and then wake up one day to realise – where has my life gone? There are moments in life when it’s been a lot like Groundhog Day: wake up, go to work, finish work, get stuck in traffic, cook dinner, eat and then sleep. Each day passes in the same blur as the day before, and the day before that… and the day before that. Then one day, you find you have a bit of time to yourself, and wonder where the last 6 months have gone.
There are a number of elements that lead to this situation – and a lot of it does come down to pride and dedication to your job. But sometimes you have to step back and remind yourself two very important things: ‘we only get one life’ and ‘what stories am I going to tell my grandchildren?’.
So how does one tip the scales back to being more balanced between work and life?
How efficient are you?
When your life is passing in a blur and you can only remember snippets of your day, how efficient have you actually been? Aside from the things you can remember, were the other parts of your day important or urgent tasks? If not, did you really need to do them? You may find that a good portion of your day has been wasted on trivial things because you simply needed something to fill in those small parts of your day, in which case that part would have probably been better spent getting some fresh air, stretching your legs, or simply planning out the rest of your day and revisiting your to-do list.
The 40-hour week (or for a lot of us, the 60+ hour week) has been the standard approach to working since the Industrial Revolution. Some countries have, in the last couple of years, introduced a 30-hour week, which has improved productivity, the economy, wellbeing, equality between men and women, and communities.
While many of us aren’t necessarily in a position to work a 30-hour week, we can increase our efficiency so that we don’t have to work overtime – or at least limit it. Increasing your efficiency means you will focus on the things you have to do and prevent the twiddling of your thumbs or a desire for distractions throughout your day.
Do you have a strong support network – in business and in life?
It’s not just about having the support network at home – which in itself is an important element. It’s about surrounding yourself with passionate and supportive people in all aspects of your life, from your friends, to your colleagues, and even to the businesses and people you work with – be they clients or suppliers.
The people with the best work-life balance have a strong support network they can depend on through the good times and the bad. Having passionate and supportive people around you who are interested in what you do and enjoy working with you can create a world of difference in maintaining a work-life balance. They are less likely to waste your time, and more likely to support you in achieving your end goal. Having a strategy for who you want to work with and how you want to work with them can define responsibilities and a mutual trust.
Can you delegate?
One of the biggest pitfalls those of us who are time-poor fall into is the desire to be on top of everything! By doing this, we often end up losing our work-life balance and spending more time than necessary on the things someone else could be doing.
Trust is a key element to delegating. If you have people around you who you trust and who you know have the capability to do a better job than you, sometimes it is worth the time you spend briefing them on it, so that you can focus on the other things that you are better at and have more time at the end of the day to spend away from work. If you struggle to delegate, sometimes it is worth starting small; perhaps by getting someone to write your monthly blog or newsletter draft.
All in all, having a plan and people who you can trust can give you back some of your time to do other important things, whether that be time spent with family and friends, or going for a road trip, or simply going to the gym. So what are you waiting for? Take back that time and jump on your next life adventure!