Written by Dave Cullen
According to a study conducted by the British Health and Safety Commission, the number of cases of work-related stress has doubled in the past ten years. Closer to home the news is no better, with an increase of almost 50% in the number of sick days taken annually in the Irish civil service since the 1980s.
Despite many businesses having to reduce staff levels considerably in the last few years, the demand for high productivity and growth in the workplace remains. Those employees left behind are forced to pick up the slack. As a result many employees now find themselves overwhelmed by an enlarged workload, which naturally reduces the quality and duration of their personal time. Increased urbanisation has also played its part by contributing to the ever expanding commuter belt, which only further diminishes available free time.
The ubiquity of communications technologies such as smartphones and email has meant that we can be continuously connected with the office at a moment’s notice. The boundaries separating work and home have become ever more convergent. Nowadays, leaving the office does not necessarily mean we have stopped working. As the encroachment of work into the sanctum of our homes continues, so too does the difficulty of achieving a healthy equilibrium.
Below is our list of 5 top tips to help you achieve a better work-life balance.
- Prioritise your daily tasks: This goes for both personal and work-related duties. Identify which activities are in most pressing need of your attention. Delegate those tasks that you feel overwhelmed by or simply can’t manage effectively on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your work colleagues and discuss your concerns about your workload with your boss. They may help you to find a solution.
- Learn to say ‘No’: If your default answer to most requests is ‘yes’, then this could explain why your workload has become so considerable. This is about respectfully saying ‘no’ to extra responsibilities outside of your normal remit. Don’t feel pressured to take on work you aren’t comfortable doing, particularly if it’s not your speciality.
- Explore your options: Enquire if your employer provides alternative scheduling arrangements such as job sharing, flexitime or telecommuting. These benefits will provide you with an opportunity to exert greater control over your own working hours. This will in turn help to reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Don’t bring work home with you: Internet access and laptop PCs can make finishing your days’ work at home an attractive prospect. However downtime is essential in helping to maintain your physical and emotional wellbeing. Working late or extra hours can result in reduced concentration and significantly impaired performance, where even the simplistic of tasks can become a challenge. Taking a break provides you with the means to de-stress, rejuvenate your mind and body and improve your productivity.
- Get plenty of exercise: Ensure that your new work-life balance routine includes time for physical activity. Exercise helps to increase mental alertness, reduce high blood pressure, enhance energy levels and boost your concentration.