When was the last time you took a lunch break? And we mean a proper lunch break. Not that ten-minute dash to Pret and back, followed by a bolted bowl of soup al desco.
When it comes to work-life balance, we seem to be a little...of. British people are reported to work the longest hours of any EU country (an average of 42.3 hours, versus the EU average of 40.3) and taking tiny rests somewhere between 12 and 2pm, (an average of 34 minutes), it’s probably not an experience you enjoy that often.
Given that statistics suggest that 56% of emigrants from the UK left the country for work-related reasons, you can see why we need to take action.
Which is why WH is all about the insights gathered by Martin Bjergegaard and Jordan Milne, start-up enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, in their debut book, title Winning Without Losing (Profile, £10.99).
Here's 10 of their tried-and-tested techniques for maintaining work-life balance – whilst having a successful career – to get you started.
Hello world, here you come.
10 Ways to Get More Work/Life Balance in 2019
1. Be clever about your daily activities
All of us can great increase our efficiency designing an effective plan of attack. For example, configure your email program to automatically place incoming emails into designated folders; use sharing systems such as Flick’r and Google docs; and organise your wardrobe. Improvisation is important but systematic thinking is an entrepreneur’s best friend.
2. Put yourself in a high-energy, inspiring environment
There’s a reason why successful entrepreneurs flock to spend time with groups of like-minded people; if you launch a start-up alone, you are lacking the support needed to create a thriving business.
Create momentum by networking with those who can spot the opportunities you miss, offer different skills and perspectives and help you identify the areas where you need help the most.
3. Take active meetings
Think walking, running or biking meetings. Our brain works best when our body is in motion. Plus, sharing an activity creates a connection between people and is an optimal starting point for mutual understanding.
4. Don’t try to get everything done
Many of us suffer from tick mark mentality and, from school, we’re accustomed to making a list of everything we have to do. However, only 1-3 of the items on any given list are WIGS – Wildly Important Goals. Make sure you know what yours are and, every morning, visualise how you’ll make a focused effort to get closer to them. The other items on the list? Things you work on when you need a break from reaching your WIGS.
5. Relax and let others contribute
There is no point being away from work if your mind never leaves the office. Surround yourself with people who you trust and who you can release control to, then make a clear distinction between something getting done and something getting done your way.
6. Protect your day
Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. The secret to fitting everything in? A simple 8-8-8 time management principle. You have eight hours in the day to work, eight to sleep; and eight for you. You just have to control those and not get caught in the slippery slope of time-wasting detours.
7. Do what you always wanted to do, right now
Living a ‘deferred life’ is putting off what you really want to do right now because you believe what you need to today is what’s expected of you. When making decisions that take you away from what you want to do, ask yourself ‘Will I enjoy the process?’. It’s about having both financial success and enjoying the ride.
8. Spend two hours thinking about your purpose in life
Why do you do what you do? To earn money, to make your parents proud, to prove you are good enough, or because imagine that’s what it looks like to be successful? Or because you truly love your project and the impact it has on you and others?
9. Write down what you waste your time doing
Review your habitual activities – the irritating ones that absorb most of your time – and put them in one of two buckets. If they are true time-wasters, bid them farewell; if they simply things you need to control, give yourself a fixed and dedicated amount of time to do the activity.
10. Take tomorrow off
This may seem impossible to you, because you simply have too much to do, but taking tomorrow off is an exercise in realising that most things aren’t as pressing as we think and that a little time away from the office isn’t the end of the world. Go do whatever gives you energy.
3 ways thinking like an athlete can help your work-life balance
Dan Roberts, founder and head coach at personal training and wellbeing company The Dan Roberts Group, shares his work-life balance secrets.
1. Be honest with yourself
Are you working too hard or too little? Ask friends and family. An honest assessment is the first step. An athlete has clear goals that are regularly reviewed by a coach – explaining what yours are to friends and family often gives the valuable feedback and accountability we need to make sure we are climbing the right ladder, in the most efficient way.
2. Find your “flow state”
In Sports Psychology, 'flow state' is when everything becomes easy – for example, when a tennis player hits a perfect serve and volley to win a point. The movement is perfect, but with little effort; perfect decisions are made that seemingly bypass the conscious brain.
You can get this in work, too: the times when you write a report in minutes rather than hours or do a presentation with ease - this is also flow state. It can be achieved through a controlled obsession, a hyper focus on the task at hand. When we focus at one thing at a time, it’s amazing what can happen.
3. Be prepared
Athletes live by routines. The body adapts quicker this way. The mind also prefers structure and that’s why some of the most successful entrepreneurs are precise about their time – they don't live ad-hoc lifestyles; they prepare, they have lists and they have clear objectives.
When we have more of a routine, we feel less overwhelmed and then work/life balance (whatever that means to you) is more easily achieved.