Work-life balance

Having a healthy balance between your life inside and outside work is important for your health and your happiness. Achieving balance isn’t always easy. But it can be done. 

By looking at the demands on your life, managing your time and making changes to how you work, you can achieve work-life balance.

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Getting a healthy work-life balance

Use this action plan to help you establish a realistic plan for a getting a better work-life balance.

  • Identify conflicts in your life

    Identify conflicts in your home and work life. 

    Start by looking at how you spend your time at home and at work. First, identify the aspects of your life that are important or non-negotiable. Add in things that aren’t vital but which you want to make time for. Finally, note what you’d be prepared to give up. 

    Then, look at any conflict in your week. Do you often miss your gym class because you’re stuck working late? Or do you have caring responsibilities that leave you exhausted at work? These points of conflict are different for everyone, so tracking them will help you identify changes you need to make.

    As you map out your time commitments and the conflicts they create, you’ll start to see a picture of how your work-life balance looks. If you have only a few conflicts, you may just need to give up some of the things you don’t need to do and manage your time to accommodate the things you do. But if you have lots of conflicts, it’s worth considering whether there may be a flexible working option that might work for you.

  • Manage your time better

    If you don’t get into the habit of planning, it’s hard to avoid becoming over-stretched. Learn to better manage your time at work and at home to reduce issues from home spilling over into your work, and vice versa. Try some of these tips:

    Create a plan. Make a plan for the following day before you leave work every evening or plan your day each morning. Then try to stick to your plan as much as you can. This’ll help you stay on track and means you’re less likely to let things slip your mind. 

    Give yourself a time limit. Give each task a time limit. You can even set a timer if you think you’ll overlook this. This will stop work from spreading into the time you’ve set aside for other activities. And it means you’re less likely to get stuck working late.

    Take a break. Allow yourself regular but short breaks to stay focused. Working in 20 minute bursts with five minute breaks can often help you stay on track. 

    Minimise multi-tasking. Trying to manage too many things at once can take longer than handling one task at a time. Focus on one thing at a time. Avoid checking your emails or taking on anything else while you’re doing it.

    Practice saying ‘no’. If you feel you can never say ‘no’ to extra work or family responsibilities, it can leave you feeling stressed and make you less productive. Try to push back on extra tasks when you’re already busy. And if you can’t refuse, ask for extended deadlines or for help from other family members. 

  • Stick to the boundaries you set yourself

    When you’ve identified some work-life boundaries, stick to them. 

    For example, if you’re working part time but your co-workers are contacting you with issues outside of your working hours, raise this with your manager or your colleagues. 

    You might also find it helps to change out of your work clothes when you finish for the day. This can help to focus your attention and take your mind away from thoughts about work.  

  • Take time to reflect

    Create time at home and at work to pause and reflect each day. 

    It can sometimes feel like we’re busier than we’ve ever been. But cramming too much into your professional and personal life could cause you to burn out. Taking some time to reflect will help recharge your batteries and focus your mind. For example, you could try going for regular, short walks during the day. 

  • Don't check your emails outside of work

    Avoid checking your emails when you’re not working.

    On average, we look at our phones 150 times a day, so it can be hard to avoid checking emails when you’re not at work. 

    Give yourself a cut-off point for checking emails each evening. Then stick to it.

  • Explore if flexible working would work for you

    Look at whether flexible working would work for you. 

    Flexible working is any type of work pattern other than your normal one. It can involve changes to how, where and when you work. And for some of us, it can be the best way to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Depending on how you approach flexible working, it could help you spend more time with your children, avoid rush-hour commutes or give you the time you need for sports or other hobbies.

    For some people, it can be the best way to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Ask yourself some questions before you decide if it’s right for you.

    • Can you do your work away from your workplace?
    • Are there certain times of the day when you work best?
    • Are there some tasks you can do more efficiently if you’re not interrupted? 
    • Do you like working by yourself?
    • Can you motivate yourself when you’re not in your working environment?
    • Do you like keeping your work and home life separate?
    • Can you work with co-workers and customers through email, video-conferencing or over the phone?
    • Do you need to work with other people to get your job done?

    If it seems right for you, ask your manager if you can work flexibly. To improve your chances of being approved, read about how to request flexible working

Next steps

Making a plan will help you better manage your work-life balance. Use our actions to set up your own to-do list to help you do this.