Work has always been an incredibly important part of my life. It’s never been just a job or a means to an end for me but more of an extension of my passion and interests that I happen to earn a living from. I’ve always loved work and think it’s incredibly important to enjoy what you do for the majority of your working hours so most things I do are a mix of business and pleasure. The only trouble with this attitude is your work-life balance can become a little unhealthy.
Working long hours and neglecting other aspects of your life will ultimately make you feel unhappy about the amount of time you devote to work and with all the other pressures we face it can be damaging to your mental wellbeing.
Stop feeling guilty
If the sun is shining and we’re on top of everything I often suggest an early finish. It may just be leaving the office an hour earlier but that gives you the free time to do something you wouldn’t normally do in the week. I often find the fresh air walking our dog Blue can change your perspective on a problem or give you a fresh idea for a client. Now I don’t feel so guilty after all!
I used to spend far too much time at my desk, usually working 12-hour days in the office and answering emails all evening. I rarely stopped at the weekend and consequently after a few years I started to resent some aspects of work. I felt I had to be on call all the time but now I’ve learnt to work smarter and for not as long.
The best ideas don’t come from forced meetings on wet Wednesday afternoons but from creating space throughout the week. Oh and I say no to meetings these days if I can, especially if neither a client or ourselves will benefit.
Wellbeing is good for business
Healthy people are happier, more engaged and more productive. Many larger employers across the UK are now supporting the wellbeing of their biggest asset - their people.
According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. Their stats make you sit up and think. Mental ill health is responsible for 91 million working days lost every year and, according to their latest research, mental ill health costs UK employers an estimated £34.9 billion each year.
A couple of months ago, I attended Rosedale Training's two day MHFA course in Diss and found it absolutely fascinating. As an owner of a small business I like to think I am a caring and compassionate employer but I learnt so much more from this course. If your team isn’t happy around you, your business will suffer in some way so make time to address it.
Creating time for hobbies
Strangely since I started to adopt more of a focus to my working week, I’ve actually created a ton of extra time to do all the things I love outside of work.
I’m still guilty of eating at my desk and working too late but I’ve invested time and money in activities that help manage stress and extra busy periods. I now practise yoga every day and can’t imagine how I coped without it. I also make time to get in the pottery studio whenever I can. Seriously there isn’t much stress that slapping a huge lump of clay on the wheel doesn’t solve. It’s such a therapeutic and creative release and it’s certainly helped my work-life balance.