What no one tells you about work life balance
Having been described as an out and out entrepreneur I like to think that one of my strongest traits is my ability to get stuff done. The utter belief that no matter what, I will succeed at whatever I do.
It feels very masculine when I think about it and my urge to ensure I make things happen. Sometimes it even becomes this energy within me that I can’t seem to switch off very easily and it boils within me. Like an urge to move, to grow, to do something, anything. More recently it has become uncomfortable and unwanted.
I often wonder where this desire to do more, be more, have more and create more came from. If it has been instilled within me from a young age. Watching my mother work so hard and never really stop, in fact she still is always ‘doing’. Or perhaps if it has been projected onto me through the media I consume, the entrepreneurs I watch and follow or my own version of who I should be and my identity as a person.
I recently cleared my work schedule, delegated most of my tasks and roles to my team members and created so much space within my dairy to be with my kids and spend more time just living instead of working. I decided the specific roles I wanted to keep doing within my business and gave the rest of my workload to my team.
In the run up to doing this I was so excited to have all of this space and time in my diary, but as soon as it came I found myself overflowing with these ideas and opportunities. Brimming at the seams I have found myself thinking up three or four new business ideas that I feel urged to take action on as soon as physically possible. I notice this recurring pattern of behaviour that has been on a loop for the last few years and I am now able to notice it and break it.
We often tell ourselves about who we are, and what we do as people, and then we live by this, often without questioning where it ever came from and if it really is what we want or our belief of what we ‘should’ do and who we ‘should’ be. It can lead us to burning out, trying to do too much, trying to be something we are not, forgetting to really tap into ourselves because we are constantly trying to please others around us and do it all.
We've been fed this ideal of success and what it takes to be successful, often thinking that we have to work really hard in order to be a success. The problem is though, that we can end up in this spiral of work, no rest, no play because we are constantly filling our minds with the things we have to do and sometimes we tell ourselves that we ‘have to do things’, we ‘have to be busy’.
Technology is so brilliant that we are at the end of a constant pinging of notifications that push us into action. This can leave us feeling that we are ‘on demand’ and lead to burn out or very little work life balance because it is all work and no balance.
It is so important to have a really stable work life balance, for your wellbeing and mental health it is essential. Many of my students I work with within my neuro-linguistic programming certification course, like myself, are working from home and have their kids at home, while some who don’t have children just struggle to switch off. So when do all of these seemingly inspiring ideas that come into our minds become unhealthy and at what point do we say no to ourselves, to others, to the constant stream of notifications or to the workload?
As a mum to 2 girls, I have found that the work life balance can be forever changing as things change in our lives, like hours changing around the school run. However, there are ways in which you can create boundaries and behaviours to make finding that work life balance easier.
Here are some simple ways we can make the changes needed to have the work life balance:
- Create cut off points and boundaries.
What time do you stop working? Are you actually stopping or are you constantly finding yourself dipping in and out of work all day? It can be so easy to lose yourself in work and not realise the time, or notice an email on your phone and get dragged back into work when doing things with family. Instead set yourself a cut off point. Times when you will stop working and focus purely on the family, or even on housework etc.
- Leave electronics alone!
It is so easy to get absorbed in our phones, even while watching TV in the evening we find ourselves checking messages and social media. It is an ingrained behaviour because you have done it so much now. So when you cut off, leave your phone in the office or switch it off so you are not tempted to check out notifications that may be about work.
- Silence those apps.
If you use your phone to read a book, or to communicate with family on an evening then silence your notification apps – such as emails, social media, work related apps etc. Even better, you can delete the apps altogether and while you are still tempted to pick up your phone you won’t have work notifications or apps to look through. If possible separate work and personal phones so that when you are working you use your work phone and when you are not working or away on holiday you can leave it in the office and use your personal phone.
- Ask yourself who you really are
When you find yourself getting inspiring ideas that you feel compelled to take action on, ask yourself who are you? Who are you really? Sometimes we get ideas that we feel compelled to take action on because we are excited about it and it will help us reach a goal or give us ann outcome we are looking for. However, in some cases it could also be your mind playing tricks on you, trying to force you to ‘work harder’ because this is how you are programmed to think. Really ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ “Is this something that will help me overall, with my life or just a distraction?’
These simple changes in your daily actions can make a huge difference to your work life balance., so next time you reach for your phone, begin getting excited about a new idea that will consume you, stop and think how much that will take away from your ultimate life and home and be curious about if this will really help you live more, or just become a spiral of working to live, and not living to work.