If there’s one thing you should promise yourself this year, it’s to stop working 60+ hour weeks or at least stop working more hours than you want to.
Remember how you felt at the end of last year? Tired, stressed, overwhelmed, flat and maybe even totally disinterested in everything? That’s no way to live.
Don’t let it happen again this year.
Whether you’re on holidays or heading back to work, it’s time to take a stand for your physical and mental health and your quality of life.
This year, follow these strategies to claw back your life when work seems ready to take over again.
Say no more often
That sounds easy but I know it’s not always easy to do. The thing about saying no is that it’s a skill you need to practice. For many of us it doesn’t come naturally. We feel guilty that we’re not doing as much as others seem to think we should. But remember this: only you know how much you can bear before it affects you. It’s your right to say no when you need to. We’ll talk more about this next week.
When your job is larger than life or suffers from scope creep, take a step back.
- How much of it can you do?
- How much should you do?
- How much needs your specific talent, skill, or authority to complete?
- Which parts could be done by someone else?
It makes sense to focus your energies on the parts of your work that need you and outsource those that don’t. This works especially well when you’re juggling deadlines and the pressure is building. You still have control over the whole process but now have time to properly concentrate and do the job well.
Sometimes getting out of the office is important and there are two reasons for that.
Firstly, when you’re in the office you’re visible. Not only are you open to interruption, but your sheer visibility can also lead to more tasks being thrown your way. When you feel work is taking up all your time, step out and work where you can get things done in peace.
Secondly, being flexible with your work hours and location gives you more opportunity to do the things you want in your personal life. Go out for lunch with your partner and enjoy each other’s company. You can work around it instead of cancelling. Life should be fun. Go out and get some.
Schedule the things that matter to you.
Family life and relationships suffer when work sucks up all your time. I’ve often heard my clients say that if they don’t put it in their diary, it won’t happen. Usually, they are talking about meetings, but the principle is the same for your private life.
Block out time to spend with your family or friends. Put your social bookings into your calendar so you can see them, and they aren’t double-booked by work. It might be something as simple as blocking out your weekends instead of working, or blocking out time to watch your child’s special presentation. It might even be a time for doing nothing except relaxing. Make no mistake – it’s important for you to do that. Put it in your diary. Put it in your calendar. Write it down. Do whatever you need to do but keep this time sacred!
Know what is important to you.
We all think we know what matters to us but often we don’t realise the truth of it until it’s too late.
- What are your values?
- What makes you feel good?
- What do you want more of?
- Who matters to you?
These are your priorities. Find a way to remember them when you’re busy. Put a photo on your desk, a slogan or special word on your wall. Design a set of questions to ask yourself before you accept a job. Always ask yourself, does what I’m about to do (or being asked to do) align with that matters to me? It’s not so much about benefits here as it is about staying true to yourself. Working on something that goes against your values is difficult. It takes you longer to complete and damages your self-respect.
One of my personal rituals that I complete in the first week of January each year is the Wheel of Life. It is designed to reflect on all the areas in your life and determine where you want to be so you can make empowered work-life balance choices to get there. This is a relatively easy process that can have lasting, positive impact on your life. Click here to download my Wheel of Life guide.
Don’t make the same mistakes you made last year. While you need to work to earn your income, it shouldn’t rule your life – and it won’t unless you let it.
Start the year off in the way you mean to continue but don’t be disappointed in yourself if you fall off the wagon sometimes. Changing your habits takes time but if you really want to do it, you can create your best year yet.