How To Acheive a Good Work Life Balance *

-*This post is in collaboration with CT Shirts-

How to achieve a good work-life balance?

With almost a third of UK workers feeling that they have a poor work-life balance, it’s becoming an important subject that needs to be talked about more openly. Not only does it affect our relationships and home life happiness, but it can also take its toll on our mental health. Believe me, my last job nearly pushed me over the edge and that was only a part time job. Because I was so unhappy working there, it was making me so miserable at home and affecting my relationship with my loved ones. This post which is in collaboration with CT Shirts who sell men's white shirts is all about the best way to manage a good work-life balance and also why we should maybe take some tips from other countries.

The current situation:

According to many studies it appears that the majority of working adults in the UK are overworked. Maintaining a healthy balance between home and work life seems to become more difficult as we get older, with statistics showing that the younger the employee, the less likely they are to identify work-life balance as an important part of their job. The task of juggling a family alongside a job is also difficult for many to manage with statistics revealing that 75% of working parents suffer with stress and anxiety as a result of their poor work-life balance management. It seems that many people put their career before anything else and strive to succeed and there's nothing wrong with that. But you should always give yourself some time to just switch off from work and focus on something you want to do and not what you need to do.
Although some businesses aim to operate at maximum capacity, this can take its toll. Research found that as a person’s weekly hours increase, so do their feelings of unhappiness due to being and feeling overworked. Of course, this is no surprise. Even for those who don’t work long hours, there is still the issue of ‘switching off’ and disconnecting from what’s happened at the office. In fact, one third of European workers said that a bad day at work affected their personal life and as I've mentioned at the beginning of this post, I totally know where they are coming from.
As we work more, we find that we have less time to spend with those we love, less time to focus on accomplishing our goals that aren’t work-related and less time to pursue our hobbies and dreams. But, many of us feel as though there’s nothing we can do about it.

How do people manage in other countries?

In comparison to our western European counterparts, Britain has the worst work-life balance as expected. So what can we learn from our foreign neighbours?
It seems as though workers in other countries have more free time to spend outside of work. In Belgium, employees have an average of 8.6 hours of free time per day compared to their 7.4-hour work days, and Netherlands are enjoying the shortest working week at only 30.3 hours. Denmark only spend 6.6 hours at work each day with 8.8 hours each day to spend how they wish, and Austrians are encouraged to start the weekend early with 3pm finishes implemented around the country. How great is that? Many Germans are able to relax on a Sunday too, as stores are regulated so that they close on Sundays. All of these extra hours add up it seems, with Britons working 325 hours more per year than workers in Germany. I honestly think the UK keeps the shops open on a Sunday just because of the how we panic if a shop is closed for a day or closes early? If you think how we are when shops are closed for Christmas Day or when they close early on a Bank Holiday... everybody freaks out just in case they run out of milk or bread for a day haha.
Unlike UK workers who often work with only half an hour to an hour break per day, foreign employees are encouraged to take multiple breaks throughout the day which I definitely think should be brought in over here, especially if we are working more hours per week overall compared to other countries. The Spanish are famous for their midday siestas which began as an effort to sleep through the hottest period of the day in warmer climates. Although new laws mean that shops have to remain open without a break for naps, some workers still follow the siesta tradition. Or, they take long coffee and lunch breaks with colleagues — something that is widely accepted by employers. Finland also take on the approach that long breaks are good for everyone, and their workers enjoy extra-long lunch breaks that are one to two hours long! If you visited Sweden on business, you’d probably be invited to join them for ‘fika’ — this is a late morning coffee that offices pause to enjoy at around 11am.
Other regulations that help maintain a healthy work-life balance include: - Belgians are able to take a full month off work to coincide with school breaks - Spanish workers have a holiday allowance of 30 days - France introduced a law in 2017 that gave workers the ‘right to disconnect’ from after-work emails - Swedish workers enjoy 16 months of paid family leave

What can we do?

Although we can’t change the regulations of our workplace, there are some things that we can do to help manage our work-life balance.
Enquire with your employer about splitting up your break. Research has proven that taking regular breaks can improve your productivity, and it therefore could be something that they will support. Split your hour break up into half an hour and two 15-minute breaks to decrease the amount of time spent at your desk or on your feet at one time. Get some fresh air or spend time talking to family on the phone, taking a small action like this could reduce your stress levels by a huge amount.
A long commute can lead to stress and depression according to one study which is why I could never put up with commuting a long distance to work personally. This is one reason to propose flexi-time at your office, where you can skip the traffic at each side of your day and do something more productive. Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone. You could make your commute feel more productive though, by listening to a podcast or audio book that can reduce the stress of rush-hour traffic. Alternatively, going to a gym class near to your work can mean that you miss the bulk of the busy traffic and allows you to fit some exercise into your day as well!
Although it can be difficult, restrict yourself on checking emails when you’ve finished work unless you're waiting for a super important email but the usual daily emails can wait until the next work day. Think of the long-term issues that mixing home and work life can have and aim to check your emails only for ten minutes on an evening instead of an hour. This is the same for working overtime, unless entirely necessary, make sure you are sticking to the number of hours that you’re contracted to. This can not only affect your mental health but can lead to employers expecting this behaviour at all times and pushing their luck.
Make sure you’re using your annual holidays to recharge and spend time with family. We’re all guilty of using our holidays to run errands or do something that we’ve been putting off, but this isn’t always helpful for our work-life balance. Although we need to do this now and then, annual leave should be used to recuperate, relax and enjoy time away from the office so try to focus on this. Try booking a holiday or an exciting day trip somewhere so that whilst you're in the office you have something to look forward to.
The current situation is not great for UK workers. But, there are some small changes that you can make. From splitting up your break to making the most of your holidays, being conscious of finding a good split between the office and spare time is the first step to improving your work-life balance.
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1 comment

  1. I never knew that other countries did more to help their workers achieve a work-life balance! I think that's so important!
    Chloe X