Learning how to manage your time is one of the most useful lessons you may ever learn. It is the gateway to leaving work when you want to, not being late for a friend’s wedding and making everything that little bit less stressful.
In a world where it is expected that you’re contactable 24 hours a day, smart phones can easily be seen as the devil of a work life balance. How can you achieve a balance if you’re getting emails at 9 o’clock at night whilst out for dinner with your best mate? I however see this advance in technology as my saviour at work.
I’m a big believer in spreading my working day beyond the standard 9-5. Some would argue that this makes me a workaholic, but for me it means I can do so much more with my time and therefore have what I consider to be a good work life balance. Being able to access my emails, our server, skype, and the ever useful whatsapp at all times of the day means that I can deal with messages and issues then and there. Things don’t have time to escalate and I can be in complete control allowing me to plan in all the fun things I want to do too.
If I were to only deal with work between the hours of 9-5, I would feel constant pressure to get everything done before I walk out the door, moreover there would be days it would not be possible for me to leave at all!
Checking through my emails whilst watching Downton Abbey on a Sunday night doesn’t take any effort at all, barely feels like work and means that ironically the Sunday night fear is removed. It also means I can ease myself into the swing of things on a Monday morning, have a catch up with colleagues and generally start the week in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Figuring out the best time of day for you also helps. Nobody works in the same way and finding out what works for you will again help to make things a little less stressful. What works well for me, is responding to emails in the morning and document/presentation writing in the evening. I know if I try to write a creative document at 3pm in the afternoon, I will struggle just getting beyond one sentence no matter how much sugar I have had! I am simply not creative at that time of the day! If you know how you work and when you work well, you can plan your day around that.
I might work longer hours than some, but by structuring my day a little differently, I have more time to do things I enjoy and therefore have a good balance between work and life.