City workers

With most people taking their much-deserved summer holiday break, you may find you’re either returning to work feeling fully refreshed or dreading the thought and telling yourself things have to change. If you’re in the latter camp, you’ll be trying to figure out how to stop working long hours and weekends, or reading emails late at night. You’ll be wanting to make time for exercise and eating healthier, or for spending time with your partner and family, or perhaps time just for you. Reducing stress will doubtless be key.

The way you deal with your situation will either exacerbate things or help you achieve a good work-life balance. One of the first things to do is learn how to say no. You may believe you have no choice, but if you really think about it, you do. It’s not about flat refusal, but saying no in a more empowered way. Here are some options:

  • Negotiate deadlines
  • Leave the office one day a week at 5.30pm
  • Work from home occasionally

What’s stopping you? If you answer this question honestly, the answer is the real contributing factor to your work-life balance. 

When we step back and don’t proactively manage ourselves, our work-life balance gets out of kilter and stress can become chronic. Human energy is the most critical resource we have, and it diminishes both with over-use and under-use. Energy expenditure must be balanced with intermittent energy renewal. 

Some new workplace practices are increasingly being utilised to proactively manage stress and improve work life balance. These include:

  • Taking recovery breaks every 90 to 120 minutes
  • Increasing your capability to think clearer and rehydrate the brain - perhaps by cutting back on caffeine and increasing water intake 
  • Eating slow-release energy food 
  • Limiting meetings to 30 minutes 

There are four things I’d like you to ask yourself. What could you do to maximise your energy? What are your barriers? What are three ways you could overcome these? What will you choose to do differently?

By choosing just one step and being in action consistently over 30 days you’ll develop a new habit. Before you know it be on the path to less stress and better work-life balance. 

Jennifer Baker is director of Baker Coaching