It’s a fast moving world and it’s likely that you take work home with you. It used to be a case of taking papers home to read or even a laptop. But now email, smartphones as well as laptops make it so difficult to get away from work.
There is always the temptation just to “make a quick check on things” when you are not at work. You can see it in all sorts of situations, not just at home but in pubs, restaurants, even at parties.
Whilst most people do take work home at some point often due to workload or simply through choice there is also a growing trend for people in management roles to feel they should be “available” to others.
This is leading to a crisis where work can end up dominating every working hour and working all the time becomes a way of life. If you are at this stage then you must do something about it. The reality is that you are unlikely to be effective or able to make good judgements either in you private or professional life.
Here are a few tips to help:
- Remember that work is a team effort. It’s not all down to you even if you are senior. Teams are made up of multi skilled, multi disciplined people and that is what is needed to get the job done.
- Never ever feel guilty. You like everyone deserve a break, if fact you must have one to remain effective.
- Make sure you share the load. Checking messages and working at home is fine to a limited extent but don’t let it become a habit.
- Don’t try and do everything. You cannot always return every call or reply to every email. Know when to stop and call it a day!
- Finally, wean yourself off the “working all hours” approach, you may have to do it in stages but goodness, what a difference it can make to your life.
Here are some more tips from some wise people on the web:
Prioritise your time
You may have a to-do list with 50 tasks on it, so you need to prioritise those tasks into four categories.
- Urgent and important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Neither urgent nor important. (Ella Legg, Ella Smith Communications for Roche)
Let go of perfectionism
“A lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive.” (Deborah Jian Lee for Forbes)
“Work smart, not long”
In its advice on work-life balance, the Mental Health Foundation counsels: “Work smart, not long.” What does that mean in practice? “This involves tight prioritisation – allowing yourself a certain amount of time per task – and trying not to get caught up in less productive activities, such as unstructured meetings that tend to take up lots of time.” We’ve all been there, wishing we weren’t stuck in the same room as a bunch of fatuous blowhards – or, as Michael Foley puts it in his superb book The Age of Absurdity, “the colleagues who speak at length in every meeting, in loud confident tones that suggest critical independence, but never deviate from the official line”. (Stuart Jeffries for the Guardian)
Watch this TED talk
Last but certainly not least, you HAVE to watch this TED talk from Nigel Marsh. Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. At TEDxSydney, Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time and productivity — and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.