Getting to that happy place between scarcity and excess is central to a fulfilling life. From diet and exercise to the time we spend at work and at home, finding the Goldilocks zone of “just rightness” is a constant quest for most of us. Balance doesn’t come naturally; it’s something we have to keep working on.
When it comes to business, no matter how much responsibility you have, making time for your personal life will boost both your work and your wellbeing.
Here are three things to consider if you want to improve your work-life balance:
Know that rest makes your work better
Many people overwork out of a desire to increase their output, but quantity of hours doesn’t always equate to quality of work. Switching off and allowing your mind some downtime in which to wander will actually aid your creativity.
Daydreaming is often seen as the antithesis of work, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your subconscious is a powerful problem-solver. While your focused mind is at rest, your subconscious is still ticking over, spotting patterns, incubating ideas and unknotting even the most complex of conundrums.
Research by the University of British Columbia has found that our brains are actually incredibly busy when we’re daydreaming. In fact, more parts of the brain are active when we let our mind wander than when we’re focused on work.
So the next time you feel guilty about taking some time out from work to read, meditate or go for a walk, remember that you’re actually refuelling yourself to become more creative and productive.
Disconnect and be present
Given the connectivity offered by mobile devices, many of us struggle to leave our work behind when we leave the office. If you’re on holiday, resist the temptation to check your emails. Switching off completely will make your time off more enjoyable and also ensure that you’re truly refreshed when you return.
Of course, avoiding technology can be easier said than done when it comes to handling work anxiety – that niggly feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something important. To put your mind at rest when you’re away from work, you need to “anchor” your tasks. Whether you write them in a notebook or store them in a task management app, the important thing is that they’re out of your head and in safe storage until your return.
Understand your circadian rhythms
In our digitally connected world, work doesn’t have to be done between 9am and 5pm. Our circadian rhythm is the organic, internal process that naturally regulates our sleep and wakefulness cycle. It varies from person to person, hence we have morning larks and night owls who perform better at different times. Knowing your own rhythm can be the key to getting the most from your working day and giving yourself the downtime you need too.
While many people wear their lack of sleep as a badge of honour, missing out on it means racking up sleep debt, which can be hard to repay. Sleep deprivation has a whole host of ramifications, especially when it comes to cognitive function. But arranging your time so that you work during your periods of peak alertness should enable you to relax properly in your time off, safe in the knowledge that you’ve performed at your best during the day – or even the night.
Written by Chris Griffiths with Caragh Medlicott, author, creativity expert and CEO