How to improve work life balance and Performance
It’s a common paradox that flexible conditions, no fixed hours contracts and remote working have often led to workers being more drained than ever. Burnout is becoming more and more frequent despite many companies offering wellness, mental health, and leisure benefits. So, what is going wrong and how do you avoid workplace fatigue - while still performing to a high standard?
1. No defined Start/Stop
Working from home is not new and many workers, especially in tech, have been home-based for much of their career. However, in the post-pandemic era the percentage of people in hybrid or remote roles has grown exponentially. Often, these employees are less used to the discipline required to ‘power down’ and instead ‘power through’ work without taking time to rest and recharge. This is a key factor in burnout and also leads to brain-fog and poor critical thinking.
Nobody wants to work to old fashioned 9-5 hours and, as adults we need to be methodical around the way we use our time. Use your calendar wisely and, if possible, plan your days in advance. Ensure that you schedule breaks and stick to them. Stop work at a time that suits you and try to plan around family, fitness, and leisure activities. If you are working for a good employer, they’ll actively support you in making the role work for you.
2. Remote Leadership
The role of leadership has changed dramatically, and many managers have not been up-skilled in the techniques required to manage a remote team.Sat in an office, it’s easy to spot a colleague who is overworked or stressed out. Remotely it’s far more difficult, and of course when your boss checks in over the phone or zoom it’s easy to say - ‘I’m great Boss, thanks for checking’ – Rather than tell them that you are maxed out and drowning in work!
Take ownership of your workload and communicate effectively with your leadership team around what is and isn’t possible. These are robust conversations, of course and in most cases your manager will be grateful to be kept informed as this will enable them to plan and allocate work effectively. If you are the person who always accepts the next project with a smile, regardless of how stressed you are, it’s likely that you’ll end up with more work than your peers. We also see exceptional ‘worker bees’ getting overlooked for promotion because they are too busy to focus on the bigger picture of what’s going on in the organisation.
It’s hard to find positives around commuting (The Manly Ferry is a good exception!) and many professionals are doing great things with the hours that they have saved. However, having some physical or chronological distance between what we do for work and our personal life can be extremely powerful for our wellbeing. We hear too many stories – often of people boasting – of ‘Oh, I can fit an extra couple of hours work in rather than being sat in the car, bus, train’. This is not healthy.
Where possible, find a way to separate your professional and home life. Clearly, this is easier for somebody with a separate office or garden room than a share house worker. Focusing on mindfulness and simply putting a small break between finishing your workday and starting your home routine can make a big difference. If you are ‘flitting’ between work tasks and spending time with family and friends, you simply won’t be present enough to enjoy the time. Think about the commuting time you have saved and decide what you want to do with it. After all time is the one thing that you don’t have enough of and certainly can’t buy.
In the old world of work, routine was forced upon us. Get up, get the train and be at your desk by 8.30.Have lunch, go home at 5.30.And repeat. The contrast between the old professional working life and modern, flexible employment is stark. There is some evidence that as human beings we thrive on routine and repetition. As employees, we can now take control and drive our own structures.
Think about what a great day would look like and build a routine around it. Maybe that includes an early walk, gym, run etc followed by a coffee. Maybe you enjoy a lie-in and find that you do your best work in the later part of the morning. How exciting to be able to build a work-life that suits you. Make a plan and stick to it.
5. Performance and Goals
Assuming you’re in a career that brings you purpose (if not call BMS Performance right now!) it’s natural to want to progress. Learning, personal development and financial aspirations are often linked to your career, and this can create stress if you are not sure how to achieve your goals.In a remote environment it is often harder to be visible and great performances, either a discrete piece of work or a consistent over-achievement could be over-looked.
Define your goals and WRITE THEM DOWN.Get help from a trusted friend or mentor who can give impartial advice.Break your goals down into bite sized chunks and prioritise actions.What can you control and what needs external support?Communicate your goals to your leadership team and, if possible, get them to commit to a development plan.Maybe surprisingly, professionals who are working on a clear career plan and report that they are working hard to achieve their goals are far less susceptible to burn out than ‘worker bees’.
In summary, the modern workplace offers benefits that give us an amazing opportunity to take back control of our lives. To balance our life and our career aspirations we need to be present, organised and focused. Not just on work but on the balance itself.
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