If you’re a leader in your organisation then your team is looking to you to set an example, so it’s important that you turn up every day being the best you can. It’s crucial to look after yourself because you need to be there for your team, and that can only happen if you’re healthy – both physically and mentally.
"My first response when asked this question is that you will never ‘find’ a work/life balance, it is something that you have to ‘create’ for yourself."
Becky Woodhouse, chief executive of Pure Spa and Beauty, adds, "I used to be stressed out and overworked, with poor eating habits. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this unhealthy lifestyle was making me lacklustre and irritable and meant I was suffering from burnout, which impacted on all areas of my life, both work and family. It was only when I started to take steps towards a healthier, happier lifestyle that I realised the profound impact it had on every area of my life.
Here are Shaw and Woodhouse's top tips for creating a work-life balance:
"The first step is to reflect on whether or not you’re happy with your lifestyle at the moment and, if you’re not, to do something to improve it, even if you only make small changes," says Woodhouse.
"It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so if you’re making changes to your life, allow yourself time for them to become part of your routine. Once they are, you will see that little things quickly add up to changes that are really quite big."
Woodhouse explains, "I’m a workaholic. No matter what I do, I just can’t switch my brain off work mode at 5pm and switch it back on at 9am the next morning.
"This used to make me really stressed because I would wonder how I could improve my work-life balance when my head felt like it was bursting at the seams. And if I had finished work at 5pm, I would have felt lazy. I finally resolved this problem when it dawned on me that working nine to five is only one way of achieving a better work-life balance and that I needed another method.
"So, instead of trying to force myself into a pattern I wasn’t happy with, I decided to take a more flexible approach. Essentially, I now don’t have a set working pattern.
"However, I make sure I prioritise family and home stuff as much as I prioritise work. I still work most evenings and some weekends but I also take more time off during the day; for example, to meet a friend for lunch or pick my kids up early, and I take more holidays. So figure out what works for you instead of forcing yourself into a pattern that doesn’t feel right."
"You need to understand is where are you spending your most valuable assets – your time and your energy," comments Shaw. "Write down everything you do over a seven-day period and how much time you’ve spent doing it.
"It needs to include both work and home, so if you spend three hours doing a stock take, 30 minutes on the school run and one hour watching Netflix, this all gets written down. It’s interesting when you start seeing how much of your time you allocate to certain tasks - you can then decide if that time is serving you well and deserves the amount of energy you put in, or see whether something else could bring you more joy or success."
Woodhouse says, "I'm a planner; I like to have everything organised and know exactly what I’m doing at all times. However, a little thing called life often gets in the way and chaos ensues. I can’t cope with a lot of chaos, I find it too stressful and have learned to deal with this by planning some flexibility into my life.
"I try to make sure I always have at least one day in the week blocked out for… well for no specific reason. Just knowing that I have an extra day saves an awful lot of stress and it means I have the time to adapt to anything unexpected that comes up."
Shaw says, "I know this can sound really boring, but having everything in your salon systemised will not only free up your time but it will help your stress levels and mental health as well.
"You won’t constantly be worrying about whether things are being done the way you want if you are not there. Imagine the feeling of just ‘knowing’ that everything in your salon will run exactly the way you want it to, whether you are there or not! That is the freedom that systems will give you and the easiest way to create your work-life balance."
This is a great way to hand over tasks that don’t need to be completed by you, freeing up your time to do other things or take a break.
Shaw adds, "If you systemise the process, you can be confident that these tasks will be carried out in a way you are happy with. It also helps to grow your team and give them responsibility."
The best tool for achieving a great work-life balance is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Woodhouse says, "We all get ill from time to time but it should be the exception, not the norm. You can’t operate at your best if you’re not feeling your best.
"I’ve introduced small changes - because I’m terrible at sticking to major ones - into my life that don’t take up much time but improve my health. I now try to walk rather than drive, I do five minutes of exercise every morning, which gives me energy for the day, and I have cut down on my drinking. It’s amazing how much better small changes can make you feel and what a positive effect they have on the rest of your life."
Everyone has their own challenges at home and at work. "If you introduce a flexible working policy you’re telling your employees that you recognise their challenges and want to help," comments Woodhouse.
"This will benefit you too because if your staff have a good work-life balance they will be less stressed, come to work happier and be more productive. This in turn makes your job easier and will make you happier and less stressed than if you’re managing miserable employees."
Woodhouse says, "I know this probably sounds bizarre, but you can make yourself think happy thoughts. Every morning when I wake up I tell myself that 'today is going to be a great day'. I make myself a hot water and lemon and I dry body brush to get my circulation going. By the time I get out of the shower, I’m ready for a good day.
"Just try it for a week and see if it lifts your mood. If you start on a positive note you will feel happier and less stressed for the whole day, and if you do this most days, it will begin to have a really positive impact on your life."
Article written by Ellen Cummings and originally featured here
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