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  • Writer's pictureShelene Byer

The "W" word

Do you wish that the word ‘work’ could be deleted from the dictionary or does the sound of work bring you content?

This week is National Work Life Week and provides a focused opportunity for both employers and employees to improve well-being at work and work-life balance. For self-employed people you are one in the same person, so this applies to you as well. It should be recognised that work also comes in many formats and isn’t necessarily a paid job.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” , Wayne Dyer.

images found on google

When you look at these images, what do you see first? Are you able to see both images in the individual picture? Notice that once you see both images you cannot un-see the differences. If you are someone who currently has a poor work-life balance, imagine what you can achieve if you apply this concept to your idea of a work-life balance.

When my alarm goes off on a Monday, I initially feel fed-up because I wish I could be paid to sleep as my job, but the last time I checked my birth certificate, my name was not Sleeping Beauty, so alas, I must be woken up by my work alarm 232 days of the year.

They say life is what you make it but what happens when a lot of your life is spent doing something that you are obligated to do, like ‘W-O-R-K’? How does one achieve the ideal work life balance?

When was the last time you analysed your work life balance?

On average a full-time job equates to 64% of the days in a year, so in theory this means you have 36% to do everything else. These figures emphasise how important it is. to cherish your personal time, choosing activities that bring you content rather than something unfulfilling.

Over my career thus far I have been in the position where I experienced a very poor work life balance but can now say that I am getting much better at managing a better balance and quality of life. The irony is that at my most extreme experience of poor work-life balance I genuinely enjoyed my job, so I used it as a justification to not acknowledge that I was overworking. It was only when I left that job did I realise the long term harm I was doing to myself regardless of the apparent job satisfaction. Thankfully I am now so much more conscientious of my working patterns and quickly recognise when I am pouring too much of myself into work and know how to pull back.

Another challenge I have had to overcome is the nuances that working from home has introduced. Initially when working from home (wfh) became the new norm (having previously been a concept that most employers didn’t want to introduce), I was so happy about the idea. No more slapping my phone to silence my alarm or feeling like a sardine in a tin during the morning commute with familiar strangers or spending more time with my work family than my blood family. I envisaged my day starting with breakfast in bed instead of wind sausage and air pudding during my commute and heavenly homemade dinners. WFH was introduced as the solution to a problem and yet it seemed to come with so many benefits. More time to do what you want to do i.e. exercise, efficiency of house chores, increased access to courses as they were online, but then the novelties started to wear off as working hours started to overlap into my personal time and I started to slip into bad practices. I started to get tired of the idea of doing everything remotely instead of in person and then began to notice that there’s no separation between work life and home life. I get that everyone’s circumstances vary but no matter what your situation, everyone deserves to achieve a better work life balance.

For a lot of us working is a means of providing financial stability, however it’s just as important to ensure that you keep a mental health check on the impact work has on you.

Try asking yourself these questions on a regular basis:

What are the positive elements of working?

How does work make you feel?

Can you do anything to make yourself feel better in your role?

Do you consult with yourself everyday?

Can you say “no” when you know you don’t want to participate in something?

There are many different reasons that the “W” word can affect your mental mood but how can you try to ensure that your work life is kept in healthy balance? You can begin by exploring what makes you feel good.

When I wake up, instead of allowing a fed-up feeling to invade my thoughts, the first thing I tell myself is: “today is a new opportunity to have a great day”. It brings me a smile. It helps me to change my perception of the day.

Other things include:

Listening to an uplifting song that has powerful lyrics or motivating speeches.

I find cooking really therapeutic and relaxing, especially when it comes to the eating part.

I treat myself by taking myself out to a new independent restaurant, it makes me feel good to support a local entrepreneur) or cinema, or some random activity found on Eventbrite.

There are no rules about how you spend time with yourself and the best part about it is there’s no one to disagree with your choice.

Spending quality time with friends or family might sound cliche but this time can be so restorative.

And last, but by no means least, doing absolutely nothing. Just chill at home, put the phone down and hug your pillow.

I hope that after digesting this information that at the very least you will come away with a more conscientious approach to how you balance the scales of work versus your quality of life.

When you enjoy something you place time and emphasis on it. So find something you love doing to enhance the quality of time you spend when not at work.

Life is too short to not enjoy!

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Words by Shelene Byer from W.E.L.L. Being SE15 and illustration by Sama Yahyazadeh.


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