It's just gone 9:30pm and I've just checked my work emails. To me this is entirely normal now, but a few months ago this was something I had officially never done before. I've never had a job that I had access to outside of work hours; always leaving the prison gates, or the office, and having no way of doing any work or checking emails from home. I realise now that this was a bloody good thing, and also rare. Whilst I may have sometimes taken an enormous load of emotional baggage home with me after a long day behind bars, I had my time at home to let it all go. When I was offered my current job, the thought of working from home could not have excited me more, but a few months in, and I'm starting to notice my 'free time' is not so free anymore. The temptation is there to just work an extra half an hour, or to get ready for bed and just check my emails quickly, but then it's 11:30pm and I realise I watched one episode of Eastenders whilst I ate dinner and that this is the only time I had to myself all day.
I spent a lovely weekend in London with family, and attending the super inspiring Good Roots festival, where I mingled the hippest of healthy raw food eating yoga loving hipsters. But I was tired, and drained, and just wanted my bed. Last week is a bit of a blur, with one client crisis after another, a whistle stop all day meeting London, and the arrival of my job promotion offer to manager of the team I've only just joined. I'm thrilled to be offered the position, and know I'm qualified and experienced in the role, but I'm taking stock now and learning I've got to make some changes now if I'm going to be any good at taking the lead and building a stronger team.
I've not updated the blog in ages, and I miss it, and yet most days it's just one thing too much and I can't do it. Between rushing to Lidl, cooking dinner, tidying up, going to the gym and washing my self, I've come to understand I do not have enough time in the day.
The thing is, I know I'm not unusual. I know many many people who also feel the same way I do. I think the term is 'chronically knackered', or just plain 'fu@ked' most of the time. All this work, and constant demand on our time is seriously messing up our mental health, and current sickness levels at work in the UK prove we're suffering on an enormous scale. Have a look at this research from 2015 on stress and the impact on the UK workplace.
So what can we do about it?! I'm determined to get a grip on my time and claw back as much of my FREE time as I can, because I'm no good to anyone if I continue to whizz through every week, chasing my tail and feeling like I never get done what I need to.
Here are a few ideas of ways I plan to get control of my life, and to get a better 'work/life balance' that everyone keeps banging on about!
1. Deleting Social Media Apps- Yes...I went there, and it's also my first
point, but I beg you to keep reading as to why I'm planning on being so drastic! It sounds absurd, as social media is an integral part of our 'free time' nowadays, and it helps us maintain relationships with people we wouldn't otherwise see very often. I've noticed though, that I pick up my phone the minute I open my bleary eyes in the morning, and waste nearly 20 minutes every morning scrolling aimlessly through more than one news feed on more than one social media platform. I then do the same thing countless times throughout the day when I have any spare minutes, and waste more time throughout the day. All this wasted time scrolling through my phone could be better spent enjoying a quiet cup of coffee and recharging my brain through relaxation, rather than getting pissed off that 'so-and-so' has posted yet another 'meme' about how pissed off they are.
2. Sunday afternoon planning parties- OK, so it's not a party if it's
just you, and it's also not a party if you aren't in heels and your feet don't hurt, but I foresee a few hours spent with my planner, a pot of tea and small artisan pastry, and getting to grips with my week ahead. From meal planning, to shopping lists, to scheduling, I want to go to bed on Sunday evening knowing that I don't need to waste my precious time after work wracking my brain for what to eat for dinner, or rushing to the shop because all I had in the fridge was the rind of a block of Parmesan cheese and 1/2 a cucumber. I could even make a planning party playlist! And the most important part about the whole planning thing...to plan in for unplanned time, and to stick to it!
3. Boundaries- From here on, I vow not to check my emails after 6pm, and to accept that tomorrow is a new day and that is OK.
4. Tech Free Weekends- I've been toying with the idea of trying this for some time, but so far haven't done it, however, following my post on how to have an 'at home holiday', I've been inspired to try a weekend with no phone, no TV, and no computer. Technology can do wonders for your mental health, but it can also wreck it, and occasionally switching off and filling your time with other things can be brilliant for recharging your energy and getting balance back in your life. Perhaps this weekend is as good as any to give it a try!
5. Be kind to myself- I've struggled for years with increasing the demands on myself in one way or another. Be it striving for perfection at work (in a team much better at demanding their free time as me), trying to be the perfect wife with a delicious dinner on the table every night, or going hell for leather on the gym program from my personal trainer, I
expect a lot from myself on a daily basis. It's caused problems before, and it will no doubt again, unless I stop working myself to the bone and give in to the fact that I'm only human, and sometimes its OK to have peanut butter on toast for dinner! Time to start praising myself for being kinder to myself, rather than feeling like a lazy failure.
So yes...I got a promotion at work, which is great for my career, but could be detrimental to my wellbeing and my sanity. If I'm to avoid becoming the psycho manager from hell, I better start managing my time better!
How do you manage your busy life? Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know! We'd love some new tips to try!