Is it time to switch off?

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Work-life balance is a term that is often bandied about the workplace, but how important is it, and is it truly achievable?

Every job has its stresses and strains and occasionally there is a business need to start at the office early or work into the evening to make sure work is completed.  

But what about when this happens weekly or even daily? Are you letting work needlessly cut into your personal life?

Break the after-hours email habit

Depending on your job you may need to be on-call or contactable after office hours - that's fine. But what if out-of-hours contact isn't vital for your line of work? Does your client really need your email response at 7.30pm when you've got one eye on the television and you're in the middle of preparing dinner? Probably not. It's most likely that they won't read or respond to your email until the morning anyway.

Be more French

Often employees feel that they need to come into the office early and leave late so that they can impress their boss and peers. Compared to other countries, these (voluntarily) extended working hours are not all that productive.

Take France for example. The standard working week in France is 35 hours and they are 15% more productive (per hour) than the UK.  Think about that next time it's 5pm and you've finished your work for the day. Hanging around for 30 minutes pretending to work is 30 minutes you will never get back.  That's time that can be spent doing something fun.

A recent article by the BBC talks about new rules in France that protect workers within digital and consultancy sectors from work outside office hours.  No work emails, no phone calls.

Skipping lunch isn't clever

A lot of people skip lunch or eat and work at the same time; however, having a proper break can really boost productivity for the day. Check out these tips on how to get the most out of your break.

Research shows that a lunch break makes you more productive, not less: skipping lunch is now estimated to cost UK companies nearly £50 million pounds per day in lost productivity, which is a mind-boggling amount. It's just a break from your desk and a bite to eat - and giving that up isn't benefiting your company one bit.

Here are our five tips on how to bring your life and work into better balance:

1. Don't put in long hours when you don't need to - if it's for show, you will not be more productive and you'll be more tired by the end of the working week. It'll put a downer on your Friday night!

2. Take a lunch break - if you must sit at your desk and eat, do something that isn't work related to give your brain a break.

3. Don't feel under pressure to come into work when you are ill: you will make your colleagues sick and the office productivity will take a nosedive.This won't go down well with the boss.

4. Take holidays. It's important to take time off to relax.  Organise a thorough handover before you leave, so that you don't need to worry about your workload when are not there.

5. When you're at home, put your phone on silent or turn it off, and unless it's crucial, don't check your emails.

Relax.  Do something you enjoy.  You'll feel better for it!


Image: Updating my website by Mark Hunter