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Do you have a good work life balance?

Award winning businesswoman Rachel Ducker brings back her EADT column and explains why it is so important to be able to ‘switch off.’

NO MATTER what your profession, keeping a steady work-life balance is of the utmost importance.

I believe work-life balance is about having a measure of control over when, where and how you work, as well as giving attention to the other important aspects in life, such as family, relationships, recreation and relaxation.

A recent study suggests that we spend around 70% of our time in the workplace, so in theory the other 30% should be used as leisure time. But how many of us can actually achieve this?

One of my biggest faults is not being able to “switch off” when I’m supposed to. On the flip side, many of my brightest ideas have come to me when my mind is most relaxed, either before I go to bed or when I awake, sometimes even when I sleep.

An additional weak-spot of mine has been working beyond my normal set hours. Because I take great pleasure in my work there is often a danger of not knowing when to draw the line between work and play. If you’re like me and tend to work a little more than you really should, or you are just the opposite and put in too little effort, both situations could be detrimental to your business. This is where keeping a keen sense of balance is so very important. But how can this be achieved?

With continued practice, I have come to realise that I need to be very disciplined within my business/home environment. I have occasionally been a victim of “burnout”, which has led to extreme tiredness and exhaustion over a prolonged period of time.

A solution that I discovered to be very helpful is to plan my daily/ weekly schedule well-in advance and stick to it. A bit like organising a shopping list; I just tick things off as I go. As well as this I can also plan in advance my personal commitments as well.

Some people laugh at my methods, but creating a “to do list” normally helps me structure and plan my day ahead, and if I don’t complete one task, I move it on to the following day and it clears my mind.

Finally, and this is a big one for me, is learning to say “no”. This is one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn in business so far. But when I have reached my work limit, it’s very important for me to understand the difference, between what I can and can’t realistically achieve.

One method that I regularly use to “get-away-from-it-all” is to go my local gym and exercise. My gym instructor, Joe, laughs at me for attending so regularly, but he now realises that this is my way to escape. Because of my 20 years of training in the martial arts I treat any leisure activity as an ideal outlet for releasing tension.

My work situation often changes on a daily basis; being flexible in my approach is often the only way that I can manage spinning all those plates at the same time.

As far as I know, we only get one shot at life, so it’s important to live it well. By being aware of an acceptable work-life balance, I am certainly now doing all that I can to achieve this objective.

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