Gaining Work Life Balance (Even When You Spend a Lot of Time at Work!)

I’ve always found that work life balance very hard to attain. It’s that fine line between presenting yourself as being there, willing and committed and having time to actually have a life outside of work.Many people don’t know I have a degree in Law and French, which I NEVER USE. That’s another story, but when I got my degree I could have decided to have continued to study law and work so so hard to be a barrister or solicitor. I saw one of my fellow students who wanted to study at the bar so badly she actually had to take a year out when exam time came along as the pressure became all too much for her. The year after she tried again and got a first. Last time I had contact with her she was at the start of her career and was tubing it to work in the early hours and some days even sleeping at the office. I knew that life was not for me. She had zero work life balance, it was alllll work. I didn’t want the pressure she had quite clearly felt getting there and I needed a life as I feel a life is, so I continued my work in retail and here I am! 16 whole years later.Now retail isn’t an easy ride either, managing a team, having things go wrong and generally having to muck in are all part of the 7-7. I once remember being at work from 5am to 11pm before a big event and it was shattering. But I did it, I won awards, I excelled and I chased the promotions and got them. Since moving out of the field into a head office environment the pressure has relaxed somewhat, but it’s still there, the need for presenteeism (not a word I know!) to show you are working, you are accessible etc, just like in the days gone by. It’s a feeling of needing to ‘show’ you’re there working hard and being visible.It’s a hard fight as if you’re similar to me you’ll have trained yourself to think this way too, however simply being present in an office doesn’t prove you are working!which leads me to the first of my three things I try and do to keep some work life balance.Work From Home/A Quiet Space Who gets more work done working from home than in the office!? Me for sure- do you? So why don’t we do it more? Another more commonly known fact is that I travel a 100 miles round trip to work everyday. And most times I turn up! What’s to say I couldn’t work from home sometimes? I need to ascertain when it’s best- when I have a big project or presentation to work on and I need some quiet time, or to prepare things for my personal development, or when I just need time out to strategise or reflect without people around me! These all are great reasons to work from home, save myself 2-3 hours on the commute and get more done. Win. Think about when you work best off grid, or quietly or from home. Not just when you have an appointment or waiting for your new washing machine to be delivered, when does working at home benefit your career or work?Manage Expectations I’ll be doing a full post on this, so for now just think- how can I manage expectations so people know when I will do something by? Get this right and those staying lates at the office will become a thing of the past once you’ve got all those plates spinning for good. If it’s not achievable for a certain date then say so. Of course sometimes it’s just a must do and you’ll have to pull a late one, but don’t put it on yourself by not pushing back.Make the Most of Your Free Time Of course the way to get more ‘life’ into your work/life balance is to maximise the time you have when not at work. It’s not always about being busy or going places, think about how you can maximise the time you spend on downtime. I always remember Bee talking about using her lunch break to take photos for her blog posts, I’m thinking along those lines, or how you make the most of the evenings rather than just going home waiting for Love Island to start. Will not lie I have started watching it after whichever World Cup game is on so not practising what I preach here! Which just shows I need more help so tell me, how do you manage to keep your work life balance at the level you want it to be without impacting your career?