Want a better work-life balance? Try going slow…

The thorny issue of work-life balance never seems to go away, particularly for working parents who are often so under pressure to stretch their time available to fit everything in that they can feel like an elastic band about to snap! Interestingly I was listening to a radio programme recently where 3 people were seeking help to slow their lives down. The volunteers had noticed how they never seemed to have enough time at work or at home to get everything done that they needed to, how their to do lists were ever growing and how those around them never received quality time from them. Stressed-mum-and-homework

Sound familiar? Well it certainly struck a chord with me and it was interesting to follow the volunteers’ journeys as they tried to establish better habits that helped them to slow down. Many of my clients also suffer from ”time poverty” and find it hard to make any space to think about their work lives and the important decisions in their lives.

But there are choices that can be made to change this, to live our lives in a different way, not in a busy, frenetic, pressurised way but in a measured, slower, quality way.

Some of the tips from the programme which I really like and think can be easily incorporated into daily life are:

• Notice where your time goes – keep a time diary for a week.

• Switch off – have an hour or more per day when you don’t look at a screen (particularly email which seems to deliver more things to do) – maybe use that hour for quality thinking time or to talk face to face with colleagues or friends.

• Delegate one task per day – don’t feel you have to do everything. If it is possible then empower someone in your team, or at home, by giving them something to do which will develop their skills.

• Say NO more – often we like to feel useful or important and can find ourselves, volunteering or saying yes to tasks when we know we don’t really have the capacity. Choose a meeting where you can consciously practice resisting the urge to say ”yes”. Notice how you feel when you have decided not to take on more work.

• Allow more time between tasks or activities so you are not always running late or becoming very stressed to get somewhere in time.

• Get in touch with your ”inner tortoise” and find an activity or develop a ritual that requires you to be slow – so you can regain the skill of doing something slowly and rediscover enjoying the process, not just the result.

• Recognise that you may suffer from ”institutional self delusion” where being busy equals importance or success or that you are irreplaceable.

• Don’t take your work on holiday – leave your work phone at home or if you must take it with you only check it at an agreed time for a specific period so it doesn’t creep into your down time.

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So try out one or all of these suggestions and notice how the quality of your work and your life outside work can improve just by being consciously slower!

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