A flexible working lifestyle can be a double-edged sword if you don’t manage your time carefully. On the one hand the technology that enables us the freedom to work flexibly is ironically the same thing that can compromise our well-being.
Technology can fast become a vacuum that sucks your attention out of “life” activities, disrupting your personal time. How do you withstand the constant pull of work when you’re always plugged in?
One of the challenges of living a flexible working lifestyle is that you can find yourself continually on ‘go mode’. So long as your mobile phone is close-by it’s hard to not react when Slack pings, the phone rings or you get a new email notification, regardless of the time of day or night. It can soon start feel like you’re on a treadmill with no stop button to hop off and get some uninterrupted rest.
Quite often we make the mistake of keeping on going until exhaustion creeps up on us and we get to breaking point. It’s not healthy and it’s not necessary. There are simple preventative coping measures you can incorporate into your life to make sure you stay healthy and have the balance and boundaries you need to live a well-balanced life.
The secret is to not let work overtake life but to embed it in life in a positive and unobtrusive way. Here are some simple changes you can make to operate at your equilibrium and reduce the risk of stress and burn-out:
- Take Holidays. Structure your year by dividing it into quarters and plan to take a holiday every 12 weeks. This means you can work hard for 12 weeks with the reward of a planned holiday at the end of it to rest, recuperate and create life memories. Whether you plan to go overseas, have a staycation, or domestic exploration; block out the dates in advance and build your work schedule around it. And another tip – as soon as one break ends, book the next one!
- Stay Active. Set aside time in your day/week to exercise. Aside from its well-known physical benefits, regular exercise reduces stress, depression and anxiety, and enables people to better cope with adversity, according to researchers. It also gives you a break from being ‘connected’ to work, so take time out for the gym or a walk —leave your phone behind and get those endorphins going!
- Make time for the things you enjoy. Plan-ahead as much as possible so that you can put all your life commitments into your calendar and don’t be afraid to share it with your colleagues so they know when you’re available. Making time to do what’s important to you is an integral part of work-life integration otherwise you start to lose yourself in work. Whether it be attending a school event, being a parent helper, training, spending time with a loved one, catching up with a friend, looking after a family member or fulfilling a hobby. Make time for it, commit to it and be present in the moment.
- Unplug. Being connected to technology 24/7 can cause burn-out, distance you from family and create a disconnect from life around you. By all means make yourself available—especially if you’ve earned the right to “flex” your hours—but recognize the need for personal time, too. Put boundaries in place – for example, you might decide not to check or respond to work emails after 8pm – and utilise tools like your out of office, or simply state your work hours in your email signature – to set expectations with others about your availability. Once you’ve worked out your boundaries, commit to them!
Don’t wait for the new year to turn over a new leaf and make a fresh start. If you don’t feel like your lifestyle is as good as it could be, then take a moment to do some soul searching and think about what ‘good’ looks like for you and start making change today. Remember, it’s your calendar so fill it with the things you want because you only get to live each day once.
If your business needs support to successfully implement flexible working, or you would like to improve culture or well-being in your workplace, contact the team at Freerange Works for a free consultation on 0800 04 FLEX or email firstname.lastname@example.org.