It’s National Work-Life Balance week, and I think it’s perfectly timed to reflect the change of month, the change of season and change of natural energy stores. I’ve put together my top tips for work-life balance.
As an accountant working with many different businesses, I get to chat with my clients on a regular basis about all aspects of the businesses. We operate very differently at Insight Finance Solutions compared to most accountants. We don’t just see people once a year and sort out their receipts, we have weekly, or monthly calls with our clients and it gives us a rapport and personal relationship that also means we get personal.
Every single business owner I have been speaking to is saying the same thing.
“I don’t know if I will have the energy to go through a second lockdown again if it happens.”
“Can this year get any tougher?”
I hear them all! As the winter months draw in and the season and mood changes, it is a worrying time for all.
Finding a balance between work and life is always important but I don’t think its ever been as important as it is in 2020 when our lines are completely blurred for what ‘work’ and what ‘home’ look like. In the UK, around 60% of us worked from home in the pandemic. That means a lot of people have struggled to shut off from work and blend back into life. Coupled with homeschooling and lockdown into the mix, it was a very difficult and challenging time for many.
So what can you do as a business owner in this National Work-Life Balance Week to make sure we feel like we’ve got it all together and we can perform at our best?
Here are my five top tips for work/life balance
1) Get on top of your finances
Financial pressure is one of the biggest reasons for stress, both from a personal and business perspective. I have written before about the power of a life admin day. Set aside a day to go through all your standing orders, bills, subscriptions and question yourself whether they’re still needed.
Did you know? If you try and cancel a lot of modern subscriptions for software, they will often give you the option to continue at a lower rate?! Often at over 50% off! This is the same with your phone bill. If you are out of contract could you negotiate a lower rate? Try this with insurance policies and use utility bill comparison sites to make the switch to a lower-cost provider. This could also be beneficial with credit cards. Could you move your balance to a 0% balance transfer APR and stop paying interest on the repayments?
When it comes to your business finances, are you using cashflow forecasting to make decisions in real-time? We are huge advocates of Float Cashflow Forecasting at Insight Finance Solutions and it brings so much peace of mind knowing where you are with your cashflow.
2) Set boundaries on your work and home time
We have all been ‘on’ so much throughout the pandemic. Working from home and constant Zoom calls have taken their toll. The lines between work and home are more blurred than ever so having set work and home boundaries will help your mental health and sense fo work-life balance.
Have a dedicated workspace
Not everyone has the luxury of a home office or dedicated work desk. Many people are working on their sofa or the kitchen dining table. Wherever you’re working from, have it as a dedicated workspace for your work time. So if you are using the dining table, make sure that when you finish work (Let’s say you end work at 5 pm) then you pack away your computer and papers and set the table for dinner. A really easy way to do this could be to have a stiff but stylish home storage box by the dining table that your laptop, books, papers, pens and charger goes into when the 5 o’clock work whistle goes off.
Talking of the 5 o’clock work whistle, set definite working times. This is so vital and important. I try and finish work at 4:00pm every day to be there for my boys.
I also take Wednesdays off to be able to have quality time with my children whilst they are young as they will soon be in school and I want to enjoy this time as I can’t get it back. So I sacrifice a workday each week to dedicate that time to my family (but have it as an optional workday if I need the time).
3) Nourish yourself
There is nothing more important than your health – and that means both your physical and your mental health.
Taking care of your health by nourishing yourself with good food, exercise and self-care is a must.
Nourishing doesn’t just mean eating healthy, it can mean nourishing your mind and soul with activities that relax you. For me, it’s cuddling up under a blanket reading a book with a cup of chamomile tea. It’s a simple pleasure but it is my indulgent time to relax, unwind and switch off.
Bakewell Park this morning. No filter needed!
4) Spend time in nature
Feeling stressed out? Feeling frazzled? Get out and walk in nature. I’m a huge fan of dedicating time to walking outdoors and not being soft about the weather. I work with a client on set days and walk to the office from home, whatever the weather because it is an important time for me to be outside and at one with nature. It puts me in a great frame of mind for my working day and helps me wind down on the way home too. I make sure that I spend time in nature with my boys on our way to and from nursery. The picture above was taken this morning. Our morning routine used to be fraught getting the two little ones ready and out the door. I decided to start our mornings a little earlier and at a more leisurely pace so that we would have time to stop at the park, take in nature and have quality time together. It really makes the biggest difference to my day.
5) Adopt an attitude of gratitude or develop a culture of kindness
Gratitude is so powerful. Studies have shown that gratitude and kindness increase happiness and decrease stress. I know you may have heard about people writing gratitude lists and if you’re someone reading this who has never done it, I really encourage you to not just take in these words you’re reading right now but give it a go. Even if you sit here and think about it without writing it down. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, what are you grateful for right now?
Kindness is also super beneficial. According to Dr David Hamilton, otherwise known as ‘The Kindness Tsar’ in his books he talks about the links with neuroscience and kindness. According to studies, the part of the brain that processes kindness is the same part of the brain that processes positive thought. So every time you display an act of kindness or witness kindness in action (even via a video on YouTube) you strengthen the part of the brain responsible for positive thought. How cool is that? You could show kindness to your employees or suppliers in the form of words of thanks, a small token of appreciation like a written card or treat someone who has helped you to a meaningful gift (it doesn’t have to be expensive). Kindness is contagious and in the same way we know the R number for Corona is dangerous is over 1, did you know that the R number for kindness is 14! Kindness is a good kind of positive pandemic so do your bit to spread it.