One of the key barriers to achieving a healthy worklife balance is the feeling of guilt when you stop working, something that is especially difficult for perfectionist or A-type personalities, says business coach Jon Dale.
“Work grows to fill the space you give it, so it’s never all done. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist and you like that completion, you might think you’ll stop when it’s all finished – but that never happens."
“There’s that sense of obligation you feel to yourself, to the business and to your staff because it’s always incomplete and there is always work to do.”
Overcoming this and achieving a healthy balance comes starts with “playing little tricks on yourself” says Dale. He offers five tips to make it work:
1. Make a contract
“If at 6pm you’ve got a stack of stuff in front of you that you’re supposed to do or you feel like you should do, you’re not going to go home,” says Dale. “You’re not going to say ‘I feel like I’ve done enough for today, I think I’ll go’, so you have to make those decisions at a different time.”
Decide, for your own personal circumstances, what are reasonable hours for you to be working, and set aside days or times when you will not work, says Dale.
Whether you physically write a contract regarding your commitment to these hours and sign it, or you make a verbal contract with a partner, friend or business coach isn’t important, says Dale. The point is that you’ve made a commitment to yourself and others which will mean you’re more likely to stick with that when the pressure builds up – and are less likely to feel guilty about it.
"If you decide when the pressure is not on then when it comes to 5.30 and you say 'That’s right, I go home at 5.30 don’t I?'... you still may not always leave on the dot or anything but certainly by 6pm you're feeling pretty bad that you hadn’t gone home and you're certainly not going to be there at 7."
There’s always more work to do, but there’s also more life to be enjoyed outside of work.