Maintaining a good work life balance

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 29 Jun 2012

‘Work hard, play hard’ is a well known phrase by many, however this doesn’t seem to be the case for us Brits, a study of 2000 people commissioned by Avery Office & Consumer Products found that nearly half of Brits said they worry about work in their spare time, while two thirds work at times when they feel they shouldn’t have to [1].

The Office for National Statistics also published a report in December 2011 which states that full-time workers in the UK work longer hours than the EU average with the UK average being 42.7% compared to 41.6% across the EU [2]. With tight deadlines and long working hours it can often be very hard to draw a fine line between work and leisure, but what are the tell tale signs that we are in need of a better balance?

  • Regularly working more and staying behind after work.
  • Physically/mentally drained.
  • Early morning blues – do you dread going to work in the morning?
  • No time to spend quality time with family and friends.
  • Experiencing no excitement in your work.
  • Feeling undervalued.
  • Job difficulties.

Do any of the above sound like you? We’ve come up with some helpful ways in which you can manage your work time and leisure time much more effectively.

Time management

Keeping organised is key to completing a task on time so make sure you prioritise your workload if you want to leave on time at the end of the working day. It’s important to manage your free time too, plan a schedule so that you can set aside time to relax, socialise or spend time with your family.

Knowing when to stop

Do you work to live or live to work? Being successful can be great, but being successful and overworked doesn’t always lead to happiness. It’s hard to know when to stop when you’re snowed under with deadlines, so set yourself boundaries to stop yourself from burning out. Disable emails on your smart phone and if you don’t want people ringing you outside of working hours, don’t give out your mobile number.

Explore other working environments

Are you bored with working within the same four walls? If you really can’t sacrifice doing extra work outside of your 9-5 hours, pick up your laptop and nip down to the local coffee shop for a change of scenery. Working in a new environment can add a bit of excitement to the prospect of doing work and may even inspire you to be more creative.

Take a break

Slugging at work for long periods of time can actually affect our ability to work productively. According to research by Bupa in January 2011, the impact on workers not taking a break is significant, almost half (48 per cent) feel their productivity levels plummet in the afternoon around 3 o’clock and as a result lose almost 40 minutes of their day due to this dip [3]. Taking regular breaks allows your mind to rest and recover so that you can return to a task with a clearer focus. Make sure you give yourself a five minute break even if it’s just going to the drinks machine to make coffee. Instead of eating your lunch at your desk everyday, make the most out of your free time and venture outdoors to take a break from the office. Are you in need of a longer break? Consider booking a holiday, it’s the ultimate way to relax and clear your head.

Personal targets

You might be crystal clear about your career aspirations for the future, but have you put any thought into your personal goals? Give your mind something else to focus on other than just work. Take time out of your day to do something you enjoy, try taking up a new hobby or learning a new sport.


According to an article published by Bupa in August 2010 [4], you’re likely to feel happier, more satisfied with life and have an improved sense of well being if you’re physically active. Exercise may not be the solution to your troubles, but it can definitely help you to feel better.

Talk to someone

Sometimes we just need to talk to someone to change our work-life balance. If you are struggling to cope, speak to your manager – most companies have flexible provisions in place that could free up your leisure time without affecting your work.

1 72 point (February, 2012), “Workers don’t switch off” [online]. Available from www.72point.com
2 Office for National Statistics (December, 2011), “Hours Worked in the Labour Market 2011″ [online]. Available from www.ons.gov.uk
3 Bupa (January, 2011), “Working through lunch costs UK businesses almost £50million” [online]. Available from www.bupa.co.uk
4 Bupa (August, 2010), “Benefits of exercise” [online]. Available from www.bupa.co.uk

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.