How To Achieve Work-Life Balance and Manage Demands
Episode Two of the new six-part special mental health and well-being podcast is now available. In this episode, guests Michael McGougan, Head of Membership at DGCOS and George Jones from Cahill Renewables discuss the issues surrounding work life balance.
Michael and George kick off the podcast by acknowledging that most organisations and individuals, especially those who are sole traders, have so much to deal with, including marketing, sales, purchasing, installing, invoicing and often, chasing payments. With days filled with delivering jobs and evenings full of admin, it’s no surprise that achieving a work life balance is a big ask.
What does work life balance mean?
The podcast delves into what the phrase work-life balance means and highlights that it signifies something different to each of us. Michael makes the point that time is so precious to us all, but to deliver quality at work, we need to try to find quality downtime for ourselves, whether that be with friends, family, hobbies, etc. Michael says that from experience, the best way to start to achieve that balance between making money while removing stress, is to introduce structure into our lives.
Digital noise versus personal discipline
Agreeing with this, George comments how technology has made switching off so much harder. We can become real slaves to our inboxes. We’ve all done that ‘I’ll just quickly check my emails’ at the weekend or in the evenings. But it can become relentless, so taking a step back and introducing practical measures can be helpful. It could be as simple as having a work phone and a private phone or actually finishing at 5pm. Ironically, technology has introduced so much flexibility that it is a massive cause of stress. Another suggestion is to understand yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Are you an early bird or a night owl? We can’t be both, so maybe structure your work around times when you know you’re most productive. If you’re a list person, maybe try prioritising by using a short ‘to do’ immediately list, and then a midterm to longer list which isn’t constantly in your line of view.
Delegation is not failing
The whole area of delegation is then put under the spotlight in the episode. Michael comments that sometimes he feels that he has failed when he delegates. He is now trying to spin this on its head and see that through delegation, you are giving someone else an opportunity – and often, they will succeed at the task at hand. We need to try to lose the fear of letting go and see how we’re actually empowering others to support us in our businesses and alleviate stress.
Our sector is an ever-changing environment, and we may think we’ve got our days planned out, but then something comes up that takes priority. Being reactive is far more stressful than being proactive. George comments how introducing clear methods of communication with your clients can often mean they mirror you, so they are more understanding if things go wrong. It can also mean they respect your time more too.
It might sound straight forward – but take a break! Sometimes the smallest changes in our habits make the biggest difference. Try not to ‘work’ through lunch. Somehow, we seem to think that by working through lunch, we get more done. We’re all human and have our limits, with 20 minutes often cited as the optimum time for us to be able to focus properly before needing a break. Hydration, nutritional foods, and at least 30 minutes of sunlight every day is critical. We all know how physical health and wellbeing are the foundations to our mental health. Giving ourselves the opportunity to decompress is so important.
Michael concludes by discussing how DGCOS’ focus is to be every members’ added resource to help them get time back in their day, give practical support and above all, be there to give reassurance as the critical friend to rely on. And that’s probably what we should all take away – being open, empathic and sensitive to our own needs will in the long run, promote better mental health and reduce stress. Sometimes, being selfish is better than being selfless.
The series running throughout Autumn coincides with Suicide Prevention Month during September and Depression and Mental Health Awareness month in October, and is available here:
“If you are reading this and struggling now, regardless of whether you’re a DGCOS member or not, we urge you to reach out for confidential 24/7 support by texting HARDHAT on 85258.”