This post is the third in a series looking at Work Life Balance.
Do you often feel tired for no reason? Does it sometimes seem to you that you’ve lost interest in everything? Well your life balance may be off sync.
Around 6.5 million UK employees – that’s around 30% of the working population – describe themselves as unhappy at work, according to research published last year.
What Are The Signs Of An Unhealthy Work-Life Balance?
- You’re in physical pain
- You’re exhausted
- You have a short temper
- You haven’t enjoyed yourself in a long time
- Your personal relationships are under strain with your family and friends
- Your environment is messy
- Your phone is always on
- You don’t know where your priorities lie
- Perfection is everything to you
- Your self-care routine has gone out the window
Let’s look at these in greater detail.
1. You’re In Physical Pain.
Stress can cause chronic headaches and pain in your neck and shoulders. It is certainly not unusual for someone with a bad work life balance to begin feel nagging aches and pains, suffering from headaches and migraines. Take this as a bodies way of issuing an early warning sign. Get into balance or things will deteriorate. Hospitals are full of people whose life spiralled out of balance, and the only thing that could get them to stop working their life away was ending up in accident and emergency.
2. You’re Exhausted.
Another unfortunate side-effect of a poor work life balance is an overactive brain that keeps you from getting enough sleep. Working all the hours you can, and too little sleep leads to exhaustion, which can then spiral into worse conditions. Can you cut your mind off from work when you’re in bed, or do you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t switch your brain off?
3 You Have A Short Temper.
The more you let work take over your life, the shorter your fuse. You’ll become impatient and you might snap at your colleagues or loved ones. Do you recall such a moment?
4 You Haven’t Enjoyed Yourself In A Long Time.
You can’t remember when you last did something you love. Most of your time is spent at work and even when you do go out with family and friends your brain carries on focusing on work and you feel guilty having taken time off.
5 Your Personal Relationships Are Under Strain With Your Family And Friends.
An unhealthy work life balance will often put your personal relationships under pressure. Whether we are talking about with your partner, your children, other members of your family or friends. you seem always distracted, absorbed with your work even when you are with them and you don’t spend enough time with them in the first place. Often they can see what you can’t. Such as you are completely stressed out, perhaps heading for some type of break down or health problem. But you won’t listen, will you?
6 Your Work Space, Home, Even Your Car Are In A Total Mess.
You seem to have let go, maybe even your appearance isn’t as crisp and tidy as it had been. Everything is all over the place as though its been ignored, as it probably has been. You haven’t even noticed. When your professional and personal space is very much chaotic that is a definite work-life balance alarm bell.
7 Another Sign That We All See All The Time – Your Phone Is Always On.
When you are out for dinner, or in a coffee shop, even the cinema there’s always at least one person that is constantly on their phone. Not a youngster, one of us oldies, no doubts checking on work, his/her emails, his/her website. Your phone is always on. Someone with a poor work-life balance is always checking their phone for messages.
8 You Don’t Know Where Your Priorities Lie – Its Like A Tug Of Love.
You start getting confused, guilty about what you’re doing. Knowing that you’ve not putting the time and effort somewhere that you should. So you start trying to re prioritise, and then when you do, you then question is it now right, can you make the necessary changes, would it be the right thing to do. So now you’re trapped in an ongoing debate with yourself.
9 Another Sign Is Perfectionism.
Everything you do you want to do perfectly. You fall into a cycle where you end up disappointed, feeling you’ve let yourself down, feeling as though you’ve failed. This then leads to a very negative emotional state, anxiety, even depression. Being a perfectionist puts too much constant pressure on to you, and eventually everyone cracks. Be warned!
10. Your Self-Care Routine Has Gone Out The Window.
You’ve gotten way out of shape. You have no time to prepare descent meals, you don’t even have time to do a healthy food shop. You grab sandwiches, fast food. Overload on coffees. Use chocolate and other high sugared snacks to give you the occasional energy shot. The most you walk is from your place of work to your car. Exercise is a non starter. You read about the importance of stress management, particularly relaxation, but you don’t have the time for such things. In fact, the least looked after responsibility in your life right now is your health.
These are typical signs of a bad work life balance. Having gone through these, how many would you say relate to your life right now? Soon we are going to go more deeply into your work life balance so there’s no hiding place. You need to work out how balanced your life really is.
Let’s get a bit more specific on the symptom of work life balance. These are the things from a lot of the research and studies that have been done, that are associated to work life balance
Symptoms that are clearly associated include:
Symptoms Of Work Life Unbalance
- Headaches, upset stomach, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, muscle tension, fatigue, heart palpitations
- Depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty making decisions, angry outbursts, resentment, feelings of powerlessness
- Lost time with friends and loved ones, job burnout, impaired job performance, isolation, relationship loss/difficulties, self-medicating (alcohol consumption on the rise?)
- Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and many more.
Sort it out before poor health takes over your life.
You are here because you know life is beginning to go down the slippery slope of being out of balance, and you’re smart enough to hear the warning bell, and to understand that if you don’t get things sorted the problems could become severe. Once we have ‘diagnosed’ your work-life balance, we will look at solutions that you can actually use. I don’t want this to be another time where you gather some new knowledge, maybe some motivation but you end up changing nothing. If that happens I’ve failed you.
Having looked at things from the individual perspective lets now take a couple of minutes to look at it from the business perspective.
What Is Work Life Balance From The Businesses Perspective
Work life balance is a very important phenomenon that is of great concern to various employers in both private and public sectors. It has implication on employee attitudes, behaviours, performance, wellbeing as well as organizational effectiveness
Poor work life balance is going to hit a company hard.
- Higher rates of absenteeism
- Reduced productivity
- Decreased job satisfaction
- Rising healthcare costs
- Lower levels of organisational commitment and loyalty
- All of which leads to poor customer service
A survey has found that a quarter of small business owners have fallen ill due to stress and overwork
The need for employees and employers to enjoy a reasonable balance between their work and other aspects of their lives is now widely accepted. Work-life balance has been shown to have real business benefits, including:
- Increased efficiency and productivity,
- Improvements in performance and competitiveness,
- Better motivated workforce,
- Lower levels of stress, absenteeism and sickness
- Improved customer service
- Enhance employee motivation and retention
- Support recruitment
Let’s Look At Some Statistics!
Mental Health Foundation Survey
1/3 respondents feel unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work
27% Employees feel depressed
34% Employees feel anxious
58% Employees feel irritable
40% employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work, which may increase their vulnerability to mental health problems when working long hours.
The more hours spent at work, the more hours outside of work are likely to be spent thinking or worrying about work
42% of women report unhappiness
29% of men report unhappiness
2/3 employees have experienced a negative effect on their personal life because of work.
Britons work more hours than anyone else in Europe, according to figures released from the EU’s statistics arm Eurostat. Britons spend an average of 42 hours and 18 minutes a week at work, compared to 40 hours and 24 minutes in Germany, and just 39 hours in France.
Almost half of UK workers (47%) spend the majority of their time feeling overwhelmed by their workloads, while 85% say that work is causing them stress, according to research from employee experience company Qualtrics.
Work/life balance issues affect men as well as women, the old as well as the young, those without families as well as those with families.
The present magnitude of work/life balance issues can hardly be overestimated.
It Is Important To Get Balance
It is clear that a poor work-life balance can result in unhealthy levels of stress, unhappiness, and even reduced productivity. The balance each of us strikes between our different roles is critical to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, achieving balance allows you to perform at your best.
A good work life balance is beneficial to both you as an individual, and collectively as part of a business. Get it right and everyone’s a winner.
In the next section I’m going to read you a story that I believe shows how easily we get it wrong. I first heard this when attending a Tony Robbins workshop in London many years ago.
I hope you took some great value out of this post today! I’d love to hear your feedback, so make sure you leave a comment with your thoughts or questions.