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Work-life balance: Have you worked out your priorities?

In our 24/7 society, fuelled by constant busyness, the topic of work-life balance is often discussed by employers and employees. The New Economics Foundation in their report on well-being at work succinctly describe “work-life balance” as “the point at which personal and work lives meet, and sometimes clash”.

In addition to providing an income, work for many people is a fundamental part of their lives and they are happy with this situation. Research also shows work is generally good for health and well-being, depending on the nature and quality of the work. For some people, difficulties can arise when work demands (which may include working outside of official working hours to keep on top of work) conflict with the other parts of life. For example, one third of people who took part in a Mental Health Foundation survey were unhappy or very unhappy with the time they devoted to work.

Excessive work demands can result in insufficient time to fully pay attention to or engage with the many other important parts of life such as family, leisure time and voluntary work. The constant juggling of these various parts of life can be difficult and may lead to stress, and according to Mental Health Foundation survey, over 40% of employees are neglecting the non-work parts of their lives due to work, which may result in vulnerability to mental health problems.

We all need to make choices about the parts of our lives that we value and the time we can devote to the various parts of our lives. Of course, it is not possible to live a life that is in perfect "balance" each day. However, you can work out what your life looks like now and how you would like it to be, in terms of the importance and value you attach to the various parts of your life. A useful tool to help you carry out this analysis is the Wheel of Life. After carrying out your analysis, you can take steps to improve the focus you give to the areas of your life which you have neglected or are struggling to manage, as well as addressing time management issues. Developing strategies to focus on your priorities and improve your time management, can also help you cope with stress.

So, rather than talking about work-life balance, is it time for you to take a fresh look at your life and work out your priorities?


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