7 steps to work/life balance


work stress

It can be hard to achieve a comfortable balance between life and work. For many people their job is more than just a means of earning the money necessary to pay the bills. It’s also how they fulfil their ambitions, learn new skills and the source of many friendships. Work is very closely related to a person’s sense of worth and self-esteem. For many it’s so much part of their identity that a period of unemployment can be devastating.

Most of our waking day is at work and people often spend more time with their colleagues than they do with their loved ones. While this may be an inevitable fact of life, advances in technology now mean that the working day is spilling into people’s home lives as the office is portable via laptops, mobile phones and internet connections. Achieving the evasive work/life balance is particularly important when you’re in a new relationship, so here are some suggestions to help you do just that.

1.      Prioritise your life

Sometimes people are swept along in the stream of life and forget to stop and ask themselves what’s really important to them. In her book ‘Life Lessons’ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed people in a hospice at the end of their lives and asked them what they had learnt about life and what regrets they had. Without exception people said that they wished they’d spent more time with loved ones and wished they’d been less preoccupied with work and money. No-one said that they wished they had worked longer hours, owned a bigger house or a flashier car.

2.      Have times when you are off duty

It’s good to work hard and with concentration, commitment and enthusiasm but this dedication to your job will only pay off if you have part of each day when you are completely off duty. Exercise, socialising, fun and recreation aren’t time wasters, they are essential if you want to be able to perform well at your job and sustain your energy. Trouble in your relationship can be hugely distracting at work so use the time when you are with your partner to really nurture the bond between you – it will sustain you when you need to work hard.

3.      Include your partner in your work

Obviously most people won’t be able to take their partner to work but it is possible to make them feel like they are part of your work life by talking to them about projects, dilemmas and developments you’re facing. Obviously it would become quite boring if work was all you talked about but it is important that your partner doesn’t feel excluded from your life at work.

4.      Share the burden

When times are hard and the threat of redundancy or economic insecurity is in the air it can be very stressful. Many people fall into the trap of trying to deal with the stress of work on their own, in an effort to protect their partner from the worry. Intimacy is developed through shared experiences and even if you don’t tell your partner your concerns, they are likely to sense that something is troubling you. If you don’t tell them the real reason they may conclude that you’re not happy with the relationship.

5.      Broaden your horizons

Work life often interferes with relationships when someone is very unhappy with their job and their dissatisfaction spills out into their relationship. Instead of focusing on the negative, talk to your partner about what your dreams and ambitions are for the future. If you know where you want to be you could start making small steps towards getting there, which will make your unhappy situation at work more bearable.

6.      Have a mission statement as a couple

Many expectations in relationships are often unspoken and people don’t know where the boundaries are until they’ve crossed them. Decide as a couple to have boundaries which protect your relationship from your mutual work lives. This could mean turning phones and laptops off for the evening, planning shared vacations or agreeing to only talk about work for an hour at the end of the day. Whatever you decide, the key is to stick to these rules for the best interests of your relationship.

7.      When there is no work and money is tight

If you, or your partner, face a period of unemployment it can place tremendous strain on the relationship. It’s often through times of hardship that the true bonds of intimacy are developed. If you can pull together and work through it the chances are your relationship will become stronger as a result.

Remember – it is better to work to live than live to work.


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