Wednesday 18 July 2018

How to be more productive at work to restore your work/life balance

When it comes to your work do you think you’re doing a ‘good enough’ job, or are you always looking to improve what you do to get bigger and better results? Self-improvement is, in itself, a positive thing, however often we get caught in the trap where we feel that only the best will do and that we have to produce work that is ‘perfect’ in order to be valued.

The problem is that often when we strive for perfection, it can actually impact on our productivity – as well as on our ability to enjoy ‘down time’ with friends and family. This article from The Guardian is spot on when it says that we must stop striving for perfection and that working hard to get the work life balance right, not only benefits our own wellbeing but can also give our career a boost.

There are many tips to share that can maximise your productivity at work, such as: tackling tough tasks in the morning when we're at our most alert and scheduling regular admin time into our diaries to deal with the more trivial tasks, such as email management and returning calls; not to mention the benefits of taking regular breaks to keep energy levels high and your mind clear and focused. You can read more on improving your summer productivity here.

And if you're serious about redressing the work/life balance, we want you to remember the following:

Strive for great – but not perfection

We all want to do a good job, but there comes a point when our quest for perfection means we can never truly switch off and concentrate on other things. When tasks are completed we continue to ask ourselves: how can I make this better? Or: what have I missed? rather than applaud ourselves on a job well done. It can be hard to let things go at work, but by striving to do a great job, rather than a perfect one, we allow ourselves to move forward from tasks and free our mind to focus on other things – such as time spent with family and friends at home. The same can be said for home tasks too. By putting pressure on ourselves to do things better all the time we increase stress levels when what we need to do is give ourselves a break and learn that sometimes ‘good enough’ is perfectly acceptable.


In order to maintain a healthy work life balance, we have to learn how to carve out time for each – rather than allow the lines to be blurred. We need to focus on them one by one to give each our full attention. Failing to do so means that we're never fully present and do not give our best self. This means it’s much harder to progress, as we become preoccupied and overwhelmed. So when you’re at home, switch off your work phone, if only for an hour. The world isn’t going to end if we go offline for an hour or two. And make a deal with your family and friends that it’s emergency calls only during core work hours.

When it comes to work life balance, there are not many people who feel that the balance is positively tipped towards their home and family life, rather than their work! Yet, having a fulfilling family life serves to benefit the time you spend at work so it makes sense to find the time for family and friends when you can. The saying goes that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – don’t be Jack – do what you need to do to get the balance right.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

How to organise your working week over the school holidays

The summer holidays will soon be upon us. The kids are excited. The parents perhaps less so as the annual quandary around how to juggle work and family commitments and how to keep your young ones entertained for what can seem like endless weeks, again rears its head.

For working parents and carers of school age children, it can be hard to come up with a plan that will enable you to spend quality time with your children and still deliver at work.

The rise in flexible working practices across the UK means that employers are more open to changes in working patterns over the holiday period, so you may find it helpful to discuss some of the options with your manager.

  • Shortening your working week – the idea of working two or three days a week over the summer holidays is a good compromise for childcare and business continuity
  • Working from a home base – if you’re not tied to your office, a spell of home working might enable you to keep an eye on the children while still providing the cover needed at work
  • Splitting your holidays – we know it’s nice to have some family time, but sometimes parents need to consider splitting their holidays to cover the long holiday period. Having two separate weeks, rather than a two-week stretch off work can make the return to work easier too.

For self-employed parents, the holidays bring different challenges. While you're technically free to watch over your children, there is also a need to look after clients and generate new leads. Making smart choices around how to manage your time can help you navigate the summer break without it impacting on your business or your children. We suggest the following:

Prioritise urgent work

It sounds simple but during the holidays we really need to be clear about what needs to be done now and what can wait until the holidays are over.

Extend deadlines where possible

Try and renegotiate deadlines with your clients to make sure your workload remains manageable over the holiday period.

Focus on growth

When you’ve got limited time to work, it’s important not to spend time on tasks that will not support your business growth or add value to what you’re doing.

Our biggest tip for organising your time over the summer holidays is to plan your family time in the same way as you would your work priorities. Get a wall planner. Share it with your children so that you are all clear about what’s happening when. This helps to set realistic expectations and enables your children to take some responsibility for their own free time.

Remember, when it comes to the school holidays:

  • Share the burden and call in favours – you're not the only parent trying to get organised this summer. Speak to fellow parents and carers and see if you can share the care between you on certain days. 
  • It’s ok for children to be bored – we live in a society where we feel the need to keep our children occupied and stimulated 24/7. Think back to your own childhood when playing out and meeting friends in the park was the norm. Don’t be afraid to let your children have some real ‘downtime’ during the holiday – it encourages creative thinking and coping skills.

For more tips, read our previous blogs on encouraging children to be more active and how to get the most out of your summer break. Happy holidays…