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Work to live or live to work?

Insight

26 May 2016

5

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How do you achieve a work/life balance?

The England Cricket team produced an emphatic performance to beat Sri Lanka in the opening game of the Test Match series last week. Notable mentions must go to Jonny Bairstow, England’s wicketkeeper-batsman who scored a staggering 140 runs; Alex Hales who scored 86 runs and bowler James Anderson who took a remarkable 10 wickets in the match. This convincing victory has added to the side’s momentum from victorious tours in early 2016. One reason underpinning the side’s success may be their successful player utilisation, specifically in reference to balancing their work and personal life.

Neither Bairstow nor Anderson were chosen for the One Day Internationals and Twenty20 matches against South Africa in February; nor were they involved in the World Cup in March and April, even though both could arguably have staked a claim to be involved in the respective squads. Furthermore, Hales recently opted against playing the first two county matches of the season for Nottinghamshire, a risky move with England selection potentially pending. However, he felt that a short break from cricket was a priority, explicitly stating that he needed to ‘switch off, after feeling mentally tired.’

As a result, the players have had a healthier balance between their personal and working lives; which after their performances last week, would seem highly beneficial to the team.

 

In contrast, Ben Stokes has continuously been involved in all three formats of the game this year, without really having a significant amount of time away from cricket. Whilst Stokes has played his part in the team’s phenomenal success, an insufficient balance between his personal and work life may actually prove to be a recipe for a decline in performance. For instance, reports have speculated that Stokes will miss the rest of the series against Sri Lanka due to injury. Could this be a result of an excessive playing schedule this year and will this have psychological implications? Perhaps.

Having an unstable work/life balance can be detrimental in the workplace. For example, Anthony Horta Osorio, CEO of Lloyds Bank, was signed off work in late 2011 for medical reasons, explicitly for stress and extreme fatigue; whilst Jeffrey Kindler resigned as Chief Executive of Pfizer altogether in 2010 to ‘recharge his batteries’.

One common theme which has arisen within this area is that any signs of stress or fatigue are sneered at; with the individual feeling as though the symptoms will be seen as signs of weakness - especially in high-pressure environments.

However, we feel that it’s actually okay to admit feeling stressed and that individuals shouldn’t feel as though they’re being perceived as ‘weak’ because of that. As ably demonstrated by Alex Hales, performance can still flourish after spending less time working. Therefore, it’s important that individuals do not feel as though they need to hide the fact that they may need a break or require a less rigorous schedule in order to achieve balance.

So how can you get a balance between personal life and work?

Here are just a few tips to help you balance out your work and personal life:

  • Avoid checking emails before/after work

With a typical working day lasting approximately 8 hours (not including travel time), you need to be able to switch off from work. Distance yourself from your mobile phone to reduce the likelihood of reading work emails. Regular exercise can help to substitute this; allowing you to unwind and providing important health benefits for the body and mind alike.

 

  • Take a holiday

With the summer holiday period upon us, look to book some time off of work. This can help you to switch off and earn some well-deserved rest. It’s likely you’ll discover a newfound commitment and desire to your work when you return!

 

  • Change it up

There’s no harm in altering your typical daily routine with different tasks. This helps to engage the brain whilst allowing you to take part in something you’re not used to. Jonny Bairstow, for instance, trained with Newcastle Football Club’s goalkeeping coaches prior to the game against Sri Lanka. This helped to complement his wicket keeping skills in a different way. In your job, are you able to attend development workshops and exhibitions where you can have the opportunity to network with people from other industries? This can allow you to gain valuable insight and learn other techniques which you could implement into your team and workplace.

 

How do you cope with balancing work and personal life? How do you help your employees or colleagues strike a balance between their personal and work life in your organisation?

 

 

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