Top tips to help you achieve the elusive harmony between work and play
September 4, 2023

Top tips to help you achieve the elusive harmony between work and play

6 tops tips to help you achieve a work-life balance. Written by Holly McCone, Consultant, Bristol

Amid the UK summer holidays, when many of us will try to unwind (and hopefully spot the sun), this post on 'how to achieve the elusive harmony between work and play' felt particularly fitting. Disclaimer: Remember the work-life balance switch is not only to be turned on during the summer season – it's a 365-day consideration.  

Let me rewind a few years, to envision myself in full-time corporate life…  

Five days a week, eight hours a day, glued to the desk, my mind shackled by work till Friday 5 pm. Then starting my career, I also had the perception that clocking endless hours signalled value to your company – a somewhat disheartening notion.  

And just days into my Lancia journey – this previous fallacy shattered!  

It's evident that corporate culture is evolving and gone are the days when companies solely rely on productivity metrics. We now have a more holistic measure of success – great results and employee well-being. We must find an equilibrium between our professional and personal pursuits to attain this.    

At Lancia, we try our best to achieve this philosophy and encourage others to do so, so why not share more about what we believe and do?  

The 'Always available status.'

To always be available is impossible, and who wants to be!? You blur boundaries with colleagues and clients, you'll constantly struggle to separate office and home life, you will always feel pressure to perform, and you can start to lose quality sleep dealing with work late into the evening.  

Define your preferred working hours in your calendar to be seen by all. If it's 8:30 – 5:30 or 9-6, show this. Give colleagues a chance to see your preferred hours and boundaries.  

And remember, sending emails late in the evening gives recipients permission to respond and expect you to be available at unconventional times. (If necessary, set a scheduled send for appropriate working hours).  

The power of saying no

Finding the right time to politely decline extra tasks or meetings that may jeopardize our work-life balance is tricky and uncomfortable but an important skill to learn.  

Sometimes it's necessary to accept a last-minute call, tackle an extra task, or finish the day a little later than usual. But, if a perpetually unfinished to-do list or persistent feelings of exhaustion dampen your motivation, it's time to reassess your workload.  

Immy, one of our Consultants, grappled with the "power of saying no" upon joining Lancia. She took on every request and opportunity as a new team member eager to please. However, she soon realised this unsustainable path led her to work too many hours, and signs of stress started to show.  

Gradually, Immy got more comfortable with the art of saying no through practice and tenacity – and now can swiftly evaluate her workload and decide whether to accept more!  

The office Cinderella

The classic tale of having to wait till midnight (or maybe 7 pm) until your manager leaves to be able to slip away unnoticed.  

At Lancia, we typically follow a 9-6 workday. Yet, our approach hinges on sound judgment. If we've had a productive day, achieved our goals, and are satisfied, it could be time to wrap up a bit earlier. Conversely, if the day has been unproductive and focus wanes, trusting our instincts to work a little longer is critical in deciding when to call it a day.  

This practice means there is time for rejuvenation during the week and ensuring a fresh start the next day. You may also dedicate an extra hour to support a colleague or pick up an additional internal task – this is equally about balance.  

At Lancia, we're entrusted to make honest decisions for ourselves and the people we work with. Not every day has to be the same if it doesn't need to be – I really enjoy this.  

The weekend warrior

Imagine having to live for the weekend because you couldn't have a social life during the working week. Embracing the "weekend warrior" mentality can result in spending unproductive time off or the frenzy of over commitment which leads to exhaustion by the time Monday comes around.  

Don't get me wrong, often I arrive home after work, and there's nothing I want more than to put on my pyjamas, make something yummy for tea, and curl up on the sofa to watch the latest reality TV escapades!  

However, there's always an opportunity for planned and impromptu after-work socials at Lancia. Be it a book club rendezvous, a local libation, a group jog, or a basketball or squash game (a venture I'm yet to explore), there's an option for everyone on the team.  

Unplug and unwind

Fear of taking holidays or days off is a common concern among employees. But we need to remind ourselves that the project isn't going to crumble if we enjoy a long weekend.  

Picture this; you book a weeklong holiday, you're lying on a sunny beach, toes in the sand, sipping a colourful concoction, eyes gently closing, then bzzz bzzz - 'Sandra' from the office is emailing you with the latest project updates. AHHH!  

We need to learn to unplug and disconnect when taking intentional time off. Disable work-related notifications and submerge yourself in downtime. It helps to let your mind recharge to perform at your best when you're back at work.  

Stress and burnout

The most important message to convey when discussing work-life balance is what could happen if we don't consciously try to keep the equilibrium.  

Often, stress and burnout can threaten even the most resilient individuals, but by gradually making changes and getting to a place of great work-life balance that suits you, the shield that minuses stress and fends off burnout is strengthened.  

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