With flexible working hours, work-from-home arrangements, and contracting positions becoming more commonplace across the board, the distinction between work time and home time is more blurred than ever. In an age where being switched on 24/7 is the norm, it’s crucial to set your own boundaries to ensure you’re maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Here’s how.

Choose a company with the right policies 

The company you choose to work for should have policies that respect employees’ personal time. Whether it be the ability to take time off in lieu after working overtime, taking time off for personal engagements and making that time up later, or even initiatives such as birthdays off, you should make sure that organisational policies show that the company cares about and values its employees’ need for time off – even if long hours are the norm.

Use flexible working arrangements to your advantage 

If you know that your company allows flexible working arrangements, don’t be shy about making them work for your schedule. Need to go to the dentist? Make sure you have no meetings scheduled one morning so you can take a couple of hours off and make it up later. Babysitter called in sick? Work from home if your schedule allows it.

As long as you’re utilising flexible working policies reasonably, there’s no reason not to use them. In fact, it’s critical that you do use them, as they allow you to take time for yourself when needed, particularly if you find yourself working outside the 9-5 on a regular basis.

Set yourself ground rules for working 

While you might still be receiving emails or phone calls at 11pm, you need to set yourself some boundaries and establish a cut-off time for work hours. Although there may be exceptions when an urgent late-night meeting or phone call has to happen, they should be a rarity rather than a regular occurrence. Set yourself a time to switch off each day and stick to it – it’s important to maintain autonomy over your personal time.

Identify your priorities 

Take time to consider what your most important priorities are in each aspect of your life – work, family, friends, and yourself. It’s all too common to realise that so much time and effort has been put into work that family, friends, and ‘me’ time being neglected.

Identify practical steps you can take to achieve a more balanced lifestyle in line with your priorities. It might be setting aside time to go to the gym, making sure you have time free to eat dinner with the family each night, or organising activities with friends. Your work responsibilities will always be present, so it’s up to you to make sure your other priorities are given the attention they need – your career and work life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Utilise spare time when you have it 

On those rare occasions when there is a lull in your workload, use that time to do something you enjoy and that fulfils one of your other priorities. If you look objectively at how much time and effort you’ve put into your workload, you’ll probably realise that you’ve already gone above and beyond – so use that precious free time wisely.

For more practical tips, take a look at the Michael Page Career Advice page.

Summary

When flexible working arrangements are the norm, it’s more important than ever to set boundaries for a healthy work-life balance. Here’s how:

  • Choose a company that values its employees’ personal time
  • Make flexible working arrangements work for your schedule
  • Set yourself work limits and stick to them
  • Get your priorities in order and take steps to ensure they’re nurtured
  • Utilise rare free time wisely
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