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Achieving a life/work balance

Achieving a life/work balance - Jane Ogden

Posted on: February 21, 2020

I was an irritating student throughout both my degree and PhD who managed to go out dancing when my friends were stuck in frantically meeting deadlines or revising into the early hours.  Even now, many years later, I hang on to a (fairly) healthy work life balance - even if there are less places to dance.   This is because I learned the following 3 things:

Either work or don’t work.  Don’t sit at your desk pretending to work, thinking about work, working badly or doing something else a bit like work but not work.  And DON’T have your social life but worry about work.  If you are not working properly, stop working.  If you are not working but worrying about work – work.  So be black and white, have rules about time, have reasonable rules and work productively then stop and have a life.

Break work down into manageable chunks.  2000 words is overwhelming.   My textbook is 300,000 – that’s really overwhelming.  So write a series of headings breaking it up into 500 word chunks.  Do a chunk a day and watch the word count click up in a bearable way without feeling overwhelmed.

Do something every day.  Ideally have whole days to work.  If not have half days.  But life isn’t always like that and often work has to be fitted in around the edges of what else needs to be done.  So if you are multi tasking, open up the document you are working on first thing in the morning.  Let it sit there.  Then whenever you have any time flick over to it and do a bit of work.  Surprisingly as the days go by the essay / chapter / book will get finished and multi tasking will become easier to manage.

I work in health psychology and research shows that changing health related behaviours comes from planning, boundaries and targets.  When we work we also need to plan our time, boundaries around our work and life and targets to meet.  These three lessons will encourage planning, boundaries and targets and enable you also to be irritating to your friends and go dancing at the end of a productive and guilt free day!