If your 9-5 looks more like a 5-9, it might be time to take a look at how you can make more time for yourself. Try these 4 habits for a little more freedom and a happier working week.
Do you find you’re missing that gym class because you can’t tear yourself away from the keyboard? Or are you always coming home to a half-finished home improvement project that you can’t ever seem to get around to? It’s time to treat your personal schedule with the same respect you’d give your professional one.This is especially important for protecting those activities that bring you the most happiness – be it taking the time to catch up with a friend over dinner, joining that spinning class or even relaxing with a good book.
Plan your free time, every day, with the same rigour you would your working day – and stick to it. Put appointments in your calendar or diary – whether that appointment says ‘yoga class’, ‘dinner’ or just ‘Me. Netflix. Sofa’.
Blending who you are outside the office with who you are when you’re at your desk might be a little easier than you think. For some, it might be a power-ballad playlist to power you through your admin tasks, a little aromatherapy boost to your workspace, your favourite food for lunch or even the company of your dog while you work.
Whoever we are, there’s always something that brings us an extra bit of happiness, comfort and relaxation. Bringing some of those things into work can be easier than you think.
Take 15 minutes to make a list of some of the simple things that make you happiest. Warm jumpers, great sandwiches, fresh air, the music of Toto… Then, see how you can bring those things to work.
There’s always the temptation to keep going and tick one more thing off the list – often when we feel as though something awful will happen if we don’t. In truth, this is rarely the case – so when you’ve hit your target number of working hours for the day, just… stop. It really can be that simple.
For some people, setting the end of the working day as a hard stop can be really motivating too – if you’re someone who responds well to a deadline, you might find you’re getting more done in less time. Upping your productivity, and getting your evenings back? Yes please!
Give a time-tracking app a whirl. There are tons of free ones you could try. Give yourself 2 weeks of really honest tracking to see how much time you spend working, how much on leisure activities and how much resting. Make sure you count all those out-of-hours emails – when you have a truly honest reflection of how your time breaks down, you can see if you need to change the ratio.
People genuinely do work to different rhythms, so don’t feel your hours need to be 9-5 just because everyone else’s are. This is true even in big businesses – a study by the CIPD showed 83% of businesses reported increased productivity after introducing flexible working.
And this approach benefits everyone. While for some, the most common hours really will work best for them, by giving that extra flexibility, you can take a huge amount of pressure off. No-one needs the extra stress of worrying about running ‘late’. And if that sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to shake up the way you think about the working day.
Experimenting with your day’s structure for the next 2 weeks – find a pattern that works for you. For a lot of people, this can vary by season too, so give yourself time to check this again every few months.
Looking for a few new ways to feel happy at work? We put together a book of 32 tips for a happier workplace with our friends at WeWork – get your free copy.