Jobs in science can be highly demanding, involving long hours, a stressful workload and mentally-taxing tasks.
While the role itself may be tricky, perhaps the most difficult thing to master is how to juggle work and home life.
Knowing how to balance work and life at home is difficult for anyone, but the added pressure associated with science jobs can put even more strain on the employee.
Here are a few of our favourite tips on how to remain professionally productive without completely burning yourself out along the way.
What is a healthy work-life balance?
The phrase “healthy work-life balance” is commonly bandied about in employment circles, but what does it actually mean?
While the exact definition may vary one person to the next, a work-life balance is essentially the ability to create a synergistic relationship between your everyday home life and your day-to-day profession.
The expression “work to live not live to work” sums this up perfectly. A demanding profession can quickly take over your personal life, if you let it.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be vital for mental health, not to mention a key component in preserving relationships outside of the office.
How to balance work and life
For the career-driven, it can be all too easy to get buried in work at the expense of your home life. As such, knowing how to balance work and life outside of it is an important skill to have.
Luckily, we have a few choice tips on how to do just that.
Aim for the right balance for you
Naturally, working hours can vary greatly from one job to the next and jobs are no different. Meanwhile, different people will also have different tolerance thresholds.
Some of us can work well into the evenings on consecutive days showing little signs of ill-effect, while others may need more regular time out to keep themselves operational.
Above all, you should consider how your current work-life balance feels to you and whether changes should be made in either direction. If demands of work are bleeding over into the home (or vice versa), it may be time to reassess.
Don't get hooked on stress
Stressful situations can cause the body to release a cocktail of stress hormones, including adrenaline. The subsequent adrenaline rush can be an invigorating feeling, leaving you energised and ready to take on the world.
Deadlines, demanding workloads and decreasing time constraints are common stresses in the professional environment which, as such, can also provide a similar adrenaline-fuelled sensation.
However, as effective as adrenaline may be on productivity, you shouldn’t rely on it to fuel you from one day to the next – that’s a sure-fire way to burn out in a hurry.
It's important to learn how to balance work and life in a healthy way – riding a daily adrenaline high to each deadline isn’t the way to do it. Ensure productive preservation by taking time to cool down and mentally reset.
Allow others to lighten the load
A common trait in the workplace – particularly for those who take extreme pride in their work – is the inability to delegate tasks. Science as a whole is a repeat offender.
Across the full range of fields and functions – from pharmacology and immunology to R&D and quality assurance – science is rife with people who are reluctant to give up responsibilities, despite knowing that they are overworked.
If this sounds like you, don't allow pride to keep you under pressure. If your workload is overflowing, ask your colleagues to take over some of your duties. Remember, many hands make light work.
Distinguish clearly between home and the workplace
Do you take your work home with you? If so, it could be a glaring warning beacon that your work-life balance is in danger of capsizing.
While it can be unavoidable at times – and virtually impossible if you work remotely – regularly working at home can be a slippery slope to reside on. It can be all too easy to slip into a pattern of clocking off only to fire up the laptop and clock back in when you arrive home.
Over time, those working hours can creep up far beyond where they should be, inadvertently taking priority over relaxing and recharging. Worse still, it can just as easily begin to replace time spent with loved ones as well.
Differentiating between work and play can be the ultimate component in keeping work and home lives separate.
If you do need to work at home – whether it’s a permanent arrangement or merely a one-off – try to keep your work time confined to designated space, such as an office room.
This will help you to recognise how much time is spent dedicated to work, while also preventing your home from becoming an extension of your working environment.
Make the most of the weekend
Any sportsman will tell you that downtime is just as important as hard work when it comes to achieving and maintaining peak performance. The same applies when it comes to working life.
Even if you can only spare one or two weekends a month for guilt-free relaxation, make sure you do it. Whether you spend it chilling out with friends, crashed out in front of the TV or in a new city on a well-deserved break, be sure to leave work in the rear-view mirror.
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