Unlocking success: The key to productivity, well-being and the art of work-life balance
Have you heard of the concept of the ‘Four-Hour Life’ or 4HL? After all, you might just be living it.
This is how it works; you work eight hours and sleep for eight. Your commute, dinner and family time is around four hours. What you have left is four hours in the day for yourself.
How will you use those precious moments? Perhaps you’ll have a hot bath, a drink at your local, or get stuck into a new television series or book. Whatever you do, make it something you love.
Yes, while it’s common knowledge that a healthy work-life balance is great for personal and professional growth, it’s worth reminding ourselves why.
There are many reasons for having interests outside of work that are fulfilling and rejuvenating. Hobbies provide an opportunity for learning and growth, which can boost confidence and improve mental health. Whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument or running, hobbies provide us with a sense of purpose and structure, they are a healthy coping mechanism, which is especially true during difficult times.
New studies are revealing that well-being and mental health have continued to decline in 2023. According to the US-based National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans (57.8 million) were living with severe anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, ResumeLab surveyed 1,000 employees and found that 68 per cent have taken time off work because of a mental health condition, 59 per cent believed it hindered career advancement and 68 per cent worry that it could harm their professional reputation.
However, engaging in hobbies can significantly contribute to professional success. They can help foster transferable skills like leadership, teamwork, or lateral thinking. A team sport might aid collaboration skills, while engaging with art or music might help us become more creative. Having a passion can make us more relatable and interesting, benefiting personal and professional relationships.
Steps toward a healthier work-life balance
There are many steps one might take in the workplace to improve work-life balance. When demands and expectations are too much, speak with management — your employer needs to know where the pressures are to address them. Take a proper break at work and try and leave the office if you can. Try to ‘work smart, not long’ — don’t get caught up in less productive activities like unstructured meetings or admin tasks that can be completed at a later stage.
If you are working from home, create a dedicated desk space and switch off when the day is over.
Employers can support employees achieve a healthy work life balance. An unhealthy work-life balance makes employees less engaged and more likely to take time off. A 2021/22 Health & Safety Executive report found that 36.8 million estimated working days are lost to work-related ill health — stress, depression or anxiety accounted for the majority of them, with 17 million days lost in 2021/22.
Encouraging a culture of openness promotes transparency and enables employees to speak up if they feel under too much pressure.
Offering flexible and remote working opens possibilities for staff to pursue hobbies, while regular catchups to review workload allows managers to shift tasks to others that might have more time.
It’s worth noting that not every employee is the same, and a one-size-fits-all approach to balance might not be suitable. A Gen Z-er won’t have the same requirements of a single parent juggling work and childcare. A tailored approach is best — one-on-one meetings with staff is a great chance to understand what solutions might work for their specific situation.
The pursuit of a harmonious work-life balance is not merely a fleeting aspiration; it is a cornerstone of personal and professional growth. A balanced life equips us with renewed vigour and focus, increasing our efficiency and productivity in the workplace. The interplay of these elements cultivates a holistic and thriving existence, empowering us to excel in our careers while relishing the richness of our personal lives.