It's increasingly difficult to integrate our professional and personal life effectively, to respond to the demands on us and leave time to replenish our energy levels. If you're one of the many people who doesn't give yourself time to do the important things, it's time to make a change.

As the days, weeks, months and years fly by, it's all too easy for our work or home life to take over and leave you feeling out of control, burnt out and exhausted. It's vital to take time out every now and again to ask yourself:

Overall, are you spending your time in the way you want to?

The key word in this question is 'overall'. You'll have to make compromises and some days work or home demands will take up more time than you'd like. Optimum work-life integration is about a high level feeling of balance - that your life has the right focus for you at the right time. Over the period of weeks or months or even a year, this balance works for you and gives you enough 'you time' for your personal wellbeing. There's no set formula - everyone needs to take time to reflect and work out what works for them.

Who is in charge here?

We spend our lives responding to other people's demands on our time; never-ending emails, family, friends, the children's school, cupboards that need filling, presents that need buying. Only a superhero could do it all! And tragically, being busy can be worn like a badge of honour - whereas in fact it can be deeply overwhelming. Rushing from 1 task to another in the long term means it's easy to miss the important things.

Worse still we try to multitask - checking emails at all hours, cooking, texting, helping with homework all at the same time. Research by the renowned neuroscientist Earl Miller shows that it's impossible to multitask. Instead our brains switch quickly between tasks, taking up huge amounts of energy and ultimately leaving us being unproductive and feeling frantic.

In the midst of this switching between tasks, it's easy to lose track of what's important - It's your life - what do you really want to focus on?

Who does it affect?

Anyone who balances demands from work or a voluntary role and home, can benefit from considering their work-life integration and making sure they spend enough time on their own wellbeing refreshing their energy.

We all need to be aware of situations which should trigger us to reflect on our overall work-life balance. Have any of these applied to you recently?

  • Deadlines missed at work
  • Frequently feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list
  • Back-to-back meetings during the day, with no time to refresh your energy
  • Falling asleep is a struggle as your mind is unsettled
  • Missed family or school events, due to work pressures
  • Struggling to switch between work and home life

Allowing these symptoms to continue in the long term can have serious consequences. You could lose touch with relationships that make you happy, not enjoy your work and lose your sense of personal wellbeing.

There are some characteristics which may make you more prone to work and life being knocked out of balance. In particular perfectionists may take up time perfecting a piece of work which maybe doesn't need to be perfect. People pleasers can say yes to all requests from colleagues, family and friends, leaving no time for themselves. Workaholics may spend too long in the office, running on the adrenaline of their vast to-do list. Parents may find their careers decelerate whilst the children are small.

Does this apply to you?

If so, take a few minutes to step back and consider how your work and life are integrated. CABA can also help. 

  1. We offer life coaching to help you reflect on your work-life integration and take small steps to reclaim control and focus in your life
  2. Our free work-life integration course can help you take back control of your time

Call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email enquiries@caba.org.uk or chat online at caba.org.uk/letstalk

The time to live is now! Where are you going to focus your time and energy today?