7 tips to help flexible working work for you
Whether you’re an office worker or working for yourself, here are some tips to help you make the most of flexible working to get the best work-life balance.
When it’s at its best, flexible working sounds like living the dream. Working in the office when you need to, at home or on the move when you don’t, helping you to get that elusively perfect work-life balance.
But in practice, working flexibly can sometimes seem more like working constantly, contributing to stress, overwork and less efficient use of your time. Research by Investec Private Banking found that 22% of professionals are unhappy with their work-life balance, so it’s worth taking some time to focus on how flexible working can work best for you.
1. Get connected
Keeping in touch with the office by phone and email is all very well, but you can use technology to make the process even more effective. Business apps from O2 like Microsoft Office 365 and Box can help you back up and share your work online, so your colleagues can view, review and contribute to it. Office 365 also comes with Skype for Business so you can make video calls and share your screen and presentations with as many colleagues as you need to.
O2 Just Call Me lets you set up hassle-free conference calls – people just dial your number without the need for pin numbers or codes and you can decide who to accept onto the call. Make technology work for you so you can make the most of your time out of the office.
2. Set boundaries
Since flexible working hit the mainstream, too many have felt the temptation to be always available. It’s a laudable aim, but not always good for your health or wellbeing. If you never get a chance to switch off you could also be impacting your ability to work at your best. So set your working hours and stick to them as much as possible. And make sure everyone knows about them. If you’re available at any other times it should be a bonus, not the norm, and everyone knows what to expect. Your loved ones (and eventually, even your manager or your clients) will thank you for it.
3. Do a time audit
Make a list of what you’re spending your time on and take stock. Are you really spending enough time on the things you need to? Or are you spending too much time on things that aren’t really necessary? Make a list of five things that you consider time well spent and use them as a basis to focus on the things you should.
4. Stop procrastinating
We all do it. And we all know we should do less of it. Are you avoiding that task because it’s difficult, or too easy, or just boring? If you’ve been putting something off, examine the task at hand, figure out what’s stopping you getting into it and find a way to work through it.
5. Take mini breaks
You’ll need them to charge and refocus and keep yourself working efficiently so you can knock off at that time you set yourself, rather than just trail off into a self-critical slide towards the end of the day. And if you can, use the weekends for rest and recuperation, not a guilt trip because you’re worried about catching up on work.
6. Time yourself
If you’re about to get into something that may steal your time, like social media or internet research, time yourself for a set period so you don’t get distracted and overrun.
7. Set deadlines – or don’t
If you’re the sort of person who gets motivated by onrushing deadlines, be sure to set some of your own for each element of work you need to do. Or if you prefer to give yourself plenty of time and work steadily through, that’s fine too. But figure out which approach is best for you and make sure you use it.