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Today's Podcast Episode

 Hi and welcome to today's podcast episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. I'm looking forward to having a lovely chat with you today about work life balance and how to get more balance in your life if you need it. So I'm settling in.

Ok, where there's a bit of a culture shock coming back from Spain where it's just hot and sunny every day. It's really weird just to come back to Ireland and be like, oh, yeah, it's, it's normal for it to be cloudy the whole time. Like it's not a, it's not a bad day. It's not a bad weather day when it's cold and cloudy. It's Ireland on saying that though. I think if that is all we have to put up with living in Ireland, the bad weather or whatever, I don't even want to call it bad weather weather. Then I think we're really lucky. I think we're so lucky to live in Ireland for those of you tuning in that live in Ireland. I think it's a wonderful, peaceful, mostly safe place. I love it so much. I feel so at home here and I love how much nature there is in Ireland. I just love it. I think it's an amazing place and I feel very, very lucky to live here.

I also feel very blessed to live here when we look around the world and I see all the weather stuff going on with fires and the heat. I do feel very blessed and very lucky to live in Ireland and I'm determined this winter to get on my raincoat and to get on my rain gear and still do the things that I want to do. I have this dream where I hike once a week and I go and I get tea and scones somewhere lovely with a roaring fire. And I don't care about the weather. That's what I want. I want to get to a point where the weather does not affect me. If I want to go for a sea, swim in the rain, I'll go and do it. If I want to go for a hike up Diamond Hill, I'll do it and I'll get soaked and then we'll all change our clothes and go to Ballynahinch Castle for a cup of tea or scones.

Or doesn't even have to be that fancy, some lovely cafe down the road. And that's my absolute dream for this year. Um, I attempted it last year. I bought the rain gear. However, I didn't get really many hikes in at all. So I really want to do that this year. I want to talk to you about work life balance today and just to share with you a couple of strategies for balancing work and family and personal life. It's a lot as a woman over 40 whether you're in your forties, fifties, sixties beyond, we have so many things to think about whether it's being a good mom, being a good friend, taking care of our house working. And I feel like a lot of our personal stuff gets dropped, like a lot of my personal stuff gets dropped. And I'm currently a work in progress is always addressing my work life balance.

When I used to own a gym, pre COVID, you know, we closed down because of COVID and I moved online and it was the most wonderful thing I've done. I love being online. I, I love what I do now. I love, love, love the thrive coaching program that I have and all my clients. And, um, I'm so glad I don't own a gym anymore. However, when I owned a gym, I had more work life boundaries up. Then I did when I moved into the online program. So I started my online program at the beginning of COVID and I had no boundaries whatsoever, set up in my life at all. I was all about work. Um, no boundaries, you know, you could contact me anywhere, any time on whatsapp, Facebook messenger, email, um, phone call. Um, and I didn't address it at all and because I didn't address it, it led to me having nothing else going on in my life apart from work for, for a good while and so many negative things came out of me not having a work life balance.

So I put work first for a while and everything kind of centered around work. I would work as much as I could and I noticed that I even filled my lunch breaks and my coffee breaks with work. Like I would close down a computer and then I would straight away almost automatically without knowing, find myself on my emails, on my phone, on my coffee break or I would do the same with social media. Like I would check in on my social media, comment to everybody, you know, check that the reels were being posted, scheduled, all that kind of stuff and then close my computer, go get a cup of coffee, sit out in the garden and go on to Instagram and check my work stuff. Um And other ways it negatively impacted me was back when I was still drinking alcohol through COVID at the weekend because I worked so hard during the week and I didn't do really anything else other than work, I just would go bananas at five o'clock on Friday, like get it into me.

Wine just bang bang, bang The same with food. Like everything for me was just in excess and a part of it was just the stress, the stress I was putting myself under with work and not having anything outside of work. And I put all this pressure on myself. I made it so that I had no boundaries. I was completely responsible for all this. And what I noticed when I was in Spain for the month and it was really sunny is that it's so much easier in a hotter climate to do nothing. Like it's so much easier to grab your book and to sit in the garden and for two hours to go by and you're not even to notice it. However, I feel like living in a colder climate, we need to practice doing nothing way more and we need to be so much more intentional with us. I've noticed that I find it really, really difficult to sit still and do nothing or to like read a book during the day in Ireland because the, because of the weather because you don't have that relaxing heat coming down on your body. Like just naturally relaxing you, it's a little bit different. Like going to sit in your living room or your kitchen and say you'll do nothing and then you just look around you or I look around me and I'm like, ok, I could clean the oven. Ok. I could clean the floor.

Ok. The washing machine needs to be done and if it's not chores, if it's not household chores, I think sure, I may as well just work. Sure, I may as well just plan my podcasts for the next few weeks. So there's a lot of things going on with, for me, for example, and maybe with you with work life balance. It's not always just as simple as saying, well, I have all this stuff to do and I'm not getting enough time to do it. It's also from a lack of boundaries and it's also sometimes from a lack of something else to do which we don't talk about very much that well, I I'm just going to work because I don't want to sit still. So I feel that there's so many things we need to address to get a good work life balance.

And some of them are stress, anxiety and inability to sit still and inability to be bored, struggling to read a fiction book, an inability to say no, an inability to have boundaries up to put yourself first. You know, I was watching Unforgotten. It's a series um on, I think it's on the RT E player now, series five. And the cop, like the British police woman, there was somebody down to meet her at reception and she turned to her colleague and her colleague said, oh, there's somebody down to meet you at reception. And the police officer said, OK, cool. Tell him I'll be down in 20 minutes and I just turned to Joe and was like, wow, is that boundaries or what?

And it's so inspiring, great. I'm I'm busy. She was on her computer, she was doing work and she was like, I'll be down in 20 minutes. I have to get this finished first and it just got me thinking that work life, work life balance as well. It's also fear of being judged, fear of missing out on something if you put yourself first, fear of not being good enough or being perceived as not being good enough. And I have realized that there are so many reasons to my lack of work life balance or the work life balance that I had that wasn't so good. Um And let's come up with ways in which we can improve our work life balance. So I really want you in this episode to just be thinking about small, tiny little steps that you can do to improve your work life balance. Um And this is gonna really help your overall well being, it's going to in a positive way, impact your physical health, your mental health and your relationships. And I mean, what kind of life do we have if all we're doing is working and doing chores and being like a parent or a carer, what kind of life do we have if we're just working, working, working the whole time and not taking time off and laughing and having fun. And I know for me that there's areas in my life that I could definitely improve upon.

For example, I could work on intimacy, intimacy being like that kind of gentle, gentle, intimate chat with somebody or that physical touch with somebody where you're not stressed or anxious or rushed, where you're relaxed and you're taking your time and you're having lovely chats or you might be holding each other's hand just being gentle with each other. I know that can come out that needs to be nurtured. I need to nurture that side of me. I also know that when I improve my work life balance and I focus on having more fun in my life, more enjoyment in my life, allowing myself to read more books, allowing myself to take time out. But actual time out, not one hand on my emails or work on the other hands, taking time out, but actual time out. And I've come to realize that I get fearful when I take time out, I get fearful that I won't be good enough that people will leave me and I don't want to be led by fear anymore.

I don't want to look back on my life and realize that so much of my decision making was centered around fear of losing something or fear of being judged or fear of being not good enough or fear of not being perceived as working hard enough. And I hear it myself, I say to people, you know, yesterday when I was working really hard and then, you know, recently I've been reflecting, I'm like, why do I constantly tell people how hard I was working? I don't need to tell people how hard I work. It doesn't even need to be said, who am I proving that to? And so what if it looks like I don't work? So what if it looks like I sit on the couch every day, all day?

It doesn't matter what other people think I need to design my life and be proud of my work ethic, but not show it or congratulate it. This congratulating busines, congratulating like working hard. I'm going to get rid of that in my life. And I focus on living my life on being happy, on having hobbies, on laughing and enjoying myself, of being fulfilled in work of serving my clients of, of delivering a terrific program. However, delivering a terrific program, working at delivering a terrific program and then finishing at a certain time and and finishing, you know, I did so many like Facebook lives and tiktok lives over COVID um on my Instagram and whatever my, my social media accounts.

And I look back now and I'm like, why, why did I do that? What, what drives me sometimes to do things? Um And it's, it's low self esteem. It's, it's fear I would work so many hours in the day and deliver a great program. And then I would finish at five o'clock in the evening time only to jump on like a tiktok of Facebook live for a half an hour, four days a week. Like where's the self love in that? Where's the Jessica take the time out? You've just put in a solid day work. I mean, there's so many things like that frustrate me about myself that I haven't quite cracked yet. And the time for me now to really embrace who I am and accept who I am and be proud of who I am and to embrace the other areas of my life is now. And if you're listening to this and you also have a poor work life balance, like first off, figure out why you do have a work life balance and make sure that you really know why.

Like when I dug deep, I have come to realize that my work life balance was off because I was being driven by fear of not being good enough and being like feeling that I should keep working as hard as possible and also filling up my time because I was afraid to sit down and be still. So they are the reasons, some of the reasons why my work life balance was off. However, when I first looked at it and when I was first journaling around this, I thought, oh yeah, my work life balance is off because I just have so much work to do. But that's in a way, the easy way out. And I, I do understand by the way, if you're listening to this and that actually is your issue, I, you know, I, I totally understand that I have many clients that just have so much work to do and that's it. It's just the, the industry that they're in or whatever.

However, if you're listening to this and it's, and it runs a little bit deeper, then figure out what those deeper things are. Um, because it really is well worth it and really rewarding to know um what's driving you, what's keeping you at work, what's stopping you from, from completely switching off? And if it's fear, do you want to be driven by fear or do you want to practice being brave and courageous and sticking to your guns on a couple of things? Um So let's chat about um improving the work life balance and how we can improve the work life balance. And my first tip is to um identify the areas like look at the signs and indicators of a work life imbalance like such as burnout, increased stress, neglecting yourself, your self care, your hobbies, like first look there, first, look at your week and, and look for the signs that your act that you actually have a work life balance and reflect on your own life now and identify the areas where the balance is, is lacking.

That's what I would first do. It all comes down to first off reflecting and figuring out where the work life imbalance is. And next up, ask yourself, what can you do? What first off self care practices can you put into your daily routine? What what self care practices can you do that are going to make you feel a little bit better? So step one, know, know what the work life imbalance is. And step two, ask yourself what small little tiny action steps can you put in now that will help with your self care. For example, a longer shower in the morning, taking longer time to get dressed, having an actual coffee break, having an actual lunch break, opening up your planner and adding in little pockets of self care. Can you, I don't know if you can get a massage. Can you go and book a facial or can you just go and get your nails done for a half an hour? Like can you ring a friend? Can you meet a friend? I would start off with there, I would start off just adding a little bit of self care. And next up, the next step for me would be then to set boundaries and look at your time management. So let's talk about boundaries first where I struggled with the most was too many channels for people contacting me. Um As you know, some of you listening in, we had a whatsapp group.

We had a Facebook group and emails, phone calls, text messages and it was just way too much. Um And now in our amazing legendary community group, we put everything in one place and we have our members group and then there's a chat within that members group. So if you can somehow, if you're working with people or um you've got a team or whatever it is, figure out how you can streamline everything and people can only contact you in one place. It's going to become a lot more easy for you to have boundaries. And it's a little bit like what I talk about with the nutrition, like not relying on willpower, like willpower doesn't really work when you're tired and cranky and not in the mood. And I tried whatsapp on Willpower. I tried to not check whatsapp at certain times, but it didn't work for me because when my willpower was low and I got a little notification or even when I turn my notifications off, I just get too nosy and I just want to look at my whatsapp and see has anybody whatsapp. So it didn't work for me just trying willpower alone saying, oh, between the hours of six and 10, I won't go on my whatsapp.

It just didn't work for me. So what did work for me was getting rid of whatsapp and getting rid of other channels that people can contact me having one channel and then focusing on my boundaries within that channel, um which is paid off so much and I'm so much happier and I love jumping on the channels that I've actually, um, that I've actually said, ok, well, this is where we're going to chat and it's, it's absolutely wonderful. Um, another area that I had to set boundaries on was when I was working. Um, and this is like a work in progress. I can still slip back to old habits, but like working on your computer and then switching off your computer and working on your phone. I mean, you're still working, it doesn't matter what device you're doing it on, you're working. Work is work. Um, so figuring out for me, it was figuring out what time do I start? Work? And that's not work, work and work like there's just work, um, like checking your emails first thing in the morning, you probably would say, well, that's not work, work, that's just checking my emails, but that's work. So let's try and get rid of the work, work and the work and just say it's all work.

The second year, looking at your work or talking about work, you're working. So make it really simple for yourself. When you're not looking, talking doing or thinking about work, then you're not working. But I got into this really bad cycle of thinking that if I wasn't sitting on a desktop, I wasn't working and that's just not true. So looking at the boundaries of when you actually work when you don't work are really, really important time management techniques is my next tip, figuring out what you can do less of and the things that you do do doing them really well, I use as a, as my project management tool and it was just flooded, flooded with stuff. Um So I decided a few months ago to get rid of some stuff that I found were less useful for my clients and really double down on the things that I know provide the most value and that's really paid off. Um The program has improved because of it. However, I only really was able to do that by reflecting and taking stock and figuring out that I was in fact being driven by fear, being driven by not being good enough. So I was rushing around trying to deliver all these sorts of things, all these different things.

And when I really realized that and reflected on it, and when I hang on a second, I don't want to be driven by fear I want to actually be driven by black and white fact based stuff. I want to deliver a terrific program and get terrific results from my clients. So what is that? And what does that look like? Ok. Well, it looks like this so that means I can get rid of all of this stuff. This is where my time is least valuable. This is where my time is most valuable and that's what I'm going to do. So I just deleted a lot of things on a Sana. And I second to that, then what I did is on a, I started my, my week on a Monday and I watched myself work like every day, Monday through to Friday. And I, I'm very routine, very structured. I have on my Asana, like what I have to get done and every day. So I said, ok, well, this week I'm going to do what I have to do and I'm going to follow my plan every day, but I'm just going to make a mental note of where I'm, where I'm wasting time and what I can get rid of. So I started my Monday as normal and I was doing something and I was like, ok, well, that can go and then I would keep going and following my plan and I get to something else and I'd be like, well, this is really good. So I'm going to spend more time on this, but I'm going to get rid of the other things.

So that's what I did. I just went through my day and I analyzed my day as I was doing it in real time and I just made notes about what I needed to get rid of and what I needed to add. And it's really cool when you do that because you notice how you work. Like, I was watching myself eating my porridge fast at the desk and I was going well, that's not good. Then I noticed myself like rushing out for coffee and rushing back in. I was like, why am I rushing? Why am I not walking slowly to the car after having worked really hard, going out for half an hour relaxing and coming back? Why is it when my stuff comes up like relaxing, taking time out? Why am I rushing that shit? It frustrates me like why am I not taking care and being slow and steady when it comes to me and putting all this effort into work? And then I get a 10 minute coffee break and I'm just so disrespectful of that coffee break for want of a better description. Like I'm disrespectful of my lunch break.

I'm disrespectful of breakfast. So that's another area that you might want to look at your time management. What you can get rid of what you can improve upon that you have and what can you do with what you have and how can you get back more time and when you do take your coffee breaks and your lunch breaks, how can you make them coffee breaks and lunch breaks and actually really enjoyable. Another area that I also looked at was how can I work slower, less frenetically? Because I don't think that's good for my mental health. It's just teaching me to be frenetic. How can I work slower and how can I focus on one task at a time? I heard somebody say recently, you know how often they switched between tabs on their desktop and Jesus, I just heard it and I was working and I was going, oh my God, I'm, I'm switching every couple of minutes that can't be good for our mental health.

So I am focusing on working less, doing less, working slower and also switching tabs less. I just can't be good for our mental health. Just all that consummation of consumption of um education, knowledge, shite junk. It's just, it's just not good, it's just not good at all. So number one, you reflect on where you're at and what, what you need to do. Number two, then look at your work life imbalance and the areas that just aren't working for you and helping you out at all. And the next step is to look at straight away the little self care action steps you can put in there that will help take care of yourself and then move on to um setting boundaries and looking at your time management. And then when you, when you've clawed back a little bit of time, you can, you can, then if you want to, the next step is to start nurturing your family and your relationships. Um And how can you nurture them more and give them as much time and dedication as you do your work and it can be more challenging to focus on intimacy, relationships, nurturing relationships and in a way easier to focus on work, which can be so much more black and white.

However, when I look back when I'm older, I want my proudest moments to be that I really nurtured my Children and I really nurtured my relationship with Joe and I nurtured the soft, gentle, intimate side of our relationship and it wasn't just all like quick and, you know, stressy chat after dinner and what do we have to do next? And da da da da, that, that I was in the right head space by getting relaxed by feeling calm, that I was able to spend time nurturing all the relationships and my friends, my dear friends, um nurturing relationships with those. And I saw somewhere I think it was on social media somewhere that, you know, a lot of us are lonely and a lot of us say that we'd love to see our friends more and we would love to nurture our relationships more. However, we don't expect we need to put the time and effort in and it does take time and effort and that really resonated with me because I always assume that those things should come easy and if they don't come easy, then it's in a way like not suited to you if that makes sense.

But that's crazy. That's like saying if you're not used to working out, working out doesn't suit you. Like I know for me, I need to nurture my relationships, my friendships with all the things I've been through over the years. I think maybe fear of trusting people or letting people in. Um, has been difficult. Um, for me, I feel that I, I don't open up much. I know I do on this podcast, which is bizarre. Um, it's weird that I can sit in a room on my own and chat to all you guys. But I, I do really struggle with opening up with relationships in person, 1 to 1. Um, and I think you're just doing yourself a disservice when you're not opening up because the relationship, the friendship, it's not two way. It's, you're just trying to make the other person have a good time rather than you opening up and maybe having a bit of intimacy in your friendship. And that is definitely something I am a work in progress on. However, I have improved if I look between this year and last year. So, um, my next tip is to seek support if you need it from friends, family and community. I for one have been trying to open up a lot more about how I feel and the struggles I have um so much more than I used to.

I used to just try and be super enthusiastic and super positive and put a brave face on everything the whole time. And uh we don't need to do that. We don't need to struggle alone. We're not workhorses, we're not robots. It's ok to not be ok. And I'm ok with bringing out my vulnerable side a little bit more than I used to. Um I really feel one of my words of 2023 is, is gentle. I feel like I'm a gentle person. However, I've hidden that and run away from it and I am leaning into it more now and trying to be more open and uh yeah, yeah, I wish for you a happy content. Life of peace and calm and a great work life balance where you nurture all the other facets of yourself, the fun, silly side, the gentle side, the kind side, the fun side. And I wish for you a really happy life, a really happy life, dear friend. 

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!

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