How to balance our personal lives with unsociable working hours

When you work weekends, nights or evenings, it’s not always easy to find time to spend with your friends and family. Maintaining a rewarding personal life while working unsociable hours can be a real challenge. Luckily, it’s not impossible to strike a balance between time spent at work, with your loved ones, and on your hobbies. In this article, Brigad will share 9 practical tips for making the most of your free time and nurturing your personal life.

Is working unsociable hours incompatible with maintaining a full social life?

Your work day may be over, but you still have the housework to do, and the shopping, and the kids will need help with their homework, and don’t forget to start chopping vegetables for dinner! In reality, we rarely have the opportunity to appreciate the time we spend with our loved ones, or even just to relax. This is especially true in the hospitality and health and social care industries, where staff are known to work unsociable hours. When your partner, children or friends are enjoying their free time, you’re at work, and vice-versa. Running a social life while working unsociable hours can seem like an impossible task.

Finding the right balance: it’s all about priorities

You’ll never be able to get everything done - the day just isn’t long enough - so you’ll have to make choices. Focussing on your happiness is essential, so strike a balance between your professional goals, your family and social life, and your personal aspirations. It is essential to determine what is most important to you. In the process, you may have to neglect some activities to prioritise others. But if that’s the key to being happy in life, the sacrifice may just be worth it.

There’s a time and place for everything - but only one thing at a time

When you carve out time for a specific task, make sure you are entirely dedicated to what you’re doing at that specific moment. In general, we flit from one task to another and perpetually worry about how much we have left to accomplish. This makes it difficult to fully concentrate on the task at hand and renders us incapable of really seizing the moment. Work takes up most of our waking lives, but it is essential to also make time for your hobbies and loves ones, and separate that time from the time spent doing groceries and household chores. Professional responsibilities should not encroach on personal aspirations (and the opposite is also true!). Only by adopting this attitude will you be able to truly live in the present and make the most of your time.

Organise your professional and personal timetables

To make space for both your personal and professional lives, you first have to work out how much time to dedicate to each priority. Nothing beats having a good plan! Take a look at your schedule and plan games nights or family outings around your shifts. Find a slot to pick the shopping up from the supermarket or go round the house with a feather duster, and time for your gym sessions or meeting a friend in town for dinner, too. Organising your activities helps you to relax in the knowledge that everything will get done, allowing you to appreciate every minute of your day. Online daily schedulers are ideal for this and can be accessed across devices.

Have some flexibility in your diary

Sometimes things don’t go to plan. You may pick up a shift last minute which means you have to cancel your family film night, but it’s not the end of the world. Allow yourself a certain amount of flexibility; maybe cleaning behind the fridge can wait until the next day, leaving time to play with the kids to make up for missing film night. Play around with different possibilities and you will always find a solution.

Make the most of your social life

With our priorities now determined, and our time fully optimised to accomplish everything we want to, professionally and personally, now is the time to really live in the moment and get rid of external interference and unnecessary distractions. This is an essential step in achieving a sense of harmony between work and your social life.

Make time for loved ones and leisure activities

Working unsociable hours is just that: unsociable. You have to optimise the little free time you have and dedicate it to spending quality time with your loved ones and achieving your personal dreams. Make the most of your friends and family being at work or at school and get a head start on your household chores, grocery shopping or mid-morning gym class. Split household tasks between members of the family based on the free time they have, and think about outsourcing some things like cleaning, or even hiring a babysitter for those date nights at a restaurant.

Switch off… really switch off!

Our always-on society doesn’t make it easy to make the most of your life outside of work, and completely switching off is even more difficult for freelancers. A quick email here, just a short post there, and notifications that flood in reminding us of how much we have to do. If we’re not careful, our work can slowly but surely creep into our homes and become a large part of our personal lives. Don’t let it happen. Dare to completely switch off in order to have a truly restful day off. You may struggle to see how it can be possible to completely switch off, and Brigad knows a thing or two about this.

Give yourself real weekends and real holidays

Weekends off are the ideal time to concentrate on relaxing. Give yourself decent time off and allow yourself an adventurous weekend away, a romantic meal, a trip to see your grandparents, or a week by the seaside (bucket and spade in tow!). These moments of true freedom are opportunities to take stock, spend meaningful time with your loved ones, and live in the moment. Everyone can benefit from this approach, especially when enjoyable moments like these are few and far between.

Know how to say no and set boundaries

Set yourself boundaries that keep your professional life away from your personal life. A last-minute mission? You’re a freelancer, the future of your business is in your hands, so naturally, you think twice before turning the offer down. But you have to know how and when to say no. On Brigad, you are free to accept or decline missions as you see fit, safe in the knowledge that your client will always find a trusted replacement. You can do the same with jobs around the house or an appointment that can wait; prioritise and postpone in order to allow yourself time to truly rest and relax.

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