Work – life balance is a moving target. The reality of getting ahead in the professional sphere is being dedicated to your career, which can be a truly demanding taskmaster. How do you have it all? It’s hard enough being focused and navigating the everyday perils and politics of a stimulating and challenging job. Yet once you start adding in juggling a committed relationship, socialising, housework, paying bills and all the other admin of life, the weekend can pass by in the blink of an eye.

I’m sure that work – life balance is a thing that exists momentarily and then slips through your fingers again. You don’t get to attain it and then set and forget. Perhaps even knowing this and reminding yourself about this is good for your sense of well- being. I think it is a balancing act that continuously needs your attention. Just like your most important and intimate relationship.  Love is like a garden, it needs regular attention in order to thrive. We know this stuff, don’t we?  Yet often trying to put the hard work in consistently with those closest to us means not taking them for granted. So if you fear you keep putting your career ahead of your loved one, it may be time to take stock and work out how to tend to it in little ways, to ensure it doesn’t slowly but surely become a neglected garden full of weeds and thorns.

How to get enough done at work so you can enjoy home

Don’t let work take over your life – back off your expectations of what is achievable in a day

Work demands can be endless. Getting through an inbox can be insurmountable most days. But what if you could write a list of all the things “to do” each day and then just circle the top most important three. If you get the top three done, no matter if they are big or small, then that is your daily achievement for work. Overachievers, take a big deep breath here because three things will feel like nothing on a list of the 20 to do items you pile on yourself each day.  My top tip – Sometimes a handwritten to-do list rather than an electronic one can enhance the process. You get to satisfyingly tick off each “done” item with a pen in a visceral rewarding way to build a sense of satisfaction. This also allows you to use your physical body to say to your mind yep it’s done – yay me!

Kiss or make intimate contact every day

Kissing hello, good-bye and good – night is really important. It’s also an easy one to let slip. Physical contact creates opportunities for bonding moments which strengthen your relationship. Also, a kiss goodbye can ground you in the here and now every morning as you head out to face the world. Perhaps your work demands you are hypermobile, sometimes you are not even in the same state or country as your loved one. Consider setting up a daily ritual where you text good morning or good night, or work out how you get to touch base with each other regularly, no matter what part of the world you are in. This requires negotiation as you may both have different needs for the amount of contact you require. Take a risk, be honest with your partner and get a ritual sorted or experiment with a few different ones until you find something that fits especially for you two.

Learn to say no – privilege your relationship over work

How tempting is it to just get that one more thing done today, so you don’t have to think about it tonight? Yet then you are late for dinner, rushing, making excuses and generally arriving home in a chaotic and stressed manner. This sounds like common sense that you have heard many times before, but believe me “less is more.” If you can arrive home at the agreed time, walk in feeling good about keeping your word and start your evening on a positive footing you set yourself up for success.

Stay present

So many distractions keep us preoccupied. At work being in the here and now builds discipline and focus. However, at the end of a long day, it’s a challenge to put in at home. It’s hard work listening, not checking your phone, zoning out or daydreaming. Yet if you remember most comments from your loved one are bids for attention. They want you, work has had you all day. It’s time to put it aside, try and be in the present moment and really make the effort to connect with the most important person in your life. If staying in the here and now is hard for you, maybe consider clearing your mind before you walk in the door. Can you use the train ride home to leave work behind? Walk from the station to get some wind down in place. Find a way to transition from work to home, so you can be present to those who love and deserve your attention the most.

Create quality time

Make it fun and make it frequent. It’s easy to see socialising, watching TV together, sitting on your laptops in the same room together as quality time. It’s not. It requires interaction and being alone. That’s it. Not hard at all. Yet it’s a deliberate choice to make it happen. So remember that old saying ~ if you are on your deathbed you are NOT going to be moaning about the fact that you wish you spent more time at the office!

image: Ambro /

Listen to me discuss these issues on Talking Relationships Radio here: