finding your inner zen

Finding Your Inner Zen; How to Realize a Work / Life Balance Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we looked at the first five steps of creating a greater balance in your home life, namely:


  1. Don’t check emails after your contracted hours
  2. Exercise
  3. Have your five a day
  4. Mindfulness meditation
  5. Schedule in one thing to look forward to each day


This week we take a look at steps six and seven, examining the importance of having outside hobbies and interests and prioritizing relaxation.


Step Six: Have hobbies and interests outside of work


To develop a stronger identity outside of work it is really important to focus on finding hobbies and activities that are unrelated to work, that you can immerse yourself in and that you are passionate about.


Playful activities you can engage in include:




  • Singing along to one of your favorite songs
  • Dancing
  • Laughing and joking with friends
  • Listening to music
  • Impromptu shopping
  • Taking a walk




  • All sports
  • Board games
  • Creating art
  • Arts and crafts
  • Sewing or knitting
  • Karaoke
  • Bowling
  • Going to the cinema
  • Going to a museum or exhibition
  • Going to a concert
  • Going on holiday


Ways you can spend some quality alone time include:


  • Scenic walks
  • Having a coffee at a cafe and people watching
  • Reading
  • Going to the movies
  • Going to a beautiful restaurant
  • Meditating
  • Listening to music
  • Visualizing
  • Having a long hot bath


Creative hobbies and interests include:


  • Pottery
  • Sculpting
  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Painting (watercolor, oil, acrylic)
  • Drawing (pencil, pen, pastels, charcoal)
  • Writing non-fiction
  • Creative writing
  • Writing poetry
  • Song writing
  • Singing
  • Playing an instrument
  • Composing music
  • Dancing
  • Acting
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Card making
  • Calligraphy
  • Scrapbooking
  • Origami and quilling
  • Jewelry making
  • Mosaics (E.g. mirror frames, tables, pots)
  • Cake decorating, baking or cooking


Finding Your Inner Zen; How to Realize a Work / Life Balance Part Two

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we looked at the first four steps to creating balance in your work life, these being:


  1. Manage expectations and reduce perfectionism
  2. Break up big tasks and set manageable daily goals
  3. Do important and urgent tasks first and prioritize


This week we look at the last five steps to finding greater balance at work, including focusing on one thing at a time and tips to avoid procrastinating.


Step Four: Focus on one thing at a time


Many people believe that multi-tasking is more efficient however this is usually not the case. It can actually take twenty to forty percent longer to finish tasks when we multi-task compared to when we complete these same tasks sequentially. With this in mind it is worth focusing on one thing at a time wherever possible.


Finding Your Inner Zen; How to Realize a Work / Life Balance Part One

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


As I sit down to write this on my holiday I have just come off of a work call from the girl who is covering me whilst I am away. In all fairness it was my boss who caused her need to call me as he accidentally reprogrammed the door timer which ensures the door automatically locks at the end of the day.


I loathe being disturbed in this way on my holiday; immediately I thought of my how I would now have to reprogram it all over again when I returned to work and as a result I was thrust into work mode when I was supposed to be relaxing.


Although I work very hard whilst I am at work, I make a point of keeping my work and private life quite separate. Calls like this are quite rare and I have made a point of not syncing my phone with my work emails so I can’t access them when I leave the office.


I also have many hobbies and interests which keep my focus elsewhere when I am not working and I always take time to relax if I’ve had a stressful day at work. Despite this though, I recognized that there was room for improvement if I was to ensure I had a better work / life balance.


What followed was a great deal of research into how I might better address my work / life balance. Reassuringly I was already doing most of the recommended habits but, rather concerningly, I couldn’t help but feel I was going against the trend towards workaholism that exists in both the UK and US.


Indeed, Hamermesh and Stanccanelli cite in ‘Long workweeks and Strange Hours’ (September 2014) that 29.2% of Americans and 25.5% of Britons often work weekends, compared with just 9.6% of the Spanish following suit. The same study revealed that 26.6% of Americans and 18.6% of Britons work evenings, compared to just 6.9% of their Dutch European counterparts. Indeed, Norway was voted by the UN as the happiest place to live in the world with residents typically earning $69,000 ($9,000 more than the average American) and only working thirty five hours a week.


In addition, Americans face just ten days paid holiday on average per year, with a further ten public holidays, whilst Britons have a third more time off at twenty days plus eight public holidays, compared with the Spanish having twenty-two days paid leave and a whopping fourteen public holiday days. In light of these statistics is it any wonder that Americans and Britons are finding it increasingly hard to achieve a healthy work / life balance?


But beyond the inconvenience there lies a much more sinister side to working longer hours. Stress, anxiety and ultimately burn out can be caused by too much work and no play. Our physical health can be impacted too, with working more causing a higher risk of stroke, type two diabetes and even heart disease in more extreme cases.


Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to limit the impact work has on our lives, allowing you to claim back your life outside of work and have more of a healthy equilibrium between work and play. I can testify from personal experience that the steps I share with you throughout this series work and will help you redress the imbalance when your life is burdened by too much emphasis on work.


January’s Hot Topic is ‘Finding Your Inner Zen; How to Realize a Work / Life Balance’

To me, the beginning of the year is a fresh opportunity to create a healthy, balanced, happy and fulfilling life – an opportunity to create greater harmony.


With this in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time of year to explore how to achieve a greater work / life balance.


In January’s series posts on Monday’s I will take you through:


  • The importance of a work / life balance
  • 8 steps to find a balance at work
  • 11 steps to find a balance at home


Because this is such a meaty subject I have given you even more ‘Balance In Action’ posts throughout the week, which are designed to help you apply the takeaways of the series practically in your day to day life.


I can’t wait to begin!


Wishing you all the happiness, success and joy you deserve,


x X x Jenny x X x