Getting the balance between work and life can often be difficult, but practising mindfulness may help you to a happy life, says Ewan Gillon

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Imagine spending an hour having fun with family, friends or your pet dog? As it is National Work-Life Balance Week, focusing on what’s important could make you happier.

In the UK, statistics show that a significant number of parents are unhappy with work-life balance with almost a quarter (23 per cent) feeling that work and family life are in constant conflict. Thirty five per cent of parents state their work affects their home life in a negative way.

The good news is that small changes can make a big difference – provided the problem is acknowledged. There are some simple ways of making your working day more productive. Analyse which activities sap your time and energy. Are you spending unnecessary time chatting or browsing on websites? Doing these things regularly can become a habit and can add up to time which would be better spent.

If you have work worries talk to your line manager. Ask yourself if you are working longer because you are struggling to cope with your workload or if there is a deeper-rooted problem. At home, try delegating errands or chores – get the family involved in cutting the grass, taking out the bins or the kids cleaning their bedrooms. One approach which can help is practising mindfulness. It is about living in the present, becoming aware of your own thoughts and feelings and accepting them. For example, you may think, “everything is getting on top of me”. However, a mindful person will acknowledge this as just a thought and let it go.

A midweek breather does wonders for our energy levels and work-life balance, according to the organisers of Work-Life Balance Week, so getting home on time one day a week to do something we enjoy is a goal we can all set ourselves. Start by making a regular date for doing that activity.

At First Psychology Scotland, this week we are running a short survey to better understand how the impact of technology is affecting our work–life balance. To take part go to www.firstpsychology.co.uk/worklife.

Professor Ewan Gillon is counselling psychologist and clinical director of First Psychology