I’m giving my age away now, but when I was in school and socialising as a “young wan” in London, there were no mobile phones (thank God).

When I started working, information was still stored in paper files and emails were only in their infancy.

In those days, I believe we lived much more “in the moment”.

Whatever we were doing, we were wholeheartedly doing it – whether it was family time, working or socialising. We just didn’t realise it.

Moving forward to today, the world is a very different place.

We have access to more information than I could ever have imagined, and all in the palm of my hand, through my phone. Access to emails, the weather, my bank account, social media and so much more. Who would have thought?

But, as a self-employed business owner, hours can be long. Your mind is constantly full of ideas, questions and worries. As a farmer, there are early starts, late finishes and lots of work in between.

Where does all this leave time for family life, self care, socialising, or sleep, even? What even is this work-life balance everyone seems to talk about?

Like most things in life, it comes down to choice and the decisions you make. I have learned – as a farmers wife and by running my own agrifood business – that there are always jobs to do. But I have also learned that we could learn from our lives from before mobile phones, emails and social media.

These days we are always “on” – checking emails as soon as we wake, picking up our phone to make sure it’s working (because it hasn’t rung in a while) and reacting to every ping!

We need to stop and reassess how we are living our lives.

This is what I find helps:

Turn off the phone and be present. Not as easy as it sounds, but it gets easier with practice. Without the phone as a distraction, we can be present in whatever we are doing. Really see and hear the beauty of nature on a walk, instead of listening to a podcast. Really listen and take part in a conversation with your family and friends.

Time management is a crucial skill we should all learn, especially as farmers and other business owners. We need to know what we need to do and when to do it. Prioritise your work and jobs instead of trying to get at everything on your to do list.

Allocate a ‘Stop Time’. I appreciate it may not always be possible, but on the days it is, do it.

Finish your work day and be done with it. As a wise man I know says, “There’s no hour gone out of tomorrow yet.”

Prioritise your days jobs and get them done. Feel that sense of achievement and then do more tomorrow.

Lastly, get a good night’s sleep. The day is always easier on a good night’s sleep.

Achieving a good work-life balance isn’t easy and we all have to find one that suits us individually. But it is something we should strive to have. As I always say, life is too short and all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

So make time for the really important things: family, friends and yourself. Because only you can do it for you.

Read more

Steps to Success: making the choice to be a better you

Steps to success: resilience – do I have it?