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Working 24/7: How to improve your work-life balance – live chat

In 1930 economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that our generation would be working for just 15 hours a week and living a life of leisure. Needless to say, he was mistaken.

With the rise of non-stop emails and a 24-hour work culture, the average working week in the UK has actually risen to 42.7 hours for full-time employees, with research suggesting millennials are even more likely than their elders to blur the line between work and home.

So why do so many of us struggle to switch off? Professor Peter Fleming places the blame with the rise of insecure employment. “Much of this pressure stems from the disempowerment of the workforce. Insecurity naturally makes it more likely that people will sacrifice everything for their job,” he says.

But even permanent employees can struggle with the pressures of our “always on” culture. To find a better work-life fit, you need to harness the power of saying no, advises Leeds-based life coach Melanie Allen. “If you tend to say yes without thinking when you’re asked to do something extra, stall. Say you’ll get back to the person asking, then use that time to think clearly about whether to say yes or no. If you want to say yes, fine. But if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it.”

It’s also important to break away from the idea of perfection, adds Allen. “If you’re overworked, you need to explicitly tell yourself that what you’ve done may not be perfect, but it is good enough.”

Ultimately with work-life balance, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some people find being self-employed or working flexibly improves their mental health, while others find moving into more secure employment relieves stress.

So whether flexitime, office-based work or freelancing suits you best, how can you make sure you strike a better work-life balance? Join us on Thursday 29 June from 1–2.30pm BST for our webchat with the experts. We’ll be discussing:

  • Tips for achieving a better work-life balance.
  • Advice on flexible working rights and requests.
  • How to find a job that suits your lifestyle.

The Q&A will take place in the comments section below this article. Taking part is easier than ever: create a free Guardian account, or log in using your Twitter or Facebook profiles to comment. Alternatively, you can tweet us @GuardianCareers or email your questions to sarah.shearman@theguardian.com, who can post them for you.

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