Achieving that indescribable work-life balance can prove difficult.

There’s no doubt that the demands on construction workers are significant. And many construction jobs can’t be squeezed into the traditional eight-hour day.

Deliveries, tradies and inspections are all scheduled so that one task must finish before the next can start. Strict time lines mean that delays can be costly and can cause punishing hours for site managers and workers.

But, we can’t point the finger squarely at the number of hours. If we want to avoid living to work, we need to jealously guard our ‘me’ time and think about how to wind down.

Make time

Juggling the competing demands of tradies, clients and supervisors on a building site can take a physical and mental toll, and the pressure can quickly build up. Finding ways to manage fatigue and stress during the day can be as simple as scheduling your own breaks.

Ensure that you take a full break and use it to meet a friend or family member for lunch at the same time as eating to thrive. Drinking plenty of water over caffeine and eating a sandwich over a burger will aid with a strong mind and body.

Exercise is key! A mid-day run can be good for recharging the batteries and staying alert for longer.

Dumb down the smartphone

The promise that technology would release you from the shackles of work is about as broken as a damaged smartphone screen.

The ping of an email notification or a text from a supplier can trigger the gnawing feeling that others might be pulling their weight while you steal some precious hours for yourself.

That’s why it’s important to take back control of the smartphone – and switch if off. The French legislated the right to switch off after a 13-hour work day, and finding some ‘me’ time starts right there.

It’s how you spend your time

It’s how you spend your time that really matters. Whether it’s getting lost in a book, going for a surf or to the gym, or having a lazy guilt-free Saturday morning drinking coffee and reading the papers, it’s important to take down time or at least one total zero work day per week.

Reconnecting with the people and activities that make you thrive will also put you in a better frame of mind to be more productive at work.

Working long hours need not result in failed relationships or huge levels of stress and fatigue. In fact, some people use the saying ‘work hard, play hard’ to give greater focus to their ‘me’ time.

It pays to get your down time right so you can keep your mind on the job. As they say in construction, ‘measure twice, cut once’.