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6 work-life balance tips
Many people admit to working countless more hours each week than they used to. This extra time working takes a toll on your health, wellbeing, and overall happiness with daily struggles to balance the demands of work, family and social time. And with new technology allowing us to be connected 24/7, it’s becoming more difficult to find that balance between work and life.
When job seekers were asked what they were looking for in a new role as part of a leading recruitment firm’s (Hudson) 2015 Hiring Report, work-life balance took precedence as the top priority for the first time in years. Participant responses included all the usual things such as higher salary, cultural fit, career progression/training, better benefits, alignment with company values and a better title – but 70% of respondents named work-life balance as their number one priority. Responses were equal from males and females and spread across all age groups.
Hudson believes this signals a dramatic shift in Australia’s working culture. We agree, and believe that many companies will need to become much better at offering more flexible arrangements for employees to achieve their desired work-life balance, however everyone has different needs and expectations regarding that balance.
So how, in today’s culture of ‘constantly on’ do we manage that elusive mix of work and life? Your main priority should be working out what you need and understanding that you do have some control. With flexibility already available and options for working in vastly different ways to what has previously been the norm, we are no longer tied to the 9 to 5 employee for life culture. The premise of working smarter not harder is truly becoming a reality for many people. Try these tips.
TIP # 1 – Prioritise Your Needs to work out what balance means to you, then communicate your needs to your superiors, colleagues etc. If you can’t or don’t want to be available at certain times, let people know and get their support.
TIP # 2 – Use Technology to your advantage and switch it off during some periods to focus on friends and family. Make use of technology to work from home if you can on a regular basis – especially if your work involves periods of writing or research where you need to focus or work quietly for long stretches. The time you save in commuting, not to mention the productivity that you achieve during those periods alone, will make you so much more effective.
TIP # 3 – Focus on the important stuff, and learn time management skills (try the Pomodoro technique). Work out what’s important to you right now and focus on those tasks. Track how you spend your time and work out where you could save time by working faster, delegating or eliminating.
TIP # 4 – Introduce Structure, Processes and Systems around things you do all the time at work. This applies to your personal and home life too. You may have no idea how simple it is to automate or speed up repetitive tasks (or even just outsource them). Think about the tasks you perform regularly and work out how to automate or simplify them.
TIP # 5 – Work Smarter – just because you work 12-hour days doesn’t mean you are more productive. Of course, there are going to be times when you need to work longer hours to complete something urgent, but if you’re working long hours all the time, something is not right. If you believe that hours worked equates to productivity you need to rethink – by eliminating unnecessary emails, meetings and other distractions you could be amazed at how much extra time you gain.
TIP # 6 – Don’t over commit – this should be obvious, but is an area that many people find hard to follow. You don’t have to say yes to everything – social and work. Use a calendar to arrange your appointments and commitments – include appointments, meetings time to actually work on projects, plus personal and family commitments as well as exercise. I’m a big fan of planning out my week, making sure I have time to fit in all the work I’ve committed to and factoring in some time for me and my family as well as dealing with the day to day mundane activities that need attending to. At the start of each week, review your schedule to ensure you have some down time factored in. If you don’t – try to make sure it happens, and if it can’t for that week – make it a priority for the next week. Planning your week and ensuring you have some down time in your calendar sets you up for success and enables you to deal with the inevitable emergencies that come up.
Work-life balance is becoming more important to more and more people. Achieving and maintaining it is not a one off process – it’s a lifelong pursuit. As your life stage changes, so too will your needs. Aspire to what you need and work to achieve it, but remember to review it from time to time to make sure it’s still working for you.
Are you struggling to achieve the balance you desire in your life right now? Would you like help from a Career Advisor to work out if your career goals and aspirations are in alignment with your work-life balance goals? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.