Work life balance | Main Region | UB
Our tips to achieve better work-life balance
The boundary between work and life has never been so blurred. Many Australians are working long hours, while the increase in hybrid and remote working has obscured the line between the workplace and the home.
With technology offering a constant connection to work, achieving good work-life balance can be a challenge. If you want to find a better work-life balance, we share our tips below.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance means something different to everyone. It occurs when you are happy and content with the amount of time and energy you spend at work and the amount of time and energy you spend on your personal life.
For some people, spending eight hours a day at work and eight hours a day on personal life activities provides the ideal balance. For others, the scale may tip in favour of their work 70/30, or their personal life 80/20.
For others, good work-life balance does not involve a set daily target. Their ideal balance may consist of five long days at work followed by two days pursuing life activities, for example, or working for several months followed by a one-month break.
What good work-life balance looks like is up to you.
Is work-life balance important?
When the balance between your personal and professional life is out of alignment, there are many negative consequences. Poor work-life balance can lead to chronic stress and fatigue. Long-term, the work strain can lead to burnout and serious physical and mental health conditions.
Personal relationships suffer as work replaces quality time otherwise spent with friends and family. Working very long hours can also cause irritability, further damaging relationships.
In contrast, a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives gives you ample quality time to relax and de-stress, live a healthy life and improve personal relationships.
Perhaps unexpectedly, work-life balance also improves your career. If you are tired or mentally fatigued at work, you make mistakes, productivity falls, and you may become disengaged with your job.
Ensuring you take time off to recharge can be just as good for your career as putting in a good day’s work.
Examples of good work-life balance
Detach from work on the weekend
You have booked a long weekend away, but your to-do list is longer than the list of things you need to pack for your trip. You prioritise what must be actioned and spend time working through lunch on Thursday and Friday to achieve them. At 5pm Friday, you put an out-of-office message on your email, turn off your phone’s email notifications, and enjoy your time away without interruptions.
Shift hours to accommodate self-care
When working from home, you start work earlier since you do not have to commute. Then, you take a longer lunch break to include a walk around your neighbourhood. You still finish at 5pm, and spend the time gained back in the evening to help your children with their homework, try a new healthy recipe or read a few chapters of a book.
Take time in lieu
It’s a busy time at your organisation and your boss has asked if anyone is able to work overtime this month – working longer on some days, and on Saturdays too. You will be able to take the time back in lieu. You put up your hand for the extra work and start to plan when and how you will use the extra hours. The following month, you take a long weekend and finish early each day.
Examples of poor work-life balance
Failing to unplug
Working from home means you no longer have an hour-long commute each morning. You’ve used the time to start work earlier each day. You stay logged in later, too, to get the jump on the next day. After dinner, you make a few notes on new projects you are working on and time runs away from you. At night, you often can’t stop thinking about work and struggle to get to sleep. At the end of each week, your long work hours mean you are snappy and feel emotionally drained.
You love your work-from-home days because you get so much done around the house. Before work starts, you put on a load of washing, which you hang up later in the morning. You reset the robot vacuum several times. A friend drops by for a coffee at lunchtime. In the afternoon you break to prepare and place dinner in the oven. The constant interruptions affect your train of thought and you do not achieve as much work as needed. You often work late into the evening to finish.
Your boss regularly asks you to work on your rostered day off because they are short-staffed. You do not want to leave your boss in the lurch, so agree. Over time, you find the additional work and long hours are aggravating a lower-back injury. You are fatigued, and your productivity suffers. Your mind isn’t on the job.
How to improve work-life balance
To improve your work-life balance, consider how you work now and decide what balance looks like to you. Identify areas for improvement to create a healthier work-life balance. For instance, are you answering emails late into the evening? Or do you log a few hours every weekend at the expense of personal priorities?
Next, consider if the following can help you find a better balance:
Assess your time management and prioritisation skills
Ask yourself if you manage your workload within normal working hours. If not, could you achieve the same results with better time management and prioritisation? There are many apps that can help keep you on track and ensure time spent at work is productive.
Set a schedule
Block out hours of your day or week to focus solely on work and others for solely personal priorities – and commit to these firm boundaries. You can still provide yourself with some flexibility. For example, turning computers off by 7pm allows you to make up any lost time during the day if required.
Blocking time in your work calendar also helps you maintain core hours to achieve important tasks and prevents others from scheduling you into meetings. This can have a positive impact on maintaining a productive work day for a better home life balance.
Request flexible working arrangements
Working from home is just one flexible working option. Employers utilise a range of flexible working strategies that could benefit you.They are:
- Starting earlier or later then finishing earlier or later so you can accommodate personal priorities.
- Compressed working weeks involve completing your weekly hours over four longer days rather than five standard days.
- Working part-time
- Job sharing
While working from home presents obvious benefits and reduces commuting hours, it’s not for everyone. Typically, successful remote workers are self-disciplined, structure their day and establish an effective routine. They maintain strong personal relationships to avoid feeling isolated and care for their physical health and mental health and wellbeing.
If you are a working parent, these additional tips to balance work and family may help you achieve more work-life balance.
The constant accessibility created by technology has extended the working day for many. The regular ping of email notifications, or the lure of your LinkedIn feed, can derail your day and prevent you from switching off at night. When you need to complete an important work task, consider using ‘Do Not Disturb’ settings. Then, at the end of the day, turn devices off and enjoy quality life time.
Review your job
If you have taken the above steps and still lack time for family and personal priorities, examine your situation. If overtime is excessive, talk to your boss about your workload and ask what changes can be made. If needed, consider if a new job may help. For instance, an organisation with a culture that doesn’t require you to be on call 24/7.
Achieving work-life balance
Striking a balance between work and personal life isn’t easy, but it is extremely important. In fact, a strong reason why many employees stay with their employer is for work-life balance.
People with good work-life balance feel more fulfilled and are usually happier. They are more likely to feel in control of their life because they set boundaries and have choices as opposed to being forced to make sacrifices. They are also likely to be less stressed and more likely to be healthier, both mentally and physically.
So, if you are unhappy with your work-life balance, use the above advice to tip the balance back in your favour. Good luck.