5 tips you need to know to maintain a healthy work-life balance
It has become increasingly difficult to achieve a healthy work-life balance in Australia. According to the ‘Better Life Index’ conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia currently ranks 10th out of 38 member and partner countries in terms of employees working 50 hours or more per week. Whilst theAustralia’s welfare 2017 report specifies that the rate of men and women working long hours has decreased by 6 % and 1% to 20% and 7% respectively; both rates are still considerably higher than European and Nordic countries in the OECD. In fact, Australia lies below the OECD average in terms of work-life balance with full-time employees reportedly having 30 minutes less of leisure and personal care time. The report however indicates that in spite of Australians struggling to achieve a healthy work-life balance – they recognise that it is one of the most important measurements of well-being, along with health and life satisfaction.
In line with this, we have set out 5 tips that will help you hit the reset button to maintain a healthy work-life balance:
1. Be aware of how you spend your time
Whether you are working from home or in the office, it is critical to make efficient use of your time. We recommend that you do a brief assessment of your daily activities at the end of the day. Ask yourself which parts of your day were the most and least productive. Did you spend more time doing a particular task? If so, find out why and if there is a way to be more efficient. This extends to tasks outside of work as well. We note a few examples on how to better manage your time below:
- Plan your to-do list for the week every Sunday and make sure to carve out time for your least flexible priorities such as work deadlines and family outings.
- If you find your focus wavering, block out a day in the week for yourself so you are not interrupted by meetings or other distractions.
- Alternatively, you can wake up early before the rest of the world so you can work with no interruption.
2. Have a work-life balance that works for you
Against common belief, work-life balance is not a 50/50 split between work and personal life. It does not mean that you have to wake up at 4am to squeeze in a workout before heading into the office, finish work early to cook dinner, or clean the house and finish off with a book in bed by 9pm on a daily basis. As much as you want it to be the case, the reality is more often than not, you won’t be able to tick off everything on your to-do list every single day. Sometimes, work will spill into your personal life and vice versa. The key is to understand that priorities do shift.
Work-life balance does not have to be an unattainable standard that you need to keep chasing. Instead, we recommend that you adopt a holistic view when it comes to your commitments at work and at home. Identify the type of work-life balance set-up that works best for you and helps you achieve your goals and feel fulfilled. For example, you can block out time in your diary for non-work activities such as gym classes so you don’t overwork yourself. Having both a work and social calendar will definitely help restore work-life balance.
3. Establish boundaries between work and personal life
Have a clear divide between your work and personal hours. Technology has allowed us to be more flexible and enabled us to work remotely. However, in doing so, the lines between work and personal life have blurred. People remain ‘switched on’ at various times of the night trying to clear out work for the next day. This is why we emphasise on the need to establish boundaries. Of course, it is important to be dedicated to your job and put in the hours if you are working on a tight turnaround. However, you run the risk of wearing yourself down in the long run if you consistently do long hours in the office.
Be honest with yourself about what you need in order to be a productive and happy employee. Ensure you resist the urge to cross those boundaries once they are set. A good tip would be to leave a note-to-self on your desk so you know what urgent tasks need to be completed first thing the next morning. In doing so, you can enjoy your night guilt-free and come back to work the next day feeling well-rested, refreshed and engaged.
4. Listen to your mind and body
It is common knowledge that poor work-life balance takes a toll on both your physical health and mental well-being. Exercise plays an important role in all aspects of your life, including your performance at work. A study conducted by Briston University has shown that exercise helps boost concentration at work by 21%, helps 22% of participants finish their work on time and helps 41% of participants feel more motivated to work. As such, if you want to be the best version of yourself and excel at work, you need to allow yourself time to exercise and unwind. We further note a few examples below if you prefer to replace exercising with another activity:
- Set aside at least an hour a week for some ‘me time’. Disconnect from all electronic devices and do something physical and creative that will make you feel renewed.
- Surround yourself with loved ones. Make the effort not to neglect personal relationships and don't take your loved ones for granted.
- Plan a weekend getaway trip. Sometimes this is just enough to break the routine and make you feel recharged for another week of work.
- Create a practice of prayer or meditation. Research has shown that those who have a regular practice of prayer or meditation built into their routines are far more productive and happier.
5. Work smart
Through the constant inflow of emails and meetings, you need to ensure that you stay focused on the goals you’ve set yourself for the day and work smarter – not necessarily harder. Prioritise your tasks in order to be more efficient and productive during your work hours. Know when to push back and say no. If you are the type of person that finds it difficult to say no to your boss or colleagues when they ask for your help, you will most likely end up feeling overwhelmed with a never-ending to-do list. We recommend that you try not to respond immediately to your colleague’s request in this situation. You can advise them that you are working on another priority at the moment and will get back to them within a specific timeframe. In doing so, you get to finish your current task whilst keeping your colleagues happy since you’ve communicated that you would help them later. Keep in mind that it’s better to do a few tasks well rather than taking on multiple jobs without delivering.
Are you looking for a career that can offer you a healthy work life balance?
Try applying the above 5 tips to see the long term, positive changes of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Always remember that you can only be your best self at work if you are taking care of yourself.
At Progressive Recruitment, we help our candidates find their purpose as they look for their next opportunity. Should you wish to discuss the next step in your career, feel free to give us a call at +61 02 9285 5018 for a confidential discussion.