How To Find Your Work-Life Balance
When we’re at uni all we think about is finishing, and finally being able to work full-time and earn some cold hard cash. But when we start working, we realise while there’s more money coming into the bank, there are fewer hours in the week that we get to spend enjoying our free time because we’re too caught up in work, not only during the standard working hours, but also outside of work hours.
A recent study shows that 85% of full-time workers now check their emails outside of work hours. Surely there has got be more to life than just work, right? The simple answer is yes. You just need to know how to practice work-life balance.
“Work-life balance isn’t about completely switching off, it’s more around the ability to juggle the demand of your career and personal life,” says Robyn Johns, senior lecturer in human resource management at the University of Technology, Sydney.
“Regular ‘mini’ breaks are also important. By stopping, getting some fresh air and something to eat and drink you’re able to reset.”
One company delivering work-life balance is Lindt Australia, which won the Employer Choice Award (100-999 Employees) at the 2017 Australian HR Awards. According to Lindt Australia HR manager Phil Turner, the company offers a range of initiatives that promote work-life balance, such as flexible working hours.
“That ranges from flexible start and finish times that can be worked around core hours, working from home agreements, half-day Fridays in summer months, early Friday finish for other months, compressed working weeks, extra birthday leave, and options for job-share or part-time work,” he says.
The company has also created what it calls a Lindt Concierge Services to provide life admin support for employees, ranging from dry cleaning services to having an onsite mobile car wash.
While these options may differ from workplace to workplace, here are some simple tips that you can personally apply to ensure you maintain work-life balance.
#1 Take a break
The hours of a day can sometimes feel like they’re slipping away too quickly, especially as the work continues to pile on, which can make eating at your desk while working more convenient.
However, Hays regional director Claire Forsyth advises it’s important to take any breaks that you’re entitled to, including a full lunch break.
“Regular mini-breaks are also important,” she says. “By stopping, getting some fresh air and something to eat and drink you’re able to reset
“This well help you to focus better and not feel so overworked which means you won’t be too tired to make any of your outside of work arrangements.”
#2 Speak up
As much as we’d like to think that we’re superhuman and can handle every task thrown our way, it’s often not the case. It’s also because we need to remember we have a life outside of work. Therefore, it’s important you communicate with your manager and set boundaries early on to define exactly what days you’re working and what hours you can be reached.
“You find even in small organisations that if people are given advance warning about your working hours they are able to make arrangements around it,” Johns says. “It’s obviously a little more difficult for smaller organisations to do that at a drop at a hat, so that’s why it’s important to communicate what are your expectations.”
#3 Take advantage of technology
We often blame technology for the fact that it’s making it more difficult for us to achieve work-life balance. However, on the plus side what technology is allowing us to do is be more flexible in the way we work, including the ability to telecommute.
“If your job is very technology-based, and most are these days, you don’t have to physically be in the office,” says Johns. “You can now work from home or in a café.”
#4 Look elsewhere
As people’s priorities change and make a more conscious effort to practice work-life balance, working full-time may not necessarily be the best option. Instead, you may want look to obtain work through contracting, which Forsyth says more organisations are beginning to accept.
“More organisations are employing their staff on a temporary or contract basis either for projects or ongoing developments so there are many opportunities for this,” she says. “Temporary assignments offer the ultimate flexibility as you can pick and choose your contracts which allows you to have control over your work-life balance.”
While you’re trying to find your work-life balance, try finding meaning outside of work, too.
Aimee Chanthadavong is a Sydney-based journalist and content producer. When she’s not writing about politics and technology, she spends her time consumed in food, travel and lifestyle stories. Find her occasional tweets at @achanthadavong.