A good work-life balance is important for us as individuals
- preventing workplace burnout
- helping us to reduce stress levels
- to feel happier and more contented with our lives.
Ultimately promoting better mental health for us and those around us.
Creating workplace environments that foster work-life balance can also be beneficial to employers. If their workforce is happier and less stressed, they’ll be more productive, take less sick time and be more loyal to the company. Saving money on downtime, sick pay, staff replacement and training.
In an era where technology often means we’re “switched on” 24/7 it can be increasingly difficult to maintain the boundaries between work and personal time.
- Flexible working hours
- Work from home positions
- And contracting jobs
- Stress about unemployment / job availability
So when you start working, you’ll be the one who’s responsible for making sure that you are creating the balance that works for you.
8 tips on how to achieve better work-life balance
Actively make better choices
Choose to apply for positions with companies who have policies that value employees personal time.
E.g. time off in lieu of working overtime, flexibility around allowing you to attend personal engagements, or taking your birthday off (lucky you).
Ensure that flexible work hours work to your advantage
It is tempting to be the star employee who goes above and beyond, you can still be that person and use any flexible time allocations due to you.
- Need to go to the doctor, keep your calendar free of appointments and use the flexi time
- Kids off school sick? Work from home instead of calling in to take carers leave if possible
- Working a 9-day fortnight, make sure you take your allocated day off
Create some ground rules
When you start a job, even if long hours and the occasional late night meeting or call are the norm, you can establish some limits.
- Set a time you’ll turn off your phone and stop checking your emails (or responding to them)
- Limit the number of appointments or meetings you’re prepared to schedule outside of work hours
- If you have to travel, work out what frequency you’re happy with and what time off you’ll be eligible for if you’re away for long periods
- Have a cut-off time for working overtime so that if you do have to stay back it won’t be indefinite
Leave work at work (when possible)
Family, friends, spare time, hobbies are all important too. So when you aren’t at work it’s important that you can learn to switch off and dedicate some time to other important areas in your life.
Make your spare time count
We all have jobs outside of work to do, domestic chores and other jobs that just need doing. Finding ways to reduce their impact on your spare time is a good thing, so that you will have time to relax and read a book, binge watch Netflix, or catch up with friends.
Share the load fairly with others at home, break the chores down into smaller tasks that are achievable before or after work with minimum disruption, if you find a routine that works – stick to it. Can you afford to pay for help with cleaning or gardening?
If during your working period you have busy and quieter times, use the slower days to prepare or catch up on other work – that way you shouldn’t have to stay back or come in for extra days in future.
Business owners need to set boundaries too
If you’re going to run your own company, remember that in addition to incorporating great work balance into the companies policies, you as the owner should stick to the same rules.
It can be harder to walk away when you feel the responsibility for a successful business is all at your feet, but even if you love your job, you need downtime too. Set limitations when you start out on how much time you’re prepared to invest, then hire other people and delegate some of the responsibility to them as you grow.
Don’t put extra pressure on yourself
Creating a perfect work-life balance shouldn’t be causing you stress. If you find that is, then it’s time to sit down and address your priorities, routines and schedules to see where you can cut back in some areas.
Talk to your employer
If you have a job and you enjoy it, but find it hard to maintain a healthy balance with your life, it’s a good idea to sit down and have a talk with your employers about how you can be more productive at work in less hours.
Most employers will be willing to listen to you and negotiate different or more flexible hours if they can (you might have to be prepared to get paid less though).
It’s also a really good idea to have some solutions already outlined before you speak with your employer. Presenting them with possible solutions as well as a problem is more likely to have a better outcome all round.