If you’re like most Aussies, your work life balance could use a bit of an upgrade. We get it! It’s tough to make time for yourself and your family and still feel like you’re accomplishing your goals. There can be pressure in the workplace to meet deadlines and appear dedicated, particularly for career focused, ambitious individuals who don’t want to miss out on professional opportunities. It can be easy to get carried away, especially if you love your job! However, it’s always important to remember that life is short, and we need to make the most of every aspect of it, not just the professional side. If you adore your job and want to make it to the top of your field, then maybe throwing yourself into your work is what makes you happy, but for the rest of us, striking a balance is paramount. So, how do you know if you’ve found the best balance? We’ve got you covered.
Know your priorities
If your family is the most important thing to you, then make sure your family time is off limits and don’t let work projects seep their way in. Block off time to spend with them. If you career is what you’re focusing on right now, then communicate that to the people who matter most in your life so they can support you and understand when you need to spend more time at the office or attending professional development events. Trying to learn a new skill, focus on your health, take a class, join a social club, travel more, begin a new relationship, or chase after any other personal goals? Carve out time in your weekly schedule for those things. Don’t let work run your life.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
You’re going to have days where work takes over. You’re going to have days where your health or your kids or home maintenance takes over. You’re going to have days when you just collapse and need a break. These are all normal parts of life. Every day doesn’t have to go exactly as planned in order for you to achieve a balanced life. As long as you can look back on the past week or month and say you achieved the goals that were most important to you (no matter if they’re personal or professional), then you’re doing great! Let a deadline slip at work due to a family emergency? That’s bound to happen and if your boss is decent, then he or she will understand. Get home later than planned because you’re working late on a project at work that’s really important to you? We’ve all been there. It’s alright, so long as your family or partner knows they’re a priority.
Use your leave!
This is a no brainer! Did you know that Aussies enjoy some of the most generous paid leave packages in the world?! In some parts of the world, there is no paid leave whatsoever. Thankfully, that’s not the case here in the land of Oz. We enjoy vacation time, sick leave, maternity leave, carer’s leave, long service leave, and the list goes on… so USE it!! Take a vacation, even if you’re not travelling, just to have a long weekend to relax, read a good book, go to a footie match, or just sleep in. Give yourself a break. If you’re sick, for goodness sake stay home! In most cases, the office can survive without you for one day. Your HR department will generally be a good place to start to see what your leave entitlements are, but since we live in a country that values work life balance enough to make paid leave available to just about everyone, there’s no reason not to enjoy it.
There are loads of modern solutions that can help you get a bit of extra time on your hands. Try getting your groceries delivered instead of spending half your Saturday at the shops. Become buddies with your slow cooker so dinner is ready when you get home and you can enjoy more free time. Use cloud storage so you can work from anywhere, when it’s convenient for you. Conduct meetings via webcam, so there’s less travel to client sites and you can get more done in the office. There are heaps of options out there!
Switch up your Commute
Did you know that commuters who take public transit on average are more relaxed than commuters who drive to work? Why is this? Because they use their commute as extra downtime to catch up on Netflix, read a book, make phone calls, pay bills online, and cross things off their to-do list. Alternatively, they can opt to use the time as extra work time if there’s an impending deadline, which allows them to avoid cutting into personal time with work. If you have the option, try switching to public transit a few days per week and use the time to do whatever you like. Alternatively, workers who have the option to work from home, even once or twice per week, not only report better work life balance, but in general tend to be more productive. If this option is available to you, you should definitely consider taking advantage of it.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m not happy with the way my time is divided now,” then it’s time to do something about it. Try planning your week in advance or checking with your HR representative to see what sort of flexible work arrangements might be available to you. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but putting in some effort to make sure your time reflects your priorities is definitely worth it!