The December holidays are probably a distant memory by now and life is as busy as ever. Our work consumes such a big part of our lives, that the idea of finding balance can seem like pie in the sky.

Healthdirect explains work-life balance as achieving harmony between the different aspects of your life. When we get this right, it improves our physical, emotional and mental health, not to mention our careers.

As you read this article, take a moment to really think about what you can do today, right here and right now, to bring balance and harmony to your life.

Is work the problem?

The work itself is not the culprit – if it was, how would anything get done in the world?

It’s more about how we prioritise our work above all else that causes problems. For many people, their work defines who they are, making them feel like they have something to prove.

We might say work is not everything, but we often behave as if it is, pushing aside quality time with family and friends, neglecting hobbies and cutting out “me time”.

There are however good things about work (assuming it’s a job you enjoy):

  • Gives you purpose.
  • Keeps your mind stimulated and engaged.
  • Allows you to apply what you’ve learned or studied.
  • Provides daily structure.
  • Connects you to others.
  • Pays for you to live your life.

However, if you consistently work long hours it will impact your health and wellbeing, making you feel tired and increasing your stress levels. Our bodies need time to rest and recuperate so we have the strength and energy to give life everything we’ve got, every single day.

How do I find a good work-life balance?

Just as no two people have the same fingerprints, no two people have the same work-life balance. That’s because our priorities are not the same and we are rejuvenated by different things.

Here are 4 tips to help you find your work-life balance:

  1. Decide on what’s important to you
  2. Be flexible and patient
  3. Make changes if you need to
  4. Take a break
  1. Decide on what’s important to you
    Start with figuring out what you want. What would make you happy in terms of how you split your time?

    You have a finite number of waking hours in your life and only you can decide how you want to spend them. There’s no right or wrong or recommended split – list what needs to fit into your life and then allocate time to each aspect based on how important it is to you and what would be realistic based on your circumstances.

    Keep work at work. Although there may be times you need to bring work home to meet a deadline, it should not become the norm. Set boundaries for when work stops and then really stop. That means no sneaking in an email or checking your phone in bed before going to sleep. If you are spending time with your family, you want them to know that they are more important to you than your work. If your attention is still on work matters, they will learn that work comes before they do.

  2. Be flexible and patient
    It doesn’t necessarily mean having a strict minute-by-minute schedule (although this works for some people), but if you have a big picture view of how you would like your life to look, it will help you to plan accordingly and to say no to some things if you have to.

    You want to be fully engaged in whatever you are doing at a particular time, rather than thinking you should be doing something else.

    Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It takes time to figure out what works for you and your family, and it also changes with different stages in your life. For example, when you have young children, they are likely to be your highest priority and require the biggest chunk of your time, but once they are old enough to fend for themselves, you will have more time for your personal interests.

  3. Make changes if you need to
    Are you truly happy in your job?
    It may be that the job itself is throwing your balance off. If you don’t enjoy what you do and dread going to work every day, it will have a negative impact on your personal life. Ask yourself what you don’t like about your job to see if there’s something you can do about it.

    There are times a shift in perspective or attitude can make a world of difference, or perhaps an honest conversation with a colleague that you just don’t see eye to eye with. However, if it’s something you don’t foresee changing or that is out of your control, it may be time to consider looking for a new job.

    On the other hand, if it’s your career that has you wishing you were doing something else, it could be an opportunity to explore other career options. We realise this is easier said than done, and there’s much more to it than just a few sentences, but as long as we get you asking the right questions, you’ll be on the path to find a job you are really passionate about.

    Even if you don’t like absolutely everything about your job, if it’s the right fit for you, you will want to be there, and it will add rather than detract from you living your best life.

    Are you taking care of your health?
    Healthy body, healthy mind. Our health often takes a back seat when we are wrapped up in our work. Eating right and exercising regularly are important to keep us at the top of our game.

    When we are not feeling well, we think that we can’t possibly take a day off because everything will fall apart without us. Yet if you are sick, you are not able to work at your best and you could in fact prolong your illness and possibly even pass it on to your colleagues. If you need to take a sick day or two, you should take it. And if everything does fall apart when you are not there, you need to reassess how you work, as there should always be more than one person that can perform a task.

    Are you managing your time effectively?
    There often seems to be far more things to do than there is time to do it in. Learning about time management techniques may help to free up some time you didn’t think you had, e.g. limiting emails to blocks of time, grouping similar tasks together to build momentum, using technology for automatable tasks, or possibly even delegating tasks that don’t actually need your direct involvement.

  4. Take a break
    Whether it’s a half day now and then or a two-week holiday, it’s important to step away from all things work-related from time-to-time. For it to be a proper break, you should totally disconnect from emails, calls and other forms of communication.

    Being away from the work environment gives you a chance to relax and recuperate from the daily pressures and stresses of the job. You will come back refreshed, often with renewed energy and maybe even new ideas.

    You should be taking short breaks during your workday, e.g. go outside to eat your lunch (instead of working through lunch or dropping food on your keyboard), listen to your favourite song (with earphones of course), or grab a coffee with a colleague (which is also good for relationship building). Giving your mind a breather from work will help your concentration and productivity.

Why should employers consider work-life balance?

If employees have a good work-life balance they will be happier and healthier, which also translates into cost savings for the company.

  • Higher productivity as they will be well-rested.
  • Fewer sick days as their physical health will be better.
  • Less absenteeism as they will want to come to work.
  • Increased loyalty and job satisfaction, therefore lower staff turnover and less need to train new staff.

If employees are working on finding their work-life balance and their employers are supporting their efforts, it will benefit all parties. A few examples of what companies could do include allowing flexible work hours, providing facilities onsite (e.g. gym, pre-school, hairdresser, etc.) and ensuring workloads are realistic.

Now that you’re on the road to finding your ideal work-life balance, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Make adjustments as you need to and be kind to yourself – it’s a work-in-progress and that’s ok.

One thing you don’t need to spend time stressing about is your insurance. We are here to make sure you have the appropriate insurance cover to protect you and your family. They are your top priority and you are ours!

P: 1800 809 132
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