How to achieve work-life balance?Why work-life balance is important? How to achieve it and maintain this lifestyle? All the answers are here July 13, 2018
Separating work from your personal life is becoming more of a challenging task nowadays. As people indulge in their jobs, the average workweek in Australia is close to 41 hours per week, according to finance experts.
One hour more is not a big deal, right? Wrong. With just one hour every week you add a whole additional week of work until the end of the year. And the trend of working more than eight hours per day is growing. Slowly, Australians are losing their easy going lifestyle.
But, what do you imagine when you hear the term “work-life balance”? Is it the amount of hours that you’re going to work compared to the amount of free time that you have per day? Or is it something more?
Truth is, leading a balanced life between work and your free time is achieved only by yourself. The answer to “how to achieve a work-life balance” is different to everyone and it’s you that has to answer it. Of course, this requires you knowing yourself, and sometimes this can be hard.
Table of Contents
- What is work-life balance?
- Why is work-life balance important?
- How to achieve a work-life balance?
- Work-life balance strategies
- How to improve work-life balance for employees?
- How to maintain a work-life balance?
What is work-life balance?
The term work-life balance is used to address the division of time spent between work and family time or leisure activities. It sounds simple, but you probably tried that and know it isn’t that easy.
You’ll have a hard time splitting a day 50% work and 50% free time. Life is way more fluid than that. And because of the peculiar problem both employers and employees struggle to find a solution.
Overworking in today’s world is easy. Even in your free time, you’re just a phone call away from your job. Often checking emails after leaving, spending a whole evening making a report or just catching up on work while sitting on your couch is bad work-life balance. And you might think replying a few emails won’t hurt, but it takes away from the precious time you need to rest.
That’s why you should know how to achieve the balance between your job and everything else.
Why is work-life balance important?
Balancing work and life is important for your mental health and overall well-being. Spending way too much time at work can increase stress in your life. Frequent burnouts are bad for your health and your career. This would lead to underperformance at work and incomplete personal life. You need to find that perfect balance between your job and free time so you feel fulfilled.
Let’s see what happens when one end is taken to the extreme. Japan is notorious as a country where people never stop working. Japanese even have a word for “working until you die” or Karōshi. This isn’t meant to figuratively represent someone who’s working a lot. The meaning of the word is literal, as working until your heart stops beating.
The other end of the spectrum where you engage only in non-work related activities is also inadvisable. Hedonism doesn’t pay the bills.
How to achieve a work-life balance?
The hardest question: How do you achieve that work-life balance? We all strive for it, but little get to the point where they feel their life is on par with their work.
The real answer is, and you might not like it, it depends. It depends on what your goals in life are, if your job is an obstacle to them or if those goals are unrealistic to achieve without sacrificing some other aspect of life.
Some of us may strive to have an awesome relationship with a loved one, others can be oriented towards growing career wise and third may see their job as a way to sponsor their hobbies.
You should ask yourself:
- What is your number one priority in life?
- How do you prioritise health, family, friends, career and hobby/passion project?
- Are they prioritised in the above order right now?
- If not, what can you do about it?
If you struggle answering the last question, continue reading about different ways of achieving work-life balance.
Work-life balance strategies
As almost anything else in life, in order to have a functional work-life balance you need to have a plan and make a strategy. Achieving a balance between life and work is done by assessing your life and comparing it to your desires.
Here are the rules we, at Fantastic Services Australia use to maintain a healthy work-life balance, allowing us to be more productive, flexible and healthy as a team.
Track Your Time
Can you recall what you did today? Some of you might remember some parts of your day, vague memories of what you did, but it’s unlikely to remember clearly what you did.
Use a calendar app to schedule your day. It can be something between a schedule and a to-do list.
There are countless calendar and to-do apps which allow you to visually schedule your day. You can see which tasks you prioritise and how much time they take you.
Track your day for the whole week. Even insert afterwork activities and commute time. If you spend three to four hours commuting every day, you may want to seek an opportunity to work from home.
It’s important you understand where you’re pouring time in order to know how to fix your work-life balance.
Set Your Own Goals
While you may be overwhelmed by the targets given by your boss, you have to set your own goals, both personal and professional.
Sit down and write what you really want to accomplish in the next three months. Do you want to improve your relationship with a close friend or achieve better results at work, why not even create the best fictional football team.
Define your goal by what you desire most and you’re bound to succeed.
Private Time Must Remain Private
Today you never really leave work. Your phone is always with you, whatever happens it’s almost certain that you will learn about it in a matter of minutes.
Truth is, your private time must remain for yourself. There is no work-life balance if you’re checking your phone every 25 minutes and responding to emails, or if you’re staying up late night, every night to catch up on work.
If that’s the case, you’re either an entrepreneur, a really passionate intrapreneur or someone who has a bad boss. If it’s the third, then you need to have a talk with the management in your company.
Further you can introduce changes in the way you use technology in your life. Use separate computers for work and at home, separate phones (if your occupation requires the use of) and restrict all incoming notifications.
Be Realistic with Your To-Do List
We mentioned the to-do list briefly and how we use it. However, it can be easy to make it a mile long. This is neither good for you or productive.
Instead, have five tasks that need to be done each day. Accomplishing those tasks every day will keep you motivated both at work and in your personal life.
Ditch the Multitasking
Multitasking has become something of a trend, people often bragging about how much things they’re doing at once.
Successful people, however, understand that multitasking is nothing but keeping yourself busy with multiple things and never accomplishing them
Instead of juggling ten different tasks focus on one and do it well. Don’t distract yourself with other things, focus on one until you do it.
Don’t (Always) Be a “Yes Man”
Although Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man” scored 200m+ in the box office, saying yes to everyone won’t make you rich, successful or happy.
Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, says that in fact the word “no” is what helped him build his 2.9 billion (yes, with a B) dollar net worth.
Truth is, if you agree and accept everything, would you have time for your own things. There is nothing wrong in refusing to help a colleague, skipping a night out or turning down a request from your own boss. Optimise the time that you have in a day and handle your own things first.
Handle Your Health
Your body is a vessel. Imagine it as a car – without regular checks, maintenance and proper fuel it won’t run. The body works the same way.
Exercise, eat properly and get enough sleep in order to be at your best all the time. Leading a healthy lifestyle can improve focus, energy and endurance, as well as mental health.
Have Enough Alone Time
Work, friends, family, kids – it can all be overwhelming at times. Set a couple hours per week just for yourself.
Dedicate this time to doing something that you love.
Know When to Take a Day Off
Often absence is stronger than presence. Don’t hesitate to take a day off or go on vacation when you feel the need to. We can handle only so much work before we feel overworked and stressed out.
How to improve work-life balance for employees?
As an employer, you’d want the people working for you to be as productive and motivated as possible.
But making them work more hours or burying them with tasks is far from a successful strategy. It resembles more the Japanese way of work we mentioned in the beginning of the article (Karōshi – “death by overwork”).
Preserving a good work-life balance for your employees is very important. Not all of the people working for you want to be doing it 15 hours a day per se as it’s not their business. They can be invested, but not as motivated as you, the employer, are. The harsh truth is some of them are interested in nothing more than clocking in and out.
Determine what makes your workers happy. Because everyone is different, you can’t have one big strategy. Instead, let them decide what they want to do. Some of them may feel that eight hours a day are plenty for doing their work, other may be more motivated and work harder for results.
How to maintain a work-life balance?
There are two key things you need to know and do in order to maintain a work-life balance.
The first thing is to know what you really want and work towards that goal. We already mentioned it briefly, but put thoughts in what you want from your life. If career success is more important to you than going out with friends, then invest your time in work and in improvement of yourself.
Second – evaluate your work-life balance on a frequent basis. For some it may be every three months, for others once a year and so on. Evaluate frequently. Just because you feel you have to concentrate on one thing, it doesn’t mean that goals and desires won’t change with time.
Would you like to be in control of your work and life? We might be able to help.
One way to be in control of both work and life is running your own business. When you are your own boss, you can schedule your tasks according to your needs and wants.
While starting from scratch can be hard and tedious, partnering with a leading company has a lot of advantages. The brand that you’ll be working as is already developed, you have marketing and customer experience already covered for you.
All these things are really helpful, as you won’t have to spend your funds towards developing advertising, developing customer service, making your own work strategy, etc.
Buying and running a franchise business takes care of this for you, usually demanding little to no work.