How to find work life balance

3 min

First appeared in The Cusp.

When we’re at university all we think about is finishing and finally being able to work full-time, ready to 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. This may be 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 work emails outside of contracted hours* begging the question, ‘surely there has got be more to life than just work?'. 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.’

In fact, work-life balance is now the top consideration for job seekers, with a majority of Australian workers saying they are willing to sacrifice some of their salary for a better work-life balance.

Many companies, such as Westpac, offer a range of initiatives to promote work-life balance such as flexible working hours and working from home arrangements.

While these options may differ from workplace to workplace, here are some simple tips that you can apply to help 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, making eating at your desk while working more convenient.

However, Hays regional director Claire Forsyth advises that 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 out 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 of a hat, so that’s why it’s important to communicate 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, technology allows us to 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.’

*The YouGov Galaxy Artificial Intelligence Study commissioned by Red Agency in February 2018 

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Article prepared by The Cusp, May 2018 and reused with permission. Information current as at May 2018 and may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.