While everyone has their own idea about Work-Life Balance might look like, one thing is for certain – we all have a limited amount of time and energy to accomplish the important responsibilities and goals in our lives.
Balance involves giving appropriate amounts of focus, energy and time to the important aspects of our life and often this needs to be flexible in order to deal with life’s natural challenges.
Sometimes we need to work a bit harder, and sometimes rest a bit harder. But balance is not all about how much time we spend at work or home, it’s about the quality of activities we engage in and their overall return to us in terms of energy, satisfaction and wellbeing.
- ‘A state where you have a sense of control and satisfaction over how you work and live, in order to have enough time and good energy to achieve the goals and activities that are important to you, while at the same time sustaining your health, relationships and beliefs (whether it happens unintentionally, or you have to ‘work at’ balance with effort, negotiation, support and applied strategies)’.
- A good work-life balance means you have harmony between the different aspects of your life. The benefits gained from each area are able to support and strengthen the others. Many people are learning to blend their work and personal lives successfully (work-life integration). (Health Direct GOV).
- Living a meaningful life that acknowledge the whole person and meets crucial human needs.
• Health and wellbeing
• Reduces Stress and prevents Burnout
• Enables perspective, meaning, connection
• Social support
• Fun and enjoyment
• Learning and development
• Self-esteem – confidence
• Employee wellbeing
• Increased sense of control and better perspective
• Increased productivity, creativity, capacity
• Tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness
• Morale, satisfaction and motivation
• Retention of talent
• Reduces turnover and recruitment costs
Signs of Imbalance
• Loss of energy, motivation, flexibility
• Stress, frustration, worry
• Loss of empathy and patience
• Pessimistic outlook or negative attitude
• Not getting enough, sleep, exercise or rest
• Change in performance
• Difficulty managing work, people and life
• Withdrawal or getting overly involved
Critical Activities for Work Life Balance
- Work time (work has many benefits)
- Home responsibilities (managing households)
- Social time (connecting, belonging)
- Exercise/Physical activity time
- Recreation time (hobbies, relaxation, fun)
- Personal time (learning, spirituality, identity)
Barriers to Balance
• Unaware of imbalance or our needs
• Forgetting the high priority of YOU!
• Motivation and energy
• Time and unexpected events
• Competing priorities
• Negative or unhelpful thinking
• Too busy or too many responsibilities
• Too tired or ‘stressed’
• It won’t work
• No one else is doing it, the boss isn’t!
• I tried once but it didn’t work
• My job will be at risk; they’ll think I’m lazy
Balance requires Self-Management
• Self-awareness (what’s needed)
• Goal setting (what needs to be different)
• Time management (managing the load)
• Assertiveness, asking for help and saying ‘no’
• Problem solving (removing the obstacles)
• Stress management (managing pressure)
• Checking on options for flexible work
• Identify priority activities you need in your life
• Re-evaluate your (realistic) expectations
• Create a buffer zone (we often do too much)
• Prioritise energy enhancing activities
• Small shifts in time boundaries or the type of activities you do can return bigger gains
• Practice new habits and boundaries
• Create a transition between work and home
• Disciplined start and stop times and boundaries
• Switching off (self, notifications and devices)
• Rituals to move between work to home mode
• Add one or two energy enhancing activities in
• Say ‘no’ or take some things out of your week
• Clarify role expectations with the workplace
• Develop a culture of balance and role-model it
• Revise your goals in line with your actual time
RESEARCH: Many people are ‘time poor’, constantly rushing to juggle different commitments. Australians work hard — with more than 1 in 10 employees working more than 50 hours per week, which is considered ‘very long hours’ by the OECD. 35% of Australian men and 42% of Australian women state that they were always or often rushed or pressed for time (ABS 2017). On average, Australians have 16 days of unused leave.
More detailed tips for work life balance can be found in our resources page.