Australians are living longer but this doesn’t mean we’re happier. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently asked Australians to rate their work life balance and found we came in below the international average. Although we have a reputation for being a laidback country, it seems we’re not practising what we preach.
Recognising when our work and life isn’t balanced
As a busy entrepreneur, business owner, coach and mentor, Peta has learnt work-life balance the hard way while running two pole dancing studios. Over the years, she’s managed to find her balance by recognising the warning signs when something is amiss.
To spot the signs, you must first recognise your work-life balance is askew. When you’ve acknowledged these signs, you can then make conscious steps to improve your work-life balance.
Some of the warning signs include:
Spending long hours at your workplace after your team has gone home
Working every weekend without having down time
Having your family complain they never see you
Being distracted by emails and your phone when you’re not at work
Missing important life events, like your child’s school sports day
Not being able to switch off or step away from your business
Positive state of mind
To achieve a healthy work-life balance, you need to have the right frame of mind. Being busy at work all the time shouldn’t be seen as a badge of honour. Working long hours shouldn’t be something that’s admired.
Once you realise that making time for your personal life is important, you will be on the road to having a positive frame of mind when it comes to getting the balance right.
Achieving the perfect work-life balance doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and effort. Don’t expect immediate results but acknowledge change will take time.
Treat the problem
Don’t push out the elements of your life you love to avoid cutting back on work ‘obligations’.
You might believe your workout isn’t as important as a work meeting – but if it’s keeps you healthy and destressed then it is as important as work, if not more so.
To address work-life balance issues, Peta says you need firstly tackle the cause. If you’re simply cutting out the parts of your life you enjoy instead of realising it’s the work tasks that need to be minimised, you are dealing with the symptoms of your work-life unbalance, rather than tackling the core problems.
Stop feeling ‘selfish’
Self-care is different from being selfish. If you feel that when you take time for yourself, you’re being ‘selfish’, you might need to change your attitude. We all need to look after ourselves so we don’t become rundown and overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself puts you in a better position to lead your team and stay organised.
Recognising you’re not being selfish but simply giving yourself self-care is one positive step on the path to improving your work-life balance.
Getting your work and life balanced again
Once you’ve recognised your work and life is unbalanced, you’ve already fought half the battle. The next challenge is to get the balance right again.
To do this, you need to find a way to manage your workload and personal life – and for each of us this will be different because we all have alternative limits and unique personal needs. For example, if you have young children you might prioritise family time more significantly than if you are single and without children.
Getting the work-life balance right
When you start to improve your work-life balance, you’ll see positive signs that’ll help show you’re on the right track. These can include:
Feeling on top of your workload without sacrificing time family time
Feeling motivated, energised and prepared to tackle tough decisions
Waking up in the mornings feeling refreshed and ready to embrace the day, rather than exhausted and wanting to stay in bed
Getting the work-life balance right takes time and effort, but with small steps, we can improve our lives for the better.