Real Talk: Does Work/Life Balance Exist?

Nathalie Jones

Monday, 24 April 2017

Australians work an estimated $110 billion dollars a year in unpaid overtime. Running a business is inherently stressful, even if you only work regular business hours (which none of us do!). It’s worth spending some time learning how to work smarter not harder and enjoying more quality time with your family and friends.

There has been a range of studies into how work/life balance (or lack thereof) develops, and the factors that influence whether we are able to manage flexible working arrangements. Many people express concern around speaking up and asking for flexible hours, for fear their job will be at risk. For small business owners, often the responsibility falls to the owner to work longer hours in order to get everything done.

With all of this in mind, how can you take back control of your week and enjoy quality time with your family and friends? Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, manager or employee, we’ve got some top tips for striking that balance:

1. No screens for an hour before bed

Getting a good night's rest will have you feeling refreshed. It also opens up more time during the day for other activities. Studies show that the blue light emitted from your smartphone, tablet and laptop screen inhibits sleep. Try reading a book, drawing or playing a board game instead of reaching for your phone before bedtime.

2. Set boundaries

Set finite limits on when you will, and will not, work. To illustrate, some companies have implemented cut-offs, where employees are unable to make calls or send emails after a certain time. Whilst this isn't always viable, especially if you are a small business owner, try to set aside some (uninterrupted) personal and family time each day.

3. Optimise quality time

Use time-saving tricks like online grocery shopping and direct debit bill payments, so that you don’t have to spend time and energy on these tasks.

4. Set goals

Remember the saying: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail? Write down your goals and commit to achieving them. This will save you time by offering clarity around which tasks you should spend time on, whether they be work or life-related.

5. Be proactive

When you achieve a good balance between your work and personal life, both will benefit, but only if you take steps to make changes and regain control. Once you’ve laid the groundwork, don’t wait until next Monday or next year. Start right now - perhaps you could email your staff members, letting them know that you won’t be available during certain hours. Perhaps book in an activity with family and friends that will force you to leave the office at a certain time. Make your social commitments non-negotiable in the same way that you do with your work commitments, and stick with it.

It’ll be tough at the beginning but once you’re in the swing of things, it’ll quickly become much easier. Over time, your colleagues will start to understand and respect the boundaries you’re establishing. Once you’ve made your work/life balance part of your regular routine, you’re well on your way to a fantastic year!

Nathalie is the Communications Manager at Valiant Finance. She has a double degree in Journalism and Law, and a background in the fintech space, hailing from Asia's largest fintech hub, Stone & Chalk.

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