6 Ways to Maintain a Good Work-life Balance
Work-life balance is a crucial part of today’s working world and is a case of striking a balance between life’s demands of family, leisure and personal responsibilities and your career or work. With various affecting factors such as technological advances, blurring the lines between work and personal time, and demographic changes, with an ageing parent group and children to care for, it becomes increasingly difficult to strike a balance between work and life. This can be extremely taxing in the financial sector, with many employees doing anything from 50 to 70 hours a week.
The negative effects of a poor work-life balance can include burnout, stress, health issues, or marital and family problems, having a negative effect on employees productivity and output. These issues can lead to high absenteeism and difficulty retaining employees for employers. So it is crucial for employees and employers to focus on maintaining work-life balance.
The positive effects of a good work-life balance includes reduced stress and increased leisure and family time for employees. This will improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and help employers to attract and retain good employees. These are all attractive factors for employers and should be a priority in the workplace for everyone.
It all boils down to using time effectively and not just efficiently, and with a few hints and tips this can be achieved easily as there are a few different methods of arranging your priorities and other financial ways of ensuring you have security for if you aren’t able to manage your time effectively given the tools that are available.
Eisenhower’s Urgent-Important Principle
Dwight D. Eisenhower, former U.S. President, was giving a speech in 1954 to the World Council of Churches quoted Dr J Roscoe Miller and stated, “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” and this is how he is said to have organised his workload and priorities.
Spending time on the things that are important over the things that are urgent is an effective and efficient way of time management. To be able to do this we need to understand the difference between the terms Important and Urgent:
- Important activities have an outcome that helps in achieving your goals, be those personal or professional.
- Urgent activities have an immediate demand on your attention. Usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals, these are often concentrated on first and can come with immediate consequences.
Grouping your workload into four simple groups, in order of priority, can help to structure your time more effectively:
- Important and Urgent
- Important but Not Urgent
- Not Important but Urgent
- Not Important and Not Urgent
Then schedule your tasks according to importance and urgency, this will help with your workload balance.
Make work-life balance a priority
Making your work-life balance a priority can be difficult if you aren’t in a high powered corporate position, where you are able to choose your projects and the constraints that they have on your time by delegating tasks. Turning down projects that could lead to you working a 60 hour plus week might not be the best way to advance your career, but you are responsible for yourself and need to weigh up the influencing factors around your life. Assess the time constraints that present themselves with any given project and how it will impact on your home life. If the balance is askew and you will end up unable to complete tasks for work because of responsibilities at home give that project a miss for now, there will be other opportunities.
Look at employers who encourage a positive work-life balance
If you are struggling to maintain your work-life balance and have the opportunity to look at alternate employers, it can help to know about a few things before you start looking. There are flexible working arrangements available and some of them may come with extensive benefits for your work-life balance. Look for jobs where you can work part-time, where the option of flexi-time is available, or where there are job sharing capabilities. Sometimes working from home is an option or the ability to self roster your time to fit around your ongoing commitments at home.
Income Protection Insurance
You could look into taking out Income Protection insurance to guard yourself against the possibility of unemployment, illness or accident due to your poor work-life balance. An income protection policy will provide a tax-free income and possibly pay out until you are able to return to work or retire.
There are two main types of policy which can cover you for those just in case circumstances. They are Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) and Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover (ASU). PHI, not to be confused with Private Health Insurance which covers the cost of medical procedures and bills, is a means of protecting a portion of your income in the event of illness or an accident. It usually ensures you can continue to receive 50% of your income. ASU on the other hand ensures you can continue to keep up repayments on your mortgage, rent or any other debts with the possibility of access to some extra income to help support you and your family.
Switch off your phone
Leaving work at work can be difficult for some people, but turning off your phone to disconnect from your work emails and calls can be beneficial for your work-life balance. Making sure you can focus on your free time with family and friends or just give yourself a well deserved break from your work. Modern technology is both a blessing and a curse, but allowing yourself time for yourself is just as important as work is for both your mental and physical health.
Be Proactive about work-life balance
If your employer doesn’t have any policies which promote a positive work-life balance, be the one to suggest change. Don’t rely on others to ensure you have a good work-life balance, but suggest the options of flexi-time, part-time working or even groups at work to help with childcare or any other commitments you may have. You never know who else may benefit from your suggestions.
Work-life balance may be difficult for some people, but with these few tips it should become a lot easier for those who are well informed and able to juggle many commitments at home with their working lives. Don’t forget to take time for yourself because the consequences of poor work-life balance could take a hefty toll on you both mentally and physically.