5 tips for managing your work-life balance

As the new year gets well and truly underway, it’s easy to feel like you’re back on the old time-poor treadmill. Long hours at work, school commitments, social engagements, and a never-ending to-do list means there’s precious little time for yourself. Ever!   If it’s any consolation, you’re in the same boat with lots of…

As the new year gets well and truly underway, it’s easy to feel like you’re back on the old time-poor treadmill. Long hours at work, school commitments, social engagements, and a never-ending to-do list means there’s precious little time for yourself. Ever!
 
If it’s any consolation, you’re in the same boat with lots of Australians. More than 1 in 10 of us work over 50 hours a week, which is considered ‘very long hours’ by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Coorperation and Development). 
 
And letting work take precedence over everything else can take a toll on your wellbeing – raising your stress levels and even leading to burnout. So if you’d like to make 2021 the year you carve out a better work-life balance, here’s how to do just that.
 

1.Create a realistic schedule 

 
Look at what you want and need to achieve every week. It’ll probably include items such as work, spend time with family, exercise, buy groceries, clean, etc.
 
Look at what you can change – and what you can outsource. Can you hire a cleaner? Set up a weekly list and buy groceries online? Organise meal prep? Hire someone to walk Fido? Drop activities or tasks that aren’t essential to claw back some essential hours in your schedule. Similarly, see if there’s any way you can telecommute in order to save commuting time. Or change your hours so you’re not spending hours in traffic. Little tweaks to your schedule can add up to big changes for your work-life balance.
 

2. Find a job you love (that works for you)

 
Life is short – so why spend your days slogging your guts out in a role that sucks all your time and leaves you miserable? It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, working for a bad boss or in a toxic environment, and if that’s the case for you, it’s time to get a new job. 
 
When job-hunting, pay close attention to the work culture of any organisation you’re applying to work for. Do they actively provide an environment that enables employees to have a better work-life balance – perhaps by allowing better flexibility or the ability to work from home? It’s worth asking about the culture in your interview and seeing if work-life balance is built into the company ethos.
 

3. Make your health a priority

 
When you work long hours and have normalized that, it can be difficult to scale back and consciously make time for your health and wellbeing. But to create more of a work-life balance, it’s something you need to do.
 
That means carving out time in your day to exercise. Making time to go to the GP. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep. Or even just taking a sick day when you need to. Putting yourself and your health first will mean you’ll be a far happier person – and more productive employee, too. 
 

4. Set boundaries between work and life

 
If you’re the type to work weekends and check work emails 24/7 on your phone, it might feel alien to you to take a step back and unplug. But research indicates that being constantly connected can lead to anxiety, stress and pressure on your personal relationships.
 
Setting boundaries might mean having a separate work phone, resisting the urge to hop on the laptop after dinner, and taking weekends off completely. Use the time to hang out with loved ones, read a book, go for a hike or just do what you enjoy to let yourself recharge. And don’t save up that holiday leave – everyone needs a break, and taking holidays and switching off completely a few times a year is essential.
 

5. Use apps and tools to keep you accountable

 
Creating a better work-life balance is well worth it for your heath, happiness and general wellbeing, but it can take time to get it right.
 
Making changes, adjusting to the new balance in your life and setting new habits takes practice, and might be easier with a little help – whether that’s a calendar on the fridge with your new schedule, or a smartphone app to keep you focused on your goals. The Streaks app is a simple but effective habit-forming app that’s great for keeping yourself accountable.
 
And if you find you need help with stress, mental health issues or burnout, don’t forget to chat to your GP and see if you can tap into the many resources that are available.