In one of my recent articles, I explored work life balance and what it means to individuals. For me, work life balance means “allowing people to have a fulfilled life both in and outside of work”.
For many years, work life balance has been promoted by the government in the UK and millions of pounds have been invested into organisations to help them to implement new laws and guidelines. However, in many cases what has happened in practice has not solved the problem. But what actually is the problem?
According to figures from the National Statistics (UK), the average weekly hours worked were 31.9 in 2006, which is down from 32.9 in 1998. It also indicates that 1 in 4 employees work less than 30 hours per week. In addition, according to the Workplace Employment Relations Survey in 2004, the number of organisations offering flexible working options has increased:
– 26% offered flexitime in 2004, up from 19% in 1998
– 28% offered homeworking in 2004, up from 16% in 1998
– 73% offered parental leave in 2004 up from just 38% in 1998
This indicates that working long hours may not be the main issue, and the challenge for many may lie in reducing stress and pressure at work.
So how can you better balance your work and your life? Follow these tips to help you to find a better balance.
1. Carry out a life review
Take time out to look at where you are currently.
Do you want to carry on working the way you are?
Do you have enough time to spend with your friends and family?
Do you have enough time for your hobbies and leisure time?
Why don’t you keep a time diary for the week or two to check that you have the time to do everything you want to do as well as reviewing where you could better manage your time.
2. Organise your life
Spending time preparing what you want to achieve can help you to better manage your time both in your job and your life. Every minute you spend planning can save you 5-10 minutes in actually doing the task.
Set aside some time at the beginning and end of everyday to prioritise what you want to achieve and the importance of each task. Then at the end of each day, review what you have achieved (and congratulate yourself!).
If a job seems large and unmanageable, firstly determine what you actually want to achieve. Then, secondly break down the goal into smaller chunks and do small steps every day until you have achieved it.
3. Learn the art of delegation
Delegation involves you passing responsibility for completing a task or piece of work to another person. It can help them to learn how to complete a task, and enables you to spend more time on the other important parts of your work or life. You can also use delegation where another person’s skills in a particular area are better than yours.
Delegation includes training someone to do a particular job or getting buy in from a partner to do the washing up. To effectively delegate in either situation is similar.
Decide what you want to delegate.
Explain what you want done and the reasons that you need their help.
Let go of the task.
Give credit for work that has been successfully completed.
4. Review your working arrangements
The average person works 40 hours a week for around 40 years, which equates to 80,000 hours of their life.
To be truly satisfied in your job, it is important that the job is right for you, but additionally that it fits around other arrangements. Many companies offer flexible working such as part time working, job sharing, home based working or even career breaks or sabbaticals. These can help to support the other things that are important to you.
If you feel that a review of your working arrangements will help you, arrange a time to talk to your manager and review your options.
5. Look after yourself
Finally, it is easier to achieve work life balance if you are healthy and have time to relax and enjoy your life.
Develop and maintain interests that are not related to work and cultivate relationships with your family and friends. A regular exercise routine, eating healthily and sleeping well can help you to restore your energy and allow you to live a better balanced life.