8 steps to a better work-life balance

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  • 1. Prioritise

    • Set goals but be realistic
    • Postpone when you can
    • Learn to prioritise

    If you are going to aim for top marks in all of your courses this Study Period, hold the best birthday party for your seven-year-old, give your friend a surprise baby shower, start a brand new project at work and make plans to start exercising this week, then you are setting yourself up for a burnout.

    You need to set goals - but you also need to focus and be realistic.

    Consider what needs to happen this month and scope your activities into priorities.

    If a major social event is still a few months away, can you start planning next month? Are you about to start a large project at work that may mean you have to work late often and might compromise your plans to exercise? Think of your priorities and do not set yourself up for failure by failing to plan.

    One trick is to prioritise. What goals must be accomplished and what is the time frame you have to work with? What projects and activities can you shift around if you have to?

    Commit to things that are important and urgent and put non-essential plans on the backburner.

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  • 2. Learn to say no

    • Let go of the sense of duty
    • Uncover what saps your energy
    • Eliminate distractions

    Often we say yes to events and requests out of a feeling of duty or because we feel the need to impress and feel ‘wanted’ – is this something you do? Be honest.

    Have you ever said yes to something that just saps your energy?.

    Take a good, hard look at anything that is not enhancing your personal or professional life. Get rid of all those demands that don’t add value to your life and wellbeing.

    Stop saying yes to things that add, overwhelm or bring chaos to your life. Take control. Eliminate anything that is a distraction.

    Remember, you only have so many hours during the day. Saying yes to anything that fills your heart with dread translates into saying no to things that truly matter. When you have the opportunity to drop something on your agenda that serves no real purpose – allow yourself to let go.

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  • 3. Schedule regular down time

    • Put relaxation time in your diary
    • Search out quiet activities
    • Plan to spend “you time”

    Life is getting busier and busier. Because of advances in technology, most people are connected every waking hour – or worse – 24 hours a day. Life wasn’t always this way and it doesn’t need to be. You can let go and free yourself from your digital leash.

    Often, when we fail to diarise something, it simply doesn’t get done. That’s why making time to schedule in “down time” or relaxation should be a priority. Remember, If it’s not in your calendar, the chances of getting it done are much slimmer.

    How many years have you been planning on writing a book or running a marathon? Failing to schedule down time may be the reason why you never seem to take time out to plan to do the things that matter to you on a personal level.

    The quiet times in between our family, work and health priorities are often when we gain our greatest insights and realise our deepest desires and dreams.

    If you keep thinking that it will happen “one of these days”, it never will. Make plans for activities with your family and friends well in advance to make sure that when the time rolls around it is firmly planned in your calendar.

    Don’t be afraid to schedule some “me-time” for yourself. Reward yourself. Don’t forget to exercise, eat well and stay healthy. Stay connected to the people you love and offer support in return when you can.

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  • 4. Put a structure in place

    • Create structure
    • Practise good time management
    • Pay attention to important goals

    Have you prioritised your list of goals? Have you sorted out your “too long” to-do list and cleared off all the unnecessary items?

    If you have reached this far, it’s now time to take the next step. You will need to create a structure and practise good time management.

    While doing things on the fly can be fun, not having a structure is a bit like treating your house like a deck of cards, one wrong move and everything comes tumbling down.

    Develop a routine. What time do you plan on waking in the morning? Who will be taking care of the weekly grocery shop and when? What happens if you need extra time at work? Who helps the kids with their homework?

    Pay attention to the important goals. Focus on tasks that will advance these goals and benefit everybody in the household.

    Sit down with your partner or housemates and discuss all these things. Create a plan. Do not take on more than you can handle.

    Structures take only a short time to set up but once in place they can save you valuable time, energy and space. Embrace structure and reap the benefits of a well-ordered life.

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  • 5. Outsourcing will save your life

    • Learn to delegate
    • Actively ask for help
    • Make time for enjoyable activities

    Don’t be afraid to delegate. Ask your partner, colleagues and kids to help you out when they can with tasks that are large or small. Often, people are more willing to help than we think if we only ask them!.

    Can you afford to bring in a cleaner once a month? Could you ask your parents to babysit your kids once in a while so you could have a date with your significant other half? Could you ask the kid down the street to mow the lawn? Would one of your colleagues help you prepare statistics for your report because they have skills with spreadsheets?

    How about ordering groceries online? Maybe share the pick-up and drop-off duties with a neighbour?

    Perhaps you could swap chores with your friends. Offer to do something that you enjoy for something that you don’t have time for or rather not do if you can get away with it.

    Remember, you don’t have to do every single thing by yourself. It is okay to get help. Make a list in your mind of people that can help take some basic tasks off your hands to free up your time. Leaders delegate, followers try to do it all themselves.

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  • 6. Have the right attitude

    • Adopt a confident mindset
    • Visualise the finish line
    • Use positive self-talk

    It is how you perceive your life that will determine what your life looks like. Your thoughts and your actions will determine your success.

    Adopt a mindset which allows you to define success on your own terms. If you make peace with certain realities in your life – you will be much happier. It’s important to trust yourself and believe in the things you are passionate about.

    Set your inner landscape to preparing for success. Visualise yourself at the finish line and believe in yourself. Some of the most successful people have an unwavering sense of self – they simply believe that they can achieve. Adopt this mindset and see opportunities arrive and negativity disappear.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, “Some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being."

    This non-profit medical practice and medical research group says, “The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management.”

    Set your mindset with a positive attitude and make your goals a priority. Use self-talk to change your thinking incrementally each day. “Having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.”.

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  • 7. Begin small

    • Start small
    • Establish good habits
    • Avoid burnout

    Working towards a work-life balance is not going to be the easiest thing that you ever do, but it will be worthwhile. Often, we don’t need to make big changes to see big results.

    Start small. Nobody expects you to master this technique in one day. Define what your perfect work-life balance means to you. What does it look like? It doesn’t have to be what your friends or your colleagues think it should be.

    Relax. Taking one small, consistent action will make a big difference to your life.

    Forbes’ Adelaide Lancaster suggests thinking big and starting small. “Establishing good habits and resisting bad ones go a long way to preventing burnout,” they say. “Instead of pre-determining a hypothetical outcome, get clarity by experimenting with various strategies.”

    “Experimentation will help you get more information.” Do little things to reorganise your life and you will soon start to see small improvements in your day to day stress levels and routine. Don’t try to implement lots of changes all at once, or you might be overwhelmed or face burnout.

    “Keeping your focus on building long term momentum, establishing good habits and taking small steps can help build momentum that will take you closer to your business goals,” Lancaster says.

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  • 8. Conclusion

    It can be said that not having a good work-life balance can have big implications on your mental health and family life.

    According to a recent study by Duxbury and Higgins, 25% of people report that their work responsibilities interfere with their ability to fulfil their responsibilities at home

    Melissa Abercromby a journalist and civil engineer says, “For employees, especially the younger generation who are faced with long hours, the expectations of 24/7 connection and increasing pressure of globalisation are beginning to demand changes from their employers.”

    According to the Australian Work and Life Index Report 2014, “Regardless of whether working short or long part-time or full-time hours, women have higher work-life interference than men.”

    But it’s not smooth sailing for men either. The same report says, “Working four or more hours longer than preferred is associated with as much work-life interference as working long hours.”

    Also, the time of the week that we overwork is significant as well. “In addition to the length of working hours, the scheduling of these hours also has the potential to create substantial work-life demands and strains,” according to the report.

    “Working early mornings, evenings or nights not only presents challenges to biological functions such as sleep, it is often incompatible with the rhythms and schedules of social, family and community activities.

    So, achieving a work-life balance is an essential ingredient to a good life and a successful career. Use the techniques presented here to get things under control and enjoy the personal and professional benefits.

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