Work life balance isnt a myth.
Australians still work the longest hours in the developed world, according to a 2012 study by the Australia Institute. The study found that we spend an average of 1855 hours at work each year – 200 more hours per year than other countries.
Finding the right balance is something we might aspire to, it seems, as a country, we’re not succeeding in achieving it.
At a recent management congress, I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Phillips, (Author, Media Personality, Life Coach and founder of Amazing Coaching). Lisa shares her thoughts on how to reach that oh so elusive, state of balance….
It’s a choice
One of the key messages Lisa tries to impart to her clients is that implementing a work/life balance takes perseverance. “Make the choice and stick to it,” she advises. “Like anything new, it’s going to feel a bit strange at first, but it’s about identifying your values and setting boundaries.” Lisa suggests making decisions that will create more balance and then prioritising those decisions, without fear of what your co-workers might think. “Put a note in your diary to leave work on time at least twice this week. Treat it like an important meeting with yourself and honour it. The fact is, the world won’t end because you don’t get that report finished – it’s your perceptions that need to change.”
Take more holidays
According to the Australia Institute, one-third of Australians do not use any of their annual leave, however a recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young found that for each additional 10 hours of annual leave a staff member took, that employee’s end-of-year performance rating improved by 8%. Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project (an initiative that helps companies improve productivity through improving the well being of staff) recently argued in an article for The New York Times that working less hours, having more frequent naps and ensuring you leave the office for lunch all have a dramatically positive affect on productivity.
Challenge the culture
Lisa Phillips says that while many workplaces outwardly encourage a positive work/life balance, the internal culture is often counter-productive. “Work/life balance must be supported culturally for a start. It’s incredibly hard to leave your desk on time if all of your colleagues are still plugging away,” she says. “Being aware that balancing work and life doesn’t mean you’re not working hard is vital. I can’t stress this enough: happier employees are more productive. Once organisations realise this it is much easier for employees to make those changes and improve their output and overall happiness.” The point is, to lead by example. It gives co-workers permission to follow through with their own plans to work and play equally hard.
Decide on an appropriate time each day and TURN IT OFF!
Clive Hamilton, Director of The Australia Institute, told ABC Radio he thought Australians needed to make a shift back to, “enjoying life more, spending time with family and doing that thing you always wanted to do”. The good news is, that the statistics show, that kicking back benefits Australian families and employers alike.
How have you achieved a better life/work balance?
To contact Lisa: