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Work Life Balance
6 May 2015

5 STEPS TO FINDING WORK LIFE BALANCE

We all struggle with it, I work for myself and still find myself falling back into old habits of being obsessed with being over-worked. I used to think it was a Sydney cultural fault, but travelling a lot around the world I have found it is not just restricted to our hustling Sydney City. We are all being influenced by a world that is changing incredibly fast, technology has allowed us to branch out into worlds we never knew existed. It allows us to get things done faster, better and cheaper anywhere…anytime.

This of course has created a world in which we never switch off, we are constantly surrounded by social media or on smart phones, tablets, laptops, computers, smart TV’s. You name it, we have access to it 24/7. So why do you think we are all run down, burnt out and of ill health? If we aren’t struggling with our physical health, we sure are with our mental health.

In todays society it’s rare to meet someone who is 100% healthy and happy and living a life that is truly balanced in a way that allows them to thrive. Heck I even know yoga and meditation teachers that are burnt out. So why do we do it to ourselves and how can we fix it?

I have been there climbing the corporate career ladder, working ridiculous hours each week and weekends trying to get ahead. I was even doing my MBA on top of all this and wondering why my health was deteriorating at a rapid rate. I wish I could blame someone maybe my boss, my parents, my bank balance but the only person I could truly blame and take responsibility for was myself, so that’s what I did. You see how can we blame others that are living in a world like trained monkeys…monkey see monkey do.

Yes the good old saying “I don’t expect you to work back, but I do expect that deadline to be met alongside every other task you are to complete by the end of the week…don’t care how you do it, just get it done”. Oh and of course take all the breaks you need in-between because we offer flexibility. As a high achiever I always wanted results, not for anyone else’s benefit except my own. I was out to prove something and that I did, but along the way I gave up so much.

My friends, my family, my relationships, my hobbies, having fun, laughing and enjoying life. All of this was put on the side lines so I could achieve phenomenal results for someone else’s organisation. I see so many people doing this it’s mind blowing and yes I get it, we all have bills to pay and yes some of us “love” our jobs. Of course you do… which part though? The part where you leave so early you don’t have time for breakfast or the gym or to walk outside and see what the weather has brought today?

The part where you are too tired to socialise with friends and relatives or you can’t handle the added stress of dealing with their issues on top of your own and your busy week? Work should never become our priority and if it is yours I can say with all honesty you need to re-align yourself because you will suffer. If not now, eventually you will burn out and your health, your body, your family and your friends will pay the price.

Below I list my top 5 tips for creating work-life balance whilst still thriving in your career:

1. Get clear on your values – what’s important to you? This will help you make smart decisions and priorities the tasks that mean most to you. If your health is important then any activity or task relating to you improving your health should become number one. If it is having fun then the same applies re-prioritise those things in your life that make you feel alive.

2. Restrict your work hours – yes I am serious, as a senior manager of a large marketing company I realised that the employees who worked ridiculous hours were not the hardest workers nor were they the star performers. Often they were the ones with time management issues and procrastination issues who struggled to delegate, prioritise and manage their time. Stop assuming because your working back late that your managers will think your the star of the team. Management look at results and burning yourself out working long hours won’t get you those results. If your hours are set at 9-5 stick to them, work on effectively managing your time to get your job done effectively within your allocated hours…no excuses.

3. Switch your emails off – unless you are a top surgeon or have a career in saving lives of some sort you do not need to be on call 24/7 and nor do you need to be checking emails 24/7. Anything you read tonight will most probably have to wait until tomorrow anyway so what exactly is the point of you reading your emails as late as 11pm at night? Set a standard with your staff, your boss and your clients. You can set expectations and you can change them. Stop checking and replying to emails after hours, soon people will adjust and if something is urgent and cannot wait they can always pick up the phone and call you. I would deactivate my emails after 6pm weekdays and on a friday to force myself to switch off and truly relax and enjoy my own time. Being “always on” means that you are in a constant state of high energy/stress and will be having a huge effect on the time you spend with friends and family (even if you can’t recognise it).

4. Make time for yourself as a top priority – as I said earlier you may not be noticing the ill effects of being constantly switched on and giving 110% to work but soon it will become evident your health, weight and emotional state will all start to suffer along with your relationships and friendships. Prevention is always better than cure. how can you give 110% at anything if your not allowing your body time to repair? Always make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night this is the number one recommendation i have for people that are working high demanding busy careers. Your body and your brain will suffer if your not allowing it rest time. It will increase your stress levels, stress hormones and affect your ability to make smart decisions. Each day allow yourself some time to be in nature without any technology. Leave your phones and music devices at home and go for a 20 minute walk in nature and breathe in the fresh air. This sounds really simple and for some of you your probably thinking as if this could make a difference to my day but I guarantee you will see the benefits within a few days. Remember prioritise yourself first so you can give 110% later. Meditation, yoga, swimming, light exercise or listening to music are all great ways to relax at the start or end of each day.]

5. Allocate dedicated scheduled time with family and friends – I think I can safely say if your still reading this post you absolutely have work-life balance issues and if that’s the case then you more than likely have a bunch of friends and family that you owe some dedicated quality time with. Rather than just saying yes to an offer every now and then because you feel like you have to prioritise yourself and your week to make time for family and friends where you can switch off from work and focus on them. This may mean you decline the group get togethers and events that really you don’t feel you have enough time to attend or that you don’t get to actually spend the time with the people who you care about at these events. If that’s the case then don’t feel guilted into attending these, your friends and family would much rather spend 1 on 1 quality time together than get a passing hello at a group bbq every few months. Treat your friends and family how you want to be treated, even if they don’t do the same in return. If you have friends that you are always hesitant to agree to meet with ask yourself why? Are these friends creating added pressure and/or stress to your life? If the answer is yes then distance yourself from them. You don’t have to be surrounded by anyone who you feel has a negative impact on your life and you don’t have to be rude about it either. Graciously decline their invitations and create distance between yourself and the people that may not matter as much to you as those you are struggling to find the time to see.

Comment below and tell us what steps you have taken to create a better work-life balance or what it is you struggle with the most? I will also offer free health and lifestyle coaching advice in response to any of your questions, to get you started to a healthier, happier you. If this post helped you please share with friends and family.

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