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Posts Tagged ‘work life balance’

If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

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A change is as good as a holiday, they say, but a holiday is in fact what many people need. Office burnout happens more than you may think, and there are many workers, both professional and volunteer, who would gain a lot from some good old-fashioned time off.

With computers in our homes and networks in our pockets we are increasingly working longer hours. We try to be efficient and are tied to these devices, until we get to the point we need to ask ourselves, “How effective can all 80 hours per week of this “work” actually be?”

Being able to truly ‘get stuff done’ relies on clear, positive, critical thinking. Higher processing skills function better when a person is well rested and relaxed, so it follows that someone who is sleeping well will perform better at work than someone who is anxious and suffering insomnia. Likewise, people returning to work after a holiday are really more productive than those who try to slog it our for months or even years on end.

There are a myriad of benefits to taking a holiday besides the simple rest and relaxation. Getting a change of perspective can make the world of difference to the way someone approaches work problems. Solutions can sometimes be found ‘outside the box’ when an individual takes the time to look at things a different way. A change of perspective and a little space to breath from under a heavy workload can help a person live a little lighter, and encourage them to get more creative with their approach to work.

The big thinking required for growth of a company or other organisation can happen during periods of rest. Taking a breather also creates space in which it is more difficult to grow resentment and can improve morale of workers more than almost any other measure.

If stress is piling up and work is seeming impossible, it might not be that you are falling short or that the work is too difficult. Perhaps it is simply time to take a break.

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DeathtoStock_Wired1It is said that you can’t have it all. Something’s got to give.

Is that really such a bad thing?

There will always be times when work wins over home, or life in general, and at other times family comes first. Instead of fighting the work life balance battle perhaps we should just accept it and reduce our stress in a different way. Feeling like you can’t have it all and are somehow failing just makes matters worse. Accepting that there will always be a level of imbalance could be just what you need to take the pressure off.

If you have just been promoted or hope to be, begun a course of study, opened your own business or have taken on extra hours or even another job to save for something special, work is going to have a higher priority in your life. All of these events have an end point, are a means to an end and are hopefully worth the sacrifice or the imbalance they create. With appropriate communication and coping strategies the people left at home whilst work takes over will be there to keep the wheels turning and support you until the balance tips in their direction. But it is essential that the work focus doesn’t take over and becomes the new normal. When the goals are achieved, the holiday taken or the study completed those who made the bigger sacrifice need to be rewarded with your time and attention. Don’t keep working the extra hours or take on more study because it becomes a habit or an expectation.

There can also be times when family or home takes precedence. For example welcoming a new baby, moving house, enjoying the well earned holiday you took a second job to save for, or less joyful events such as illness or relationship break down. These things can be out of your control and sometimes occur at the worst possible time, if there is such a thing as a good time. But you’ll find that as important as you are it is unlikely you are indispensable and the job or task will go on without you. It may not be the same and even lack a little something but if it can’t wait then it will go on regardless of your input. Organisations and managers accept that their people have lives and other responsibilities, and like the situation when work takes over, these times don’t last forever. When the crisis or illness is over, the boxes are unpacked or the baby is home then your attention can be diverted to make your work a higher priority once again.

How about embracing ‘intentional imbalance’ instead of work life balance. When you stop feeling guilty about the time you are devoting or not devoting you have more energy and focus to the task at hand. But there still needs to be a clear plan and defined goals. Be sure to record your aims and timeframes and share them with the people around you who will be most affected. If you get carried away or steer off course they will be the ones to remind you and drag you back.

It’s ok to stop worrying about achieving work life balance. You can do anything. But not everything.

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stack-20241_640According to a new report released by Hudson, ‘work life balance’ tops the list of priorities for Australian workers in 2015. No longer just a buzz word, work life balance is sought by 70% of professionals interviewed. Whether it’s working parents hoping to spend some quality time with their children, or people with time-consuming hobbies, workers make no secret of the fact that they may like their job, but time to pursue their ‘real life’ is important too. Work life balance now beats out higher salary or career advancement to be the aspect of employment considered the most important.

A feeling of belonging, or fitting in to an organisation’s culture also ranks high for workers at all levels, actually topping the list for senior executives. It seems workers at this level appreciate the sense that they are in the right organisation, and find more fulfillment in their jobs if there is no stress from workplace cultural clashes.

A good benefits package is also in the top five things job seekers look for in prospective employment. Generally workers are seeking to better the deal they currently have, whether it be receiving a higher salary, switching to a more prestigious brand or  earning a more impressive job title. Aussie workers like to feel that they are heading towards the top, and many will part ways with a company if they get stuck at the same level for too long.

If the cultural fit is not right, or the work life balance is off kilter? The report says 8 out of 10 workers have an up to date CV ready to show recruitment firms and headhunters, even if they are not actively job seeking.

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businesswomen drinking coffeeThe point of diminishing returns is a fundamental economic law. It basically states that at some point the maximum potential for profit is reached, and once you reach that point your returns will diminish until they reach zero, no matter how much extra effort, supply, or “work” you put in. This law is especially true when it comes to working overtime achieving your objectives.

While there may be times that you need to burn some extra “midnight oil” to get the work done, those times should be few and far between. If you find that you habitually stay late at work, or take work home with you thinking you are “getting ahead,” if you are honest with yourself you will find that the opposite is true.

Everyone needs to find a reasonable balance between their work and personal lives, and having time off on a regular basis is part of this much needed balance. Without it, you will find that in time you will become less focussed on your work and actually get less done, despite putting in more hours.

So, learn to take a break, and don’t feel guilty about the time you spend away from work. If you’ve completed your tasks for the day, enjoy getting out of the office a bit early. If you take time to look up from the grindstone on a regular basis you might find the inspiration that you need to come up with original thoughts and innovative ideas that are crucial to staying ahead of your competition. After all, it’s hard to think outside of the box if you stay trapped in your square office or cubicle all day.

Lead by example and let your employees and team members know that it’s the quality of their work, not the quantity that matters. You are a bright, creative person with a unique, individual personality and talents and you can contribute something special to your workplace.

It’s okay to take time off. In fact, it’s essential that you do. Re-establish the balance and kick those diminishing returns to the kerb.

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In our last post we looked at some of the distractions that bother us when we work from home.  As you probably know we have just scratched the top of the iceberg.

Let’s scratch some more.

A Little Separation Goes a Long Way

If possible, try to have a separate phone line for your business and personal calls, or check with your telephone company and find out if they can issue two numbers for the same line but with each having a special, identifying ring. This way, you can screen your calls by sound rather than having to look away from your work and check caller ID. Leave your personal calls until you are done working for the day. Only answer your business line during the time that you have set aside for work hours while you are at home.

Additional Strategies

While most of these suggestions deal with the physical work at home environment, they apply to the online environment as well. Email, social media and other online sites can also interrupt the flow of your work day.

  • Make a point to turn off your email notifications. Break bad habits before they start, and resolve to not get into the habit of checking your Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram or other social media sites multiple times a day.
  • While it’s okay to take a break once in a while, make a routine where you will only take a short break to check your email or social sites once a day. Absolutely do not leave these programs up and running in the background, or the 10 minutes that you set aside for a quick message or post can easily turn into lost time.

Work out which are your key distractions and do something about them.  Your stress levels will keep building until you do.

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donotdisturbWith telecommuting, many common tasks can be accomplished just as well from home as they are at the office, so for many people, working from home can be very beneficial. Usually working at home saves money in terms of not having to pay commute to the office each day, or buy special clothes or pay to eat lunch out. However, if you aren’t disciplined, the inevitable distractions that occur when working at home can be very costly and result in decreased efficiency and productivity, and possibly result in the loss of clients or work.

The following are some ideas and general rules of thumb to keep in mind when working at home to help reduce distractions and maintain productivity.

Establish Physical Boundaries

  • While it’s not absolutely necessary to have a room with a door or other designated space that is solely dedicated to your work from home efforts, it can certainly help. If it’s not possible to set up a home office, try to select a space that can be solely yours during your working hours.
  • Try to choose an area that is quiet, comfortable, and free of noise or other distractions. Ensure there is enough space where you can keep handy your office supplies and other items that you need to do your work. Avoid areas that are prone to congestion and traffic from family, roommates and friends, such as the kitchen table, the living room or den.

Make A Schedule And Keep Set Hours

  • As human beings, most of us find security and peace of mind from establishing routines. When working from home, try to establish some routines and schedules.
  • Make certain that everyone in the home knows what hours you will be working from home each day and that just because you happen to be in the house, you really aren’t “free” to handle interruptions or things that pop up.
  • Before you begin working from home, if you live with several roommates or perhaps a spouse and/or other family members, make certain that everyone is aware and on board with your working from home schedule.
  • Have a plan for how family members or roommates will handle theoretical “emergencies” before they occur when you are working from home. Make certain that if it isn’t a true emergency, that they understand that if it’s just special news that they would like to share, that it needs to keep until you are off work, just like it would need to if you were away working in the office.
  • If you are the parent of an infant or young child, make certain that there is another parent or other adult available to watch the children while you are working from home, or be prepared to not get much done. Let good friends and neighbors also know your work schedule and explain beforehand that just because you are at home, you are not available during your working hours.

No matter what you do, you will still need some discipline and some days that can be hard to find.  Next week we will share a few more ideas to help you maintain your work focus.

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