Monday, 11 May 2015

Balancing Work Life Balance

Over the weekend I read an article about a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which has attempted to rank its 36 member countries according to work life balance.  The UK was ranked 24th due to long work hours which in turn impacts on the amount of time spent on leisure (family time, socialising with friends, hobbies etc)  and personal care (eating, sleeping, washing etc) activities.  Incidentally Denmark came out top and Turkey were at the other end of the scale.  Further details of the report can be found here.

The article acknowledged that different people will define work life balance in different ways but generally speaking the gist is the same; it's about the choices we make.   

"Achieving balance means prioritising your career ambitions with health, pleasure, family and leisure time; in other words, it’s all about the choices we as individuals make."

I agree that it's all about choice, admittedly often the choices are pretty tough ones to make and they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages which we have to wade through but they are choices never the less. 

The article then went on to offer 6 questions to see if you have control over your work life balance, saying that if you answer yes to any of these, or more worryingly several of these, then you have lost control of your work life balance.

1. Are you working more than 60 hours a week?
2. Are you constantly re-arranging your schedule?
3. Do you always eat lunch at your desk?
4. Can you commit to a meeting several months in advance?
5. Do you travel more than 50% of the time?
6. Does the idea of taking a week long vacation scare you?

It's always a tricky one to measure and I agree that if you answer yes to any of these then it might be time revisit your choices before your health and wellbeing takes a massive hit.

However, I believe in prevention wherever possible and to me this feels like a case of having to implement a rather drastic set of changes in an attempt to "cure" your work life balance.   These are some big examples of a imbalanced work life balance and it's always going to be more tricky to bring it back to a more healthy even keel from this point.   Ideally I think we should try and be aware of how we're feeling with regard to our work life balance on a regular basis.  Hopefully this means that we would have the opportunity to make what could be quite small adjustments to our choices on a more frequent basis to realign our work life balance thus taking a more preventative course of action.

So with this in mind, I've created my own list of questions which I'm calling....and I suggest you take a rather deep breath now because I warn you, it's not a short snappy title...

Six Questions to See If You Need to Make Some Small Adjustments to Your Choices to Realign Your Work Life Balance...before you explode from trying

1. Do you feel stretched beyond what is comfortable by work and home life and feel like you're pulled from one thing to the next without much down time?

2. Do you wish you had more time together as a family just to have fun?

3. Do you struggle to get out of work on time and end up running / driving just that bit faster than you should and still you're the last parent to arrive at the school gates or after school club for pick up?

4. Do you struggle to find time to start that new book you're desperate to read that's been on your bedside table for 2 months now?

5. Do you struggle to find the time and energy to fit in exercise even though you'd like to get fitter?

6. Do you feel like you're on a playground roundabout and you just need to jump off for a bit to have a chance to get back on top of things?

If you have answered "yes" to any or many of these questions then now is the time to have a think about what small preventative adjustment you could make. 

If you need more ideas, then you're in luck as I'm very pleased to announce....drum roll please.....that we are very  close to the launch of the first Work Smart Work Savvy on-line course which tackles the issues above.  

OK, I've said enough for now....just a little tease...but rest assured, more information will be coming out from here at Work Smart Work Savvy HQ very soon so do keep popping back.

The course mentioned above is now available here called "4 Savvy Steps To Getting More Done Without Working More Hours".   There are more Q&As if you follow this link but here's a couple to give you a taster...

Who is this “4 Savvy Steps to Getting More Done” a perfect match for?
If you can relate to any of these, then this course has seriously got your name on it...
  • You feel like you’re on a round about and just need to jump off for a bit to catch up
  • You’re working really hard but it still feels like there’s still so much to do
  • You’re always busy and always rushing about
  • You feel like you need at least one extra pair of hands to stay on top of things
  • You feel stretched, a bit overwhelmed and can feel the stress creeping in
  • You have lots on your plate and can’t find time for yourself
  • You have blurred lines around your work and home life
  • You feel like you’re chasing your tail rather than making real progress
  • Your work life balance needs some tweaking and realignment
  • You feel you have endless demands coming at you from all angles
  • You want to get more done without working more hours

What’s the overall aim of “4 Savvy Steps to Getting More Done”?
To identify what’s important to you in your life, look at your working habits both good and not so good and give you the tools to be able to use your time smartly, to get what needs to be done done and to have more time for doing what you want to be doing, in a sustainable manner.

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