Many of us are 'time poor', constantly rushing to juggle different commitments. Australia has fallen behind the rest of the developed world in trying to achieve a healthy balance between work and life outside work.
A good work-life balance means you have harmony between different aspects of your life, where benefits gained from each area can support and strengthen the others. Work-life integration is a new concept, where many people are learning to blend their work and personal lives successfully.
Who is most affected? Australians work some of the longest hours of anyone in developed countries, and we spend less time looking after ourselves outside work. Working long hours can be bad for your health, increase stress and give you less time to spend on other activities like personal care or leisure.
Tips to achieve work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance allows time for work and all the other aspects of your life. Here's 8 tips to help you achieve a balanced life.
1. Know your values: Spend some time thinking about what is important to you in life. How much time do you actually spend on the most important priorities? Consider your passions and interests and make time for the things that make you feel alive.
2. Time management: Diaries, calendars, apps and to-do lists are all useful strategies. Keep track of where the time goes, and cut down on unnecessary time wastage. Shop online, reduce commuting time or avoid non-essential meetings.
3. Boundaries: Set limits on your work time and set time aside for other aspects of life. Switch off the phone, limit your access to work emails, go internet-free for a while. Learn to say no.
4. Enjoy your work: ‘Do what you love, love what you do’ has become a popular catch-phrase. While all work can be tedious or stressful at times, if you really hate your job or if it is making your life impossible, consider changing jobs or even careers.
5. Relationships: Positive relationships and social support have been identified as building resilience to cope with stress, but these take time to nurture and develop. Prioritise time with your family and loved ones.
6. Health: Regular exercise has proven benefits for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Get enough sleep at regular times, eat healthy food, drink in moderation and avoid illegal drugs.
7. Down time: Sometimes, rest periods are important to recharge the batteries. Schedule a regular time for yourself each week, read a book, do nothing, go shopping or do an activity you enjoy.