Australians work some of the longest hours in the developing world, and as a result, experience poor health and wellbeing.

Is this you?

In 2015, nearly half of all full time workers reported feeling overworked, with unpaid overtime a common occurrence.

In 2016, about 50% of workers failed to take their annual leave, accruing 128 million days in annual leave, or more than 350,000 years of holidays… On average, two weeks of paid holiday leave were left ‘on the table.’

In 2020, the world experienced a global pandemic and with strict measures in place to help stop and slow the spread of COVID-19, most people started to work from home and many continued to do so in 2021…

With Australians already feeling overworked and overwhelmed with the current state of affairs, their physical and mental health has been affected; so too their relationships with loved ones.

Close to 7 in 10 workers revealed that their work hours affect their ability to spend time with their family or care for them; it cuts into their time where they could be spending on preparing healthy meals, visiting friends, exercising and more. It is estimated that this statistic would be a lot higher during the pandemic.

As a result of work, one in four workers are also experiencing anxiety, two in five feel it impacts their stress level and one third of workers report that their current role disturbs their sleep.

With increased pressures to perform at work and succeed, and employers expecting and/or not discouraging unpaid work, many Australians do not finish work on time and are currently experiencing poor work-life balance.

Do you finish work on time on most days of the week?

Wednesday 17 November is ‘Go Home on Time Day’.

It was created by The Australia Institute to help employees think about their own work-life balance, and in particular to recognise that life doesn’t need to revolve around work.

Finishing work on time on most days of the week is important for overall wellbeing. It not only provides you with the time to recover, but also helps you start the next day feeling rejuvenated, motivated and more productive.

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for good health and wellbeing. It also helps to reduce stress levels as well as improve relationships with loved ones.

It is possible to integrate work and personal life harmoniously

Want some ideas? The following 10 tips can help:

1. Take responsibility and control: Are you currently able to manage your work and personal life harmoniously? Is work possibly intruding into your personal and home life? If yes, what could you do to change it?

2. Be clear on your goals and values: What do you value most? What is important to you? Where do you find the greatest joy and meaning? How is this represented in your current behaviour? If you value family time, how much time are you spending with your family after work?

3. Engage in a positive morning routine: What’s the first thing you do when you first rise? Exercise? Write in a personal journal? Meditate? Walk your dog? A positive start to the day helps set the tone for the rest of your day. What will you choose to do differently so your day starts on a positive note?

4. Schedule some down time: What do you do to relax? What do you like doing in your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests? What are you passionate about? What could you do to schedule some down time into your day, and how will you spend it?

5. Foster relationships: Strong relationships and social networks help build our resilience. How could you strengthen your relationships with the people you care about? How could you create a deeper connection with others? What could you do today to foster the relationships with the people who mean the most to you?

6. Prioritise your health: What’s your health like at the moment? Are you eating well? What’s your sleep like? How often do you move your body? Do you drink enough water? When our health is in order, we are better able to tackle life’s challenges, both personally and professionally.

7. Manage and organise your time: How do you spend your day? Is it productive or often wasted on unnecessary tasks? How much time do you spend on social media and could that be better spent with your family or doing what you love? What could you do differently today?

8. Set boundaries: Does your work life interfere with your personal one? For example, do you continue to work late into the night? Do you check and respond to emails after hours? Could you turn off all beeps and notifications? How could you set some boundaries to separate these two important aspects of your life?

9. Manage stress effectively: How do you manage stress? Is it productive such as debriefing with a friend, going for a walk, taking a few deep breaths or possibly unproductive, such as drinking, smoking or comfort eating… Want some tips to help you better manage your stress? Read our previous article to give you some ideas.

10. Enjoy your work: What is it about your work that you enjoy? Even if the tasks are mundane and boring, how could you make your time when working more uplifting and worthwhile? Think about the bigger picture and the important role that you play…

If you would like further details as to how to integrate your personal and work life harmoniously, our previous posts ‘Work-life balance – can it really be achieved? Part 1’ and ‘Work-life balance – can it really be achieved? Part 2’ provide further information on the strategies highlighted above.

The plan is to always start with small changes and work towards achieving the work-life balance and integration that is right for you.

You can start by making the pledge that on most days this week, you will finish work on time. Want further information? Visit Go Home on Time Day

We hope you enjoyed this post and until next time, wish you all great health and wellbeing, including a healthier work-life balance!

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Go Home on Time Day.

Cameron P & Denniss R (2013). Hard to get a break? Hours, leave and barriers to re-entering the Australian workforce. The Australia Institute and BeyondBlue. Paper No. 13. ISSN 1836-8948.

Johnson M (2015). Workin’ 9 to 5.30. Unpaid overtime and work life balance. Discussion paper. The Australia Institute.

Swann T & Stanford J (2016). Excessive Hours and Unpaid Overtime: An Update. Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute. November 2016 Briefing Paper.