It is well established that Australians work some of the longest hours in the developing world.

As a result, one in two don’t spend as much time with their family as they would like to.

With increased pressures to perform at work and succeed…

Many Australians are experiencing poor work-life balance

Poor work-life balance not only affects an individual’s physical and mental health, but also their relationships with loved ones, and their overall satisfaction with life.

Also affected are organisations, through:

  • reduced productivity
  • increased presenteeism
  • increased absenteeism
  • high staff turnover
  • increased compensation claims for mental stress

Finding the ‘right’ balance between one’s personal life and work life is important.

With the right balance, productivity improves, and an individual’s participation in family, social and personal activities increases.  Stress is reduced and overall, individuals feel much happier and content with life.

However, the act of balancing different priorities and responsibilities is challenging.

Work is an important part of life

The concept of work-life balance can be a deceptive one as it implies that work and life are opposites. Yet work is an important part of our lives; it forms part of our identity.

Another way of looking at work-life balance is ‘work-life integration’, where harmony is created between the different aspects of life, and blended in successfully. When integrated effectively, each area can support and strengthen the other in a positive way (mindhealthconnect.org.au).

Depending on our circumstances, we may not always have the ‘perfect’ work-life balance. However a healthier balance can be achieved.

So how can we balance our personal and work life?

There are number of ways to integrate work and personal life harmoniously.

It’s important to find strategies that will work for you. These ten tips can help. The first five are highlighted below in this post, with the remaining five highlighted in part 2.

1. Take responsibility and control

Think about your current work-life situation and whether you spend more time at work, with family or alone. Think about the type of life you wish to lead.

The ultimate decision to achieve a better work-life balance is yours. This is about taking personal responsibility, and not blaming the Government, or the organisation you work for, for your current situation.

Identify the issues and make the changes that are needed, and that are right for you.

2. Be clear on your goals and values

Have you thought about what’s important to you? What are your top goals and priorities? For example, do you want to be more connected with your kids, be physically fit, or be a successful manager in the organisation you work for?

Spend some time thinking about what is important to you. How much time do you actually spend on these priorities? If you’re not sure, track your time for one week – you may be surprised with the results.

3. Engage in a positive morning routine

The most defining moment of your day is when you first wake up. You have a choice about how you set the tone for the day. Do you start your day with a blaring alarm clock? Do you start the day feeling energised, or miserable about getting out of bed?

Change your morning routine by taking the first 10 – 30 minutes to spend on yourself. Whether that’s in the form of exercise, some form of meditation, to write in your journal or to do something creative or reflective. This will then set a positive tone for the rest of your day.

4. Schedule some down time

Rest periods are important to recharge the batteries and to inspire creativity and new ideas. Engage in daily activities that do not involve work. This could simply be reading a chapter of your favourite book, going for a walk, picking up the phone to call a friend, going to an art museum, having a massage, playing golf or just being alone.

Not sure what to do? Pursue hobbies and interests that you’re passionate about. Or better yet, why not try something new and different. Whatever you decide to do, make a date with yourself and stick to it. Give yourself permission to take some time out – your home, your work and the community will thank you for it.

5. Foster relationships

Prioritise time with your family and loved ones. People with positive relationships and strong levels of social support have lower levels of stress and higher levels of resilience and overall wellbeing, than those who don’t.

It is our family and friends who often help put work issues into perspective, and can regularly remind us that it’s okay to take some time out.

Interested in the remaining 5 tips?

They will be shared in next week’s post.

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing and of course, a healthy work-life balance.

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The information and inspiration for this post was sourced from various agencies including mindhealthconnect.org.au, World Health Organization, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Safe Work Australia, The Australia Institute, The Australian Psychological Society, Marsh 2012, Skinner et al 2012, Denham 2013 and Schulte 2014.