People who achieve a good work life balance tend to be happier both in their work and home life. From the moment we leave education and start work the emphasis is usually on working as hard as possible, putting in long hours to impress managers and to take home more pay. This is all very well when we are young and have few responsibilities beyond work; however, in time most people settle down and start a family. It is only when children arrive that many people start to question their lifestyle and seek ways to spend more time with their family and less time in the office or other workplace.
Children grow up fast, too fast. If you do not make plans to spend quality time with your children you will miss out on their growth and development. There is no going back once the moment has gone. This is especially true for fathers who, on average, spend much less time with their children than their mother does. For example, many people leave the house to commute to work before their children are up in the morning, and by the time they return home both they and their children are tired. It is very hard to have quality time with children when everybody is tired and often stressed. This means that many individuals, men especially, become “weekend parents”. They work all week and only spend quality time with their children at the weekend.
Of course, the reason to develop a better work life balance is not just to have more quality time with your children, but also more time with your partner, extended family, and friends and also time to pursue your own interests and hobbies. The big question for many people is; how can it be achieved?
First, you have to really want a better work-life balance before you take steps to change. It will invariably mean working shorter hours and this never impresses managers at first.
One approach that may be more welcomed at work is to suggest flexible working hours for parents. Rather than doing fewer hours each week you work some longer days so that you can leave earlier on other days. For example, if you work an extra hour on the first three days a week you should be able to leave an hour and a half earlier on Thursday and Friday. An alternative is to suggest working earlier to leave earlier. A 7.30am start could allow you to leave at 3.30pm, allowing the family to have dinner together.
If you are self-employed, managing a work-life balance can often be harder, rather than easier. Many people who are self-employed feel as if they are working all the time and in the modern digital age it is always very tempting to quickly turn on a computer to check the emails or run a report. This never seems to take much time, but the family do notice. It is therefore important that if you are self-employed, you set yourself some strict work boundaries. It is often better to stop work early to spend time with the family in the late afternoon and have dinner together, even if that means doing a couple more hours work in the evening.
The UK site of Francesco Corallo shares some advice on how to implement changes to improve the work-life balance. Francesco Corallo finds that an early morning exercise routine helps to prepare him for the rest of the day. This is a great way to get your gym workout completed before the stress of work overtakes you. You not only enjoy your exercise more, but also start the day relaxed and fresh.
However, often the only solution is to do fewer hours each week. If your partner is also working you can share the workload so that both can spend more time with family. Often one parent takes on the full burden of the work while the other spends most time at home. Some families manage well with both parents working part-time.
The secret to developing a good work-life is to know what you want out of life and then to find solutions. Consider overwork to be a problem that requires a solution. Expect to make some sacrifices, but also try to turn it into a positive change by encouraging others to follow in your footsteps.