Work-life balance for four out of every ten working Australians is actually getting worse, according to a report by The Australian Institute Think Tank in November of last year. The study also found Australians are donating $110 billion in free labour each year by giving extra time to work without being paid. This means the average full-time worker is doing six hours of unpaid overtime each week – worth an estimated $9471 a year.
The reason for the increasing work/life balance imbalance, is work insecurity and pressure from bosses, says Director of Research David Baker. Fear about job security is described as widespread.
“For many Australian workers rocking the boat appears to be a genuine concern,” Mr Baker says. “If seeking better balance is perceived to be a threat to career prospects people are unlikely to freely raise the issue with their boss.”
On top of that, technology means we are constantly available, so it can be difficult to switch off. So is the elusive work-life balance possible?
Work life balance – what is it actually?
Firstly, it helps to actually define what work-life balance is. It’s an often talked-about concept but in reality how that looks is very personal.
Jim Bird who works at WorkLifeBalance.com, a company that offers high performance, enterprise-wide work-life balance solutions and time management programs, says that what it’s not, is trying to schedule equal hours between your work and personal life.
There’s no perfect, one-size fits all solution but rather, that the best individual life work balance will vary over time and often on a daily basis, Mr Bird says.
Why it’s important
It is common knowledge that overwork over time equals burn out, ill health, lack of productivity and motivation. Balance brings out the best of us in both our work and personal lives. It’s essentially about having a balance of achievement and enjoyment.
“Achievement and enjoyment are the front and back of the coin of value in life. You can’t have one without the other. Trying to live a one sided life is why so many ‘successful’ people are not happy, or not nearly as happy as they should be,” Mr Bird says.
“You cannot get the full value from life without both achievement and enjoyment. Focusing on achievement and enjoyment every day in life helps you avoid the ‘As Soon As Trap’, the life dulling habit of planning on getting around to the joys of life and accomplishment ‘as soon as….’”
5 tips to achieving greater balance
• Make time every day for things that make you feel good, like exercise.
• Limit time wasting activities and people.
• Unplug from technology for set periods of the day.
• Be prepared to change and let some things go to create space.
• Take small steps – balance takes time to get right.