How to achieve a work-life balance in 7 steps

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we’re now working an average of 41.1 hour per week, but of course there are hundreds of thousands of people who are working more, particularly after you add in the housework, chores, school pick up and public transport routines.

According to a recent study called The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI), participation in paid work has been increasing steadily (especially amongst women who are also investing more in their qualifications). It’s official, we are working longer hours than ever before. The study also says that, “this participation includes many (over a quarter of full-timers) who are working 48 hours or more a week.”

And we’re also doing lots of work in the home. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) survey has been running since 2001 and has recently found that “in households where men are the main breadwinners, they do only 14.5 hours of housework a week compared to 27.6 hours by the woman in that household.”

The study points out, “While that might seem fair, when we look at households where women are the main breadwinner, the imbalance is revealed.” In those households men do around 17.5 hours a week of housework, but women do 21.5hours. So, the importance of work-life balance has never been so essential. Here are 7 ways you might be able to better achieve that balance.

Have a routine

Go to bed at the same time and set your alarm clock as part of a routine. Having consistency in your day-to-day activities can assist you with getting everything into your day that you have to. “Cataloguing what I need to get done and making it into a routine freed up the time I spent agonising,” explains Elizabeth Larkin, Personal Organising Expert. “Eventually it also made things I don’t like to do a lot easier because getting them done quickly and routinely became a habit.”

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Learn to be organised

A simple trick used by many people who manage to secure a sound work-life balance is to focus on getting (and staying) organised. Everything should have its place and then when you’re getting ready in the morning, or when you’re looking for an important file or document, you’ll know where everything is.

Delegate tasks where you can

Even if you’re a control freak, learn to let go of the reigns a bit and enjoy the extra time in your day. Could your twelve-year-old pack his own sports bag? Could your teens iron their own uniforms? Could the office assistant help you with that big project to help free up some of your time? Investigate all the options open to you. Often when people are asked to help, they jump at the chance!

Don’t devote too much time to the office

Or whatever location you choose to work. Make sure you do your job effectively, efficiently and honestly, but don’t fall into the trap of getting in at a ridiculous time, or leaving late every night of the week. Achieving work-life balance is easier with a bit of discipline. You must learn to put yourself and your family first.

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Don’t get bogged down in useless tasks

We all fall into this trap sometimes. Are there tasks in your day that you’re doing routinely that really serve no purpose? Think where you have become too  “locked” into a particular way of doing things and see if you can find a shortcut. Would serving canned vegetable soup to your kids be so much worse than making it from scratch? Could you download a PowerPoint template to help you with your presentation tomorrow? There are many “time hacks” available to you if you use your imagination.

Take time out

Studies have shown that you get more done if you are able to stay stress-free and focused. “Learn to know when you need a break. Clues are often other people mentioning that you seem tired or upset,” explains WikiHow. “You may notice that you have lost your temper quite a lot recently or that you have ‘not been with it’ today.” Taking time out can be a great way to restore the work-life balance.

It’s OK to say no every now and then

How often do you say ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’? Learning to say no can be one of the most valuable expressional tools in both your working and home life. You don’t have to take on every single task that is thrown at you, nor should you. A true leader and work-life balance expert knows their limitations and available bandwidth, and sticks to them.

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