Studies indicate that Australian employees strive for work-life balance, but many struggle to achieve it. In a recent survey by Universum, students rated work-life balance as their top career goal.
However, a survey of 34 countries released by the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that Australians are not balancing life and work as well as other nations. According to OECD’s '2014 Better Life Index', 14 per cent of Australians work very long hours, which is 5 per cent higher than the OECD average.
Australia rates highly in all other life dimensions examined in the report, including governance, housing and personal security. However, in terms of work-life balance, Australia falls within the bottom 20 per cent.
Studies on work-life habits have raised discussion among many experts and organisations. Below are three key strategies for maintaining a good balance between your career and personal life.
Keep Blank Spaces in Your Schedule
Having a schedule is a great way of staying on top of your to-do-list, but filling every conceivable space with work-related tasks can leave you feeling drained.
In a blog post titled ‘The Importance of Scheduling Nothing’, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explained why his calendar consists of grayed-out time slots with no specific events or tasks. Weiner says that scheduling between 90 minutes and two hours of ‘buffer time’ into his routine has increased his overall productivity.
“It's a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.”
By keeping this time open, you can also regain a sense of freedom in an otherwise busy lifestyle and feel that you are in control of your day.
Engage in Stress-Reducing Activities
There are a number of scientifically proven ways to reduce your stress levels and improve your overall sense of well-being in work and life.
Regular Exercise: Numerous studies show that regular exercise reduces anxiety and stress. It is also a great way to clear your mind and reduce your risk of developing health problems, therefore being a great investment for your work and personal life.
Reading: Reading is another great way to relax. Psychologists have found that reading for pleasure can reduce stress levels by up to 68 per cent. Reading a light novel for 10-20 minutes before bed can help you let go of your ongoing to-do-list and improve your sleeping habits.
Following the right Habbits: In contrast to reading, lying awake in front of a TV, smart-phone or lap-top, can stimulate your mind and lead to a disrupted sleep. Adjusting these habits will not only reduce stress, but will leave you feeling more refreshed and energised each day.
No matter how successful you are, your relationships with friends and family will play a significant role in determining your sense of fulfillment.
Whether you enjoy socialising with colleagues outside of work, or prefer to keep your professional and social spheres separate, the important thing is establishing a schedule that allows you to complete work-related tasks while still spending time with friends and relatives.
Schedule time to visit your parents or Skype them if they live far away. Get a group of friends together to see a movie, go to a concert or play a game of golf. If you have your own family, make time for ‘family days’ and dates with your significant other.
Regardless of your interests or the shape of your social and family circles, human interaction is a vital part of a healthy work-life balance.
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