Careers

Your work/life balance action plan

Sep 01, 2016
The happiest people in the world are busy but don’t feel rushed, according to author Daniel Pink. Introduce balance to your life in five simple steps.

Striking a sustainable work/life balance in today’s ‘always on’ environment isn’t easy. While you will be keen to make a good impression on your colleagues and superiors, it’s important to embrace the ‘off’ button too.

Work/life balance is different for each individual, and will alter as you go through life’s many stages. Whether you’re a trainee or FCA, the following tips will help you establish a routine that allows you to excel at work while investing in the people and experiences that are important to you.

1. Technology

Technology is a great servant, but a terrible master. It will absorb vital hours each week and sabotage your sleeping habits unless you set clear boundaries, particularly for social media. And when you’re not in the office or on annual leave, use the time to unwind. Avoid ‘checking in’ or reading emails and instead, give your brain a chance to rest and recuperate.

2. Prioritise

A key life skill is the ability to differentiate between the urgent and important, and act accordingly. Know how to add value for your employer and also, know what’s important for you personally. Make deliberate choices in life and ring-fence that personal time – be it for family activities or your favourite sport.

3. Control

A loss of control can lead to anxiety, so be clear on what’s required and what’s possible. If there’s an expectation gap, talk to your superior. While everyone must work through busy periods, the idea that you will get everything ‘done’ if you work long and hard enough is a myth. Pace yourself, work hard, and know when it’s time to clock off.

4. Play to your strengths

Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant and author, advised individuals to understand what only they can do well and step up to the plate in those areas. The rest, he said, should be delegated, outsourced or neglected. While it might not be wise for a trainee to neglect a task, it’s important to let your colleagues know where you can add the most value and expertise. You will enjoy your work more and your productivity will rise accordingly.

5. Reward yourself

Some people strive to achieve every day. While ambition is a laudible trait, it’s important to reward yourself for your hard work and take time off when it’s due. The training contract is a demanding programme but developing a single calendar for work, study and family will help you achieve a degree of balance between all three.

Conclusion

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means but to get to the root of your ideal work/life balance, list everything that competes for your time. When complete, decide with ruthless vigour what to keep and what to discard. You don’t necessarily need to work more to get things done, or less to have a better work/life balance. The real key is taking control of how you use the time available to you.