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Is Work/Life Balance a Myth?

By Sonya Buck, Australia


So much is said about Work/Life balance.


As you know, work/life balance involves managing the priorities between work and life commitments, such as your career, business, family and friends and leisure time.


Is work/balance really achievable when we consider factors such as technology, which ensures we are contactable 24/7 and we may feel our job security may rely on working unpaid overtime?


Certainly working in the Agricultural sector the work involved does not necessarily allow anyone to clock on and off at 9am and 5pm.  Even in non-farm settings, Agricultural support service workers may be required to travel long distances and stay away from home on a regular basis.


We may need to consider that work/life balance is more achievable at different career and life stages, but importantly you must consider your priorities for your health and happiness whatever stage you find yourself.


When starting out in your career you may be single and free to work hours over and above what is required in order to progress.  This gets less desirable when you have children and a family and at this time you’ll have more than one person to consider.


Sadly working in a previous workplace, I have spoken to colleagues who expressed that they missed their children’s childhoods through their work commitments. Quite a dramatic and tragic statement, but a real wake up call to encourage work/life balance.


Being at a later stage in your career may afford you more balance in your life, as you may not be having to struggle to repay an enormous mortgage or be striving to progress on the career ladder.


One good reason for considering improving your work/life balance may be loyalty.


The Builders, born between 1927 and 1945 (my parents) may have worked for one company for 30 years or even a lifetime and may have felt a sense of duty to one employer. As you know it’s now not such a bad thing to change and progress your career by changing employers, but loyalty on both sides may not exist to the extent of earlier times. Something to keep in mind when you don’t make it home until after 9pm.


Consider two words – BURN OUT!  It happens so often and you may not be able to work at all if this happens. Another great reason to consider addressing work/life balance.


Anyway, no need to preach to the converted!  If you have decided to address work/life balance, there may be some issues to consider.


What is the culture in your current workplace?  Do they support work/life balance?  If not, it will be difficult to achieve and you may need to move on.  You’ll get some insight into this through observing the practices of your boss (in particular) and other colleagues.


Identify the areas of your life that you would like to spend more time focusing on and take small steps towards addressing these areas.  It may take a little time to fully achieve these changes.


Don’t get on the working back bandwagon unless something is absolutely urgent.


If you are offered time in lieu or paid time for working outside of work hours, take time in lieu and enjoy the leisure time you have already given away.


Ensure you make those school assembly presentations and important events for your family, even if you need to work back on that day to make it happen.


Don’t feel you need to come in to work when you are sick.  Besides spreading your infection, you need to recover to ensure you can work at full pace when you return.


Schedule leisure time with your family and friends, just like you would for your appointments at work.


Budget permitting, book a holiday or even a long weekend. Remember if you accrue too much annual leave, many workplaces can dictate when you take it.


Maybe assess your priorities.  See Tree Change Could Equal Career Change


Richard Branson, successful entrepreneur and businessman with over 50 year's experience says


“We are human beings not human doings – so let’s start acting like it. Take the time to appreciate the fruits of life. At the end of the day, life is for living; and living is about health and happiness”