The Perfect Work/Life Balance: Reclaiming Your Personal Life

The Perfect Work/Life Balance: Reclaiming Your Personal Life

Reclaim your personal lifeLove can be hard to find – and hard to make time for.

If you’re working all hours, or spending your free time worrying about deadlines, you’re unlikely to be in the right headspace to prioritise the search for a partner. More of us are trying to carve out more time for a personal life away from the office. A 2015 Hiring Report by Hudson’s NZ found work/life balance rather than high salaries was the prime motivator for Kiwi jobseekers.

Finding the right work/life balance is about setting limits and looking after yourself. Consider these ideas for striking a better work/life balance

  1. Research your workplace’s view on work/life balance

Before you accept a job offer, do some groundwork to discover whether your organisation’s view on the balance between work and a personal life is the same as your own. Don’t take its HR claims at face value – talk to current or previous employees to find out how much of your free time will really be free.

  1. Use work/life balance as a bargaining chip

With salaries stubbornly slow to rise in recent years, workers are increasingly asking for work/life balance concessions when they know they’re not going to be able to get any extra pay. You might choose to negotiate for flexible hours, working from home some days a week, or having one Friday off per fortnight.

  1. Remember Hofstadter’s law

Hofstadter’s law states that any work you’re trying to finish will always take longer than expected – even when Hofstadter’s law is taken into account. So even if you plan for your task to take longer than you expect, it will overrun your new estimated finish time.

The truth is that we always underestimate how long things take, which is one of the reasons why some tasks seem to take forever to be crossed off our to-do lists.

The solution? Ask yourself how long similar tasks took before, and – even if it seems insanely long – assume the latest task will take the same amount of time.

  1. Cut yourself some slack

When you can’t manage your workload, you start obsessing over your lack of time – stacking multiple tasks on top of each other, worrying about deadlines on your days off, and losing any sense of control over your working life.

Economist Sendhil Mullainathan and and psychologist Eldar Sharif argue that building some slack into your schedule is the best way to cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed by your workload.

Productivity expert Laura Vanderkam suggests leaving Fridays completely open or avoiding scheduling anything from 2pm to 3.30pm on three days a week. Having that slack in your schedule, Laura argues, means you can cope with unexpected problems or deadlines, and are more likely to make calmer decisions.

  1. Don’t be a slave to your inbox

Avoid being trapped in a cycle of constantly generating and replying to emails while your work piles up around you.

When you arrive at work in the morning, do your most important task first rather than immediately checking your emails. If you read your emails before doing anything else, you’re focusing on other people’s priorities rather than your own.

Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, suggests training your colleagues to expect you to answer their emails within 24 or 48 hours, rather than two.

The secret, he says, is to cultivate a reputation for reliability rather than availability.



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