By Marc Belaiche, CPA, CA & Joseph Thomas
The 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, a survey of over 25,000 employees from public, private and not-for-profit organizations, found that nearly two-thirds of Canadians work more than 45 hours a week. The study also found that the level of life satisfaction among working Canadians is a mere 23 percent. These figures indicate that employees could find more efficient ways to handle their work and hopefully make a more positive impact on their personal lives. This article aims to look at several effective ways to better maintain life and work balance.
Get serious about prioritizing
Employees sometimes get so caught up in day-to-day tasks that they often overlook something as simple as prioritizing their work. Taking a little time to examine, quantify and prioritize one’s workload for the day or week ahead is critical.
Once an employee has prioritized their workload, it becomes easier to evaluate the amount of new work they are able to take on. This puts them in a position to demonstrate that they have a lot on their plate and are unable to take on new tasks.
Employees should try and spend at least one day each week with family or closest friends. Depending on the type of work they do, this may not be possible on the weekend, so a little advanced planning might be needed in such cases.
Give yourself a break
Take a few minutes between meetings or work assignments to step away from your desk. Going for a short stroll, grabbing a cup of coffee or making a quick call to a loved one could be the perfect pick-me-up.
Delegate or outsource
Employees are sometimes guilty of taking on more than they can accomplish in a given period. They may have also inadvertently taken on tasks that they are not directly responsible for. It would be prudent to re-evaluate one’s workload and to try and delegate or outsource some of that extra work.
Make time for yourself
It is always beneficial to make a little personal time before or after work each day. Some professionals hit the gym first thing in the morning to energize themselves for the rest of the day. Others go for a walk with a family member or take their dog for a walk as a means to unwind from the stresses of the work day. Regardless of the activity, taking some personal time is important.
Try not to overbook your calendar
Committing to meetings and back-to-back projects every single day could wear a person down. Some strategies to avoid this situation might be to set up meetings only in the mornings/afternoons or try not to schedule any meetings on one day of the week. This will allow time to regroup and refocus on the other tasks at hand.
Book a vacation
It is important to enjoy some vacation time at least once a year; spend a couple of weeks away from the office, totally unplugged from work commitments. Another popular way to use vacation is to break it up into week-long segments every 4 to 6 months. Even a short getaway can be an effective way to re-energize oneself.
Work from home
If the parameters of one’s job permits, try and work from home one day a week. Avoiding the commute to work saves time and possibly a bit of stress. It keeps employees close to their family and is an effective way to balance work and personal life.
Similar to working from home, doing flexible hours is a great way for employees to tend to personal commitments. This is especially beneficial when both parents in a family have full-time jobs. Here’s a simple example: one parent could push working hours back by an hour or two in order to get children ready for school while the other parent starts work earlier so that they are home to take care of the kids in the afternoon.
Talk to your manager
Employees that are overworked should connect with their managers from time to time. Keeping them in the loop on current workloads and challenges is a good way to express their concerns and keep the channels of communication open. Key employees may be fearful of losing their jobs by doing this, but the risk of performing poorly – due to overwork – could have repercussions that are equally bad.
Reconnect on the weekend
In addition to connecting with family, employees should try and call up a couple of friends each weekend. It is good to maintain healthy personal relationships and keep in contact with one’s network of friends.
By using a few of the strategies discussed here, employees should be able to get a bit more control over their current situation. And with a little perseverance, it is definitely possible for today’s professionals to effectively maintain a healthier work/life balance.
Marc Belaiche, CPA, CA is President of TorontoJobs.ca, an Internet recruitment business and recruiting firm located in the Greater Toronto Area in Canada. Marc has been in the recruitment industry since 1995. TorontoJobs.ca allows companies to post their positions online, search a resume database to find candidates, provides outplacement services and full temporary and permanent recruitment services. TorontoJobs.ca also allows candidates to search and apply to positions directly online and get career, interviewing and resume tips all at no charge. Marc is also President of TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca, an organization geared towards business owners (see www.TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca) and has the annual Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference (see www.TorontoEntrepreneurs.ca/conference). You can reach Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out TorontoJobs.ca at www.TorontoJobs.ca.