How does work fit in with your life?
Find out how to balance your work with your family, friends, hobbies and life.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance is about having the right amount of time for work and for your lifestyle.
If you have work-life balance you feel that you have enough time for your work and career as well as for your family, wellbeing, community life and interests.
How do you know if your work-life balance isn't right?
Getting the right mix of work to other activities in your life can be a challenge. Have a look at the list below and think about your own situation. Are you:
- working long hours?
- working at night and sleeping most of the day?
- not getting enough leisure time?
- not spending enough time with the people who are important to you?
- eating badly, not exercising, not sleeping and not having quiet time?
- taking your laptop or work cellphone to bed with you?
- taking work with you on holiday?
If you answered yes to most of the questions above, you may be overworked or trying to juggle too many things. Take time to reflect on what small things you can do to create more balance in your life.
Why is work-life balance important?
When you have work-life balance, you're more likely to have better health, enjoy better relationships and do things that make you happy.
Without work-life balance you are in danger of working too hard and suffering from stress and bad health as well as neglecting your relationships and community life.
I used to find it hard not to take stuff home and this was because I found it hard to start things and then not finish them. Now if I don’t finish things, I just don’t finish them. My baby is more important than my job, but my job is key for our survival. So it’s a vital balance to strike.
How will you know when you've a good balance?
Generally, you know you have a good work-life balance when you:
- have a sense of control in your work and life
- have a strong sense of achievement from work and life
- gain enjoyment from everyday life.
What can you do if work is taking over too much of your time?
If you recognise that something is wrong – don’t ignore it! It won’t go away. Check out the tips below.
Can you manage your time better? Cut out time wasters and make use of technology such as apps to help you plan your day.
Ask for help
You will have more time for things you enjoy if you ask for help. Ask at home for help with chores, ask at work for help with some of your tasks or with childminding.
Consider different ways of working
You may like to work from home sometimes or change your hours, work part time, job share or change jobs altogether.
Look after yourself
Looking after yourself could be:
- booking in time to exercise or take breaks at work
- learning ways to recognise and manage your stress
- having breaks from your smart phone and social media
- saying "no" to others to protect your free time
Talk to your employer
Approach your employer if you think you are not getting enough breaks or your hours are too long. When you talk to them it's a good idea to:
- describe the health and safety risks of working long hours
- have a plan or solution that will work for you both.
How employers can help
Helping workers find the right work-life balance can be a win-win situation for employers and their workers.
Employers can help their workers achieve better work-life balance by letting them:
- have access to a phone and/or phone messages
- have minor variations in start and finish times
- choose their own lunch break
- use sick or domestic leave to look after family members
- choose, have input into, or change rosters or shifts
- have extra unpaid leave, or be able to negotiate extra annual leave
- choose how many hours they work (such as part-time hours)
- have access to a shower (for use after lunchtime sport or the gym)
- regularly or occasionally work from home.
New research shows New Zealand employers are genuinely trying to provide their staff with flexibility at work. The Department of Labour study, ‘Work-Life Balance in New Zealand’, demonstrates that employers are viewing work-life balance as an increasingly important business issue.
Former CEO, Business NZ
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Updated 2 Nov 2016