The balance between our work lives and our personal lives has been even more challenging of late. Around 68% of working Australians have experienced a change in their employment situation in the past 12 months, with the most common change being working from home.i
For those whose workplace was on the kitchen bench or make shift home office, switching out of work mode at the end of the day was often difficult. While the modern day office has evolved providing more flexibility in working hours and arrangements, technology and the pressure to always be ‘on’ has meant the line between work and home has blurred. Responding to calls and emails is now common well into the evening and on weekends.
The stats reinforce this with a report from the Centre for Future Work: Excessive Hours and Unpaid Overtime showing, on average, we’re now completing an extra four to five hours of unpaid work every week.ii So how can we ensure that our work lives are not at the expense of our personal lives?
What does your ideal life look like?
The first step is working out what you want the ‘life’ part to look like. Everyone’s values, commitments and drivers are different.
You might want to spend time looking after an elderly relative, keeping an eye on kids or grandkids, or volunteering in your community. You may want to broaden your horizons by going back to study, or take up a new hobby. It could even be as simple as having enough hours in the day to shop for produce and cook a delicious meal from scratch. The important thing is to formulate your own vision.
Once you’ve worked out what you want, beyond just ‘more work/life balance’, it’s time to turn those wants in to goals, and those goals in to plans. Then you’ll need to make changes on the work side of your balance so you can achieve your goals. Start by realistically assessing where you can be more efficient with your work and where you’ll need to cut back.
Finding more time for the good things in life
Trying to cut down your hours? It might be a matter of working smarter, instead of just stacking on the hours. Try implementing one simple time management initiative at a time. Start by creating a to-do list at the start of each day/ week, look into some project management tools to keep you on track and delegate where possible.
Feel like you’re at work even when you’re not in the office? Time to start setting some limits. Manage the expectations of your team and clients, and minimise taking calls and responding to emails out of hours.
Don’t hoard your annual leave and save it up for one huge holiday every year. Take time off throughout the year; you’ll feel better in the long run.
It doesn’t hurt to enquire about flexibility. Even if flexi-hours aren’t a standard policy where you work, you have the legal right to at least ask your employer.
Working for yourself? It’s all too easy to pour all your (non-sleeping) time in to your business, but try setting boundaries so that you’re not working 24/7. Making the aforementioned to-do list will help you feel better about stopping work for the day, when the only things left to do are less urgent tasks.
Things to consider
There’s a strong likelihood that your new work/life balance goal may throw up a few financial challenges. If you’re reducing your overall working hours, you’ll have less in your paycheque. Depending on your life stage, coping with this may mean getting smart with your household budget, developing a new income stream, or transitioning to retirement.
If you’re running your own business (or thinking about striking out on your own), the game changes altogether. You may have much more or much less flexibility to alter your working hours outside the 9-5, take on staff to cover your responsibilities, or work remotely.
Seeing our clients achieving their lifestyle goals is what gets us out of bed in the morning. If you’re ready to make some changes, and need some assistance in regards to your finances, make an appointment with us today.
Stuart Fitzpatrick and Excel Financial Advisors Pty Ltd are authorised representatives of Interprac Financial Planning Pty Ltd AFSL 246638 registered office at Level 8, 525 Finders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. This advice may not be suitable to you because it contains general advice that has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal financial advice prior to acting on this information. Investment Performance: Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns as future returns may differ from and be more or less volatile than past returns.