Most Canadians have difficulty finding time for all their roles and responsibilities. In fact, 58% of Canadians report “overload” as a result of the pressures associated with work, home and family, friends, physical health, volunteer and community service.
Some of the signs of work/life imbalance include:
• Feeling overwhelmed, like you’ve lost control of your life
• Feeling guilty that you’re neglecting areas of your life
• Difficulty concentrating
Many feel that there’s nothing they can do to bring their lives back into balance. After all, the demands of the workplace continue to increase, as do the number of hours most Canadians spend at their jobs. According to Human Resources and Social Development Canada, one in four Canadians works 50 hours per week or more, compared to one in ten a decade ago.
But you can make changes happen—significant changes that will make your work more effective and your time with family and friends more enjoyable:
Ask Your Employer for Supportt
Many organizations have policies in place to help employees achieve better work/life balance. Most businesses recognize that workers who are healthier and more balanced are better for the organization’s productivity and long-term success—and that work/life imbalance hurts business.
In fact, according to some estimates, burnout costs Canadian business an estimated $12 billion every year in health claims, lost productivity and absenteeism.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, first try asking your employer for their support.
• Start by determining what you need to achieve work/life balance.
• Research the policies and practices your employer has in place (such as flexible work hours, telecommuting and job sharing.
• Seek out examples in your workplace where these policies have been applied successfully.
• Use an appropriate opportunity to discuss your work arrangements, such as an annual review, a return-to-work after leave or at the beginning or end of a new project.
• Look at the situation from your employer’s point of view; be ready to outline a clear plan, how it will impact the workplace and how that impact will be addressed.
• Even without formally making changes to your working conditions, there are a number of ways you can improve your work/life balance.
• Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day. Your productivity and effectiveness will increase if you take even a ten-minute break every two hours and overall, you will get more accomplished.
• At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available.
• Only respond to email once or twice a day. Then, shut off your email program to avoid being distracted as messages come in.
• Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Protect your private time by turning off electronic communications. Don’t be available 24/7.
• Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early. As soon as you see that a deadline is unrealistic, communicate your concern to your employer—don’t wait until the deadline passes.
• Take all of your allotted vacation time. Taking vacation allows you to come back to work refreshed and more productive.
• Create a buffer between work and home. After work, take a brief walk, do a crossword puzzle or listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine.
• Decide what chores can be shared or let go. Determine which household chores are critical and which can be done by someone else. Let the rest go.
• Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
• Create and implement a household budget. Start by setting aside some money from each paycheque for the future.
• Make healthy food choices. Healthy eating will gives you and your family more energy.
• Pursue a hobby. Either with friends or family or for some quality time on your own.
In Your Community
• Make choices. Social, community and volunteer obligations pull us in many directions. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say ‘no’ to the rest.
• Manage expectations. Be clear at the outset about how much time or support you can contribute to community organizations or your children’s school events.