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How 5 Different Workers Found Work Life Balance

Although it may feel like you’ve been searching for it forever, the concept of work life balance itself is relatively new.

According to Business consultant Bernard Salt, work life balance emerged in the ‘90s “as the tech boom gained momentum [and] people started to talk about how many hours they were working.” Then came smartphones and with them, a new work ethic wherein 24/7 access to technology and email slowly blurred the lines between work and play.

Since then, the quest to find a middle ground when it comes to balancing the demands of our personal and working lives is something that 81% of Australian workers struggle with, and yet it’s one of the most sought after job perks around. According to a Randstad World of Work report, work life balance is the reason why 26% of employees intend to stay with their employer for at least the next 12 months.

While an employer can facilitate ways to assist in achieving work life balance, ultimately it means something completely different for everyone.

You’ll no doubt have your own way of finding the right balance, but if you need a little inspiration, here’s how 5 very different people in our office found theirs.

1. The Techie

James Fares - IT Support Specialist

Techie by day, gamer by night and father all around, James is no stranger to trying to find a middle ground between work and play. As a technician, gamer, muso and father, he finds himself constantly juggling his many passions in life.

“Between my team and my family, I like to make everybody happy, including myself. Having work life balance to me means the ability to be a good father and a good technician, and always being present at work and at home.”

What breaks the balance

Although he tries not to let anything disrupt the balance he’s achieved over years of hard work, compulsory sleep sometimes gets in the way.

“If I didn’t have to sleep, I’d get a lot more done! I make sure I get enough each night to function my best the next day, but sometimes I’ll stay up late to play video games and practice music. I’m very conscious of keeping myself happy so I’ll gladly trade a few hours of sleeping for something I love and need to do.”

How he found his middle ground

For James, finding life balance is all about focusing on your passions.

“Passion is the main drive. You’ll never find balance for something you don’t like doing, but if you love it, you’ll work for it. Something that’s really helped me is wearing my headphones all day long. When I’m not using them as a headset for work, I’m listening to podcasts so I’m constantly being fed information that I enjoy. They also signal to others that I’m busy, which stops them from interrupting me unless absolutely necessary. As a result of blocking out those distractions, I end up getting some valuable time back in my day, which means I can leave work a little earlier than usual to go for a bike ride, and still get home in time for the family routine.”

James’ top tip

“Find something that makes you happy and do that at least 10 minutes each day. For me, even if I only get the chance to turn on my Playstation or my synthesiser and watch them start up, at least I’ve had a few minutes doing what I love and I’ve been able to let go of the day’s stress. I also find spending time with a friend outside of my family circle is a great way to completely disconnect from everything and restore that work life balance.”

2. The Working Mum

Kerry Lowe - Communications Specialist

If you’re anything like Kerry, finding the time to look after yourself is nearly impossible, let alone find that peaceful state of work life balance. Between a full time job and all the different hats that come with being a mum (chef, personal shopper, taxi driver, cleaner, counsellor, teacher) it’s only natural to wonder if work life balance is ever within reach.

What breaks the balance

So many things on the go coupled with the expense of everyday life often leaves Kerry looking for ways to save time and money. Unfortunately, this sometimes means cutting out a lot of “me-time” like regular doctor’s check ups, workouts and hobbies.

How she found her middle ground

Realising that the days wouldn’t get any longer, Kerry chose to make the most of her working hours.

“I started adding exercise classes, appointments and hobbies into my lunch breaks and participating in work events like photography clubs, fitness classes and nutrition sessions. I also finally stopped making excuses and took myself to the doctors for a much needed skin checkup which resulted in being diagnosed with skin cancer. Three days from the initial skin check, which was a company initiative, I had surgery to remove it. So I can honestly say that finding work life balance has saved my life.”

Kerry’s main tip

“Encourage your business to create interest-based clubs so you can enjoy your hobbies at work. This will not only help boost team morale, but it’ll give you energy and motivation that will carry on into the rest of your working day.”

3. The Commuter

Teale Shapcott -  IT Manager

With a full-time job, a weekend gig, a teenaged boy and a partner on shift work, Teale has to work hard at balancing each area of her life.

“My life revolves around being a mum, an IT manager, an obedience instructor and making sure I fit my 20 km of cycling in somewhere. Driving to and from work takes about 2 hours out of my day so I have to be extra diligent with my time.”

What breaks the balance

As any commuter can attest to, the extra hours driving to and from work can make the days seem even shorter. To combat this, Teale ensure she’s up extra early.

“Getting up late is my biggest barrier to work life balance. I have to get up at about 4:30 am so I can train the dogs, get ready for the day and make sure my son gets to school on time. If I miss that early window of opportunity, the balance is disrupted.”

How she found her middle ground

After trying for years to find the elusive life balance everyone’s after, Teale finally found her golden ticket.

“About 18 months ago, I decided I really wanted a life where I could be a good mom who was fit, healthy and working in a challenging industry. I read two audible books; Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Habits Create What You Need to Succeed in Life by Brian Oliver. They made me realise that the key to a great balance was changing my habits.

I started using my 2 hours travel time each day as an opportunity to listen to podcasts and keep abreast of things going on in my industry. I also got into the habit of stepping out at 4:30 each afternoon to ride my bike around the lake. It’s a great way to wind down for the day before heading home.”

Teale’s top tip

“Life balance is all about building habits. Without this, it’s so easy for everything to fall apart. Create a vision and a schedule and stick to it!”

4. The Small Business Owner

Mick Carey - Software Developer

After many years of hard work starting up his own web-design business, by now work life balance just comes easy to Mick, who is also a part-time student and full-time Software Developer.

“As a business owner, you are immediately conscious that your work can easily consume you. Paving a way for a balanced future early on is your best shot at achieving work life balance for the long haul, and enjoying what it is you’ve built.”

What breaks his balance

With work, his business, friends and study all demanding Mick’s attention, his biggest barrier to life balance right now is time.

“Sometimes it’s hard to ensure I’m committing enough of myself to my family, friends and hobbies but I always make sure I set aside time for each of them. Many years ago, I’d say my biggest roadblock was working ridiculous hours. It taught me very quickly how to be efficient and how to streamline things so that I wouldn’t have to keep going at that rate.”

How he found his middle ground

After being without it for many years, Mick quickly put some processes in place to ensure work life balance would be achievable and maintainable in his future.

“Giving everything its own schedule and time allocation has made it much easier for me to manage all of my demands. I usually reserve my nights for my business, weekends for study and lunch breaks for exercise. It also helps that I love trying new things, as this acts as a great distraction when I need to wind down.”

Mick’s number one tip

“Get some processes in place. These will make those chaotic days go so much smoother, and eventually you’ll get time back in your day to do the things you enjoy.”

5. The Student

Julia Carter - Content Marketing Specialist

Working and studying full-time is commonplace these days, but it still requires a delicate balance.

“With both areas taking up almost equal amounts of my time, work life balance is absolutely critical for me. If I didn’t have it, I’d be incapable of doing either.”

What breaks her balance

With strict deadlines on both ends, there’s not much room for error or wasted time in Julia’s schedule.

“Though I have a strong schedule in place to fulfil both work and study demands, things always come up. Sometimes all it takes is one curveball to throw everything out of order and to put me behind a few days.”

How she found her middle ground

Being a morning person, Julia’s found a way to turn early hours into the most productive part of her day.

“It can be difficult for me to switch between work and study mode, so I make sure to keep the two separate. I wake up super early and study for a few hours. This puts me in a positive and creative mindset that helps me stay productive and energised throughout the entire working day. At night I make sure to unwind by watching some TV. This helps me empty my head before bed so I wake up with a fresh mind to start all over again.”

Her number one tip

“Never underestimate the power of prioritisation. There will always be something that’s more important, more urgent and more timely. Put that thing first. You’ll save so much time and so much unnecessary stress in the long run.”

Looking for a workplace that can help you find work life balance? Check out our careers page.