Sometimes, achieving work-life balance can seem as hard as finding a cure for cancer. Long working hours are so common right now that when someone manages to leave the office before 7pm, he’s branded a slacker.
So do you need to be Chuck Norris to achieve work-life balance? Truth be told, there are three very basic principles, satisfying which you will definitely have a good shot at maintaining a life outside of work.
Good work-life balance begins with finding the right employer
If you have an employer who is determined to give you enough work to make you stay at the office till 9pm, or one who expects you to stick around until he leaves whether you have work or not, you’re fighting a battle you’ll never win.
Working for an employer who focuses on face-time rather than results, or who has unrealistic expectations of how much work one person can take on, will mean that the only way to achieve work-life balance is to incur the wrath of your boss or fail to finish your work.
So look for a results-focused boss who’s truly supportive of flexible arrangements wherever possible, and empowers employees to pick arrangements that will enable them to do their best work.
Of course everyone’s idea of what is reasonable is different, and while some might find working till 8pm acceptable, others may absolutely need to be able to leave at 6pm, for instance if they have kids to pick up at childcare.
The key is to decide where your limits lie, and then find an employer whose expectations accord with yours. Of course, you might have to sacrifice the highest paying jobs if you want a more balanced lifestyle.
Work smart and manage your workflow efficiently
So your boss doesn’t really care what time you go home, and you aren’t being saddled with unreasonable amounts of work. So why do you still find yourself packing up and leaving so late?
If we are very honest with ourselves, many employees in Singapore are not working efficiently. Many people routinely take long lunch breaks, and spend their time at the office surfing Facebook, chatting on Whatsapp, or gossiping with colleagues. If that sounds like you, you only have yourself to blame if you’re staying back late.
But even if you’re not exactly wasting all your time at the office, there’s a chance you can reduce the time you working by working smarter and streamlining your work processes. To cite a very simple example many people across industries can relate to, instead of dropping everything and scrambling to reply to emails whenever they pop up, only check your emails periodically and answer them in batches.
Organise your life outside of work
Whether you work very long hours or get to run home the moment the clock strikes 6pm, if you don’t make the most of your hours outside of work, don’t expect to feel like you have decent work-life balance. So don’t spend every waking hour after work surfing internet forums.
Other than scheduling regular social or family engagements after work, make plans for your free time too.
That doesn’t necessarily have to mean signing up for classes or activities. It can simply mean spending your free time in a deliberate way. For instance, you might decide to go for a run after work, followed by dinner at home and a movie on Netflix. The fact that you’re deciding to plan your time in this way will prevent you from spending your entire night on the Internet.
No matter how many hours you have to yourself after work, make the most of them.
This article was first published on MoneySmart.