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Tips for a better work/life balance

Monday, March 16, 2009
Trying to juggle family life and work? Image: Getty Images

Getting the balance right

  • Take plenty of time for yourself.
  • Separate your work and home life as much as you can.
  • Take regular "unplugged" time — with no emails, Internet, phones or laptops.
  • Look after your health and keep stress levels at bay.

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By Hannah Nicholas
MSN NZ writer

Work, kids, social and family commitments … are they all getting on top of you? Then it's time to take a step back and put some balance into your life.

Read our top tips for getting your work and home life stress-free and back on the right track.

Look after your health
Your health should always be your number one priority. If you're not in top shape both mentally and physically, it will affect all areas of your life. Stress is one of the biggest causes of poor health. To combat this, get enough sleep, eat regularly and choose healthy options, take time out for relaxation, and exercise at least three times a week.

Take time out for yourself
As much as your work and family takes priority in your life, it's important that you schedule "me time". Taking just one hour, once a week to do something for yourself can do wonders for your wellbeing — and your relationships and career will benefit too.

It doesn't need to be a visit to a day spa (although that's a great idea!) — take a novel to the park and enjoy the outdoors, play a round of golf, visit the gym or go for a long, relaxing walk ... just make sure you get away from it all and give your mind a chance to wander.

Manage your time
Learn how to use your time more effectively — both at work and home. Poor time management can result in a loss of hours and contribute greatly to your stress levels. Enrol in a time management course or implement some simple time management techniques:

  • create to-do lists and prioritise tasks,
  • avoid time wasters like surfing the Web and e-mail,
  • share the load (both at work and home wherever you can),
  • set yourself time limits and boundaries.

Learn to say "no"
Taking on too many tasks can be to your detriment. Learn to say no to things when there's too much on your plate. This applies to both work and personal events/tasks. Rather than feeling guilty, you'll learn that saying "no" can be really empowering.

Separate work and family life
New Zealand may be a laid-back nation but as workers, we are working longer and longer hours and failing to separate our working life from our family life. Learn to turn off the laptop after hours and resist checking your e-mails at all hours of the day and night. Ideally the minute you leave the office, you should leave your working life behind. For many this isn't possible, but be sure to give yourself plenty of "unplugged" time during your weekends and nights — that means no laptop, no e-mail and no mobile phone.

Find a flexible employer
Searching for a new position? More and more employers these days are catering for a more flexible workplace. Look for options like flexible hours, working from home, job sharing, onsite childcare facilities and family-friendly offices.

Use up your annual leave
Most of us rarely take the annual leave we’re allocated. Remember, it's there for a reason — to provide you with some much needed R&R.

Take a career break
If work's getting too much and your health's really suffering, taking time out to think about your career and what really matters in your life could be the perfect solution. Use up any outstanding annual leave or enquire about leave without pay. Take a short sabbatical and use the time wisely to evaluate your goals and life plan.

Have your say: How do you juggle family life with work commitments? Share you stories below:

User comments
I believe time management is very important especially when you have children...I feel when you have so many things to do including work, you forget about yourself to even eat...However i manage to poull through, but find it is tiring
Hi Apex, I was boarding with close family members in a terrible place for a year and stayed at work EVERY night till 10 pmish, making up excuses that i had meetings and extra work to do. I also worked Saturdays and Sundays till late just to avoid my family. The truth was, they were horrible people who did horrible things to each other. I had had enough! I decided that i was living in a dark hole and i had to get out, or i would be depressed and stuck in a negative situation. It took me a month to save some money, find a flatmate i trusted and go renting. I've been in my new flat for 2 weeks and its awesome to get home at 5pm and relax in front of the TV with no interruptions, and to go out and party on Saturday nights! Make a choice - flight or freeze!
Im a student and family relations are terrible for me now. I still live at home. Home is suppose to be a sanctuary. But my family prevents it from being so. So, i tend to stay at uni for longer hours and arrive at home at 8pm or later. I don't really enjoy studying, however my studies hold immense rewards at the end. If i need to prolong my hours at uni, to be away from the negative homeplace, I would. So, my comment is contrary to the article. All good, understood.
I think your article should reflect the current economic times. Take a career break - not quite appropriate right now for many people. Having a job in current times is a luxury. Most important thing is to enjoy your day job, as one spends most of their conscious life at work (if work full-time) than doing anything else. If you are happy at work, then you are bound to have happiness in other areas of your life too.