We live in a fast-paced world, juggling more than our fair share of responsibilities. As career driven women, we want to rise to new challenges and progress through the ranks – but we also love our me-time. Despite this, we’re facing a culture that celebrates being over-worked. So how do you prove yourself as a keen employee whilst maintaining a healthy work-life balance? Are we working as productively as we can to maximise our time at the coal-face?
Now don’t get me wrong, I more than understand there will be times during your career (if not the very nature of your work) where you’ll be faced with late nights, overtime and coffee-fuelled days moving from meeting to meeting. My issue is when the word ‘busy’ is used to define your worth and contribution to a business. Since when did the amount of lunches skipped, the weekend hours worked and running on empty define success and hard work?
Being busy is a badge worn with pride and one shared with an air of boastful pride. We’ve seen the workers (or we may be the very culprit), who, with good intentions, stay late and are always accessible. With no black and white boundaries, working and personal lives begin to blur. Such a lifestyle starts to generate feelings of resentment simply because what was once a good intention is now seen as the norm, NOT an act of going above and beyond.
A career isn’t a game of ‘Survivor’ and we’re certainly not being judged on our ability to function on next-to-no sleep and juggling strained relationships. No, we’ll be judged on our ability to work well with our peers, deliver on time, on-budget and our success in meeting the client’s needs.
Raising the issue of an uncomfortable workload can be a hard conversation to have early on in your career. You’re eager to prove yourself and want to be seen as dependable, stepping up to the plate as a team player. But your health and wellbeing is also a priority.
Reaching out to your boss is crucial in maintaining balance. We’re so afraid of how we’ll be perceived by our peers that we’d rather prefer staying tight-lipped about how we’re coping with our workload. Acknowledging your limitations and asking for help will be key in maintaining a high standard of work – when you’re tired mistakes are made, details are glossed over and that mole hill really is a mountain now.
But sometimes it seems like there just isn’t enough time in the day. So how can we make the most of the working day to ensure we’re able to clock off and prioritise our non-negotiables?
Save your Inbox
Multi-tasking may actually be limiting you. As mundane as that task is, keep your focus on one project at a time. Adopting a new email strategy could mean setting aside specific times during the day when you will check your email. There’s nothing worse than breaking your train of thought by checking your email mid-way through a project. Mute the notifications and avoid the temptation to look at an email as soon as it comes in. Also ask yourself, ‘should I really be sending this email, or should I pick up the phone and talk to the person?’
Get into the Zone
Taking regular breaks throughout the day is always a good chance to clear your head – whether it’s a walk to the staffroom to grab a drink, or just a chance to stretch your legs. Music is also a great way to block out distractions in the work place – keyboards clicking, phones ringing, and the hyena laughing from down the hall. So get your playlist together, chuck those headphones in and block out the sounds of your workplace.
How often do you check your phone during the day? It could be time to put your phone on mute or turn off those social media notifications. Set yourself times during the day where you’ll allow yourself a break to clear your personal emails, check those Instagram posts and catch up on the latest news.
It also may require a few well-worded conversations with your colleagues to let them know that hey, you definitely want to hear how their weekend was, but a catch-up at morning tea would work best so they can have your full attention.
Set Mini-Deadlines to Meet your Targets
Replicating your to-do list in your calendar and blocking out your time is a great way to visualise how much time you actually have to work with. Prioritise in terms of urgency and if it looks like you’re not going to make the deadline, make sure your clients (both internal and external) are kept up to date. Managing expectations is crucial.
For me I know the gym is a priority. It’s my time to unwind, de-stress and leave work behind before I get home. So what can you do for yourself every week? It could be ensuring you’re home for dinner with the family, tuning out of social media after 8pm or setting time aside to read a book, these simple acts impact our overall wellbeing and should be prioritised.
Let’s shift the focus from being ‘busy’ to ‘balanced’ and celebrate the Workhers out there striving for wellbeing. It’s a tough gig, but one that is rewarding for not only yourself, but for your relationships and job satisfaction.