The work/life balance. Is it only for people with a few bucks or does it actually exist for people on minimal wage? Perhaps it’s one of those 21st century myths created by the wealthy to inspire people who are struggling to work for peanuts, raise kids, look after elderly parents, have a social life, do things for others or the community and try to somehow sneak in valuable time out? Should they be so optimistic or is it a mythical ploy to make them work harder?
Now, we’ve all been told that everything is achievable if we are prepared to put in the hard work. However, achieving the work/life balance when the chips are down and the funds are low is actually achieved by doing the opposite. Like to know what I’m on about?
From my experience, work/life achievers without money to fund the balance, usually don’t care for elderly parents needing constant attention, combined with kids who demand the latest iPhone. They might have one or the other, but probably not both. As far as community involvement, they might attend functions, events and social engagements in their spare time but you rarely see them in the trenches organising any of it.
What these work/life balancers know is how to effectively say no to passing responsibilities like taking on that extra shift, child minding, transporting a 90-year-old nan to the doctor or fundraising for the local community. Purely focused on the balance they so desperately require, they don’t feel a bit guilty about it either. They know that someone else will pick up the slack, so they can sit back and have it all.
That someone is usually their single sibling who works full-time, has four kids and rolls their sleeves up at the local school during functions. They will “choose” to take nan to the doctor, in lieu of time out. Unfortunately for them, they do have a conscience and rather than successfully achieving their work/life balance, they effectively work their way further from it. It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?
In this case, achieving the work/life balance is actually based on not putting in the hard yards at all. If they can get others to do that on their behalf, then they’ll be able to get there. However if they do the hard work themselves, they are pretty much out of luck.
So, effectively it appears that achieving a work-life balance isn’t for everyone and for some it is a mythical 21st century ploy which makes them continue to work harder. Those with some money have a better chance because they can outsource some of their responsibilities. Those without it, combined with a conscience probably won’t get there. Plus, if they have a sibling who manages to acquire it, they’re pretty much screwed!
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I’ve recently started a job which requires me to work three full days. But of course considering Sydney’s layout and traffic it ends up consuming a 7am-7pm frame. On my two other days in the week I am at university (studying full time), frantically trying to catch up on missed lectures, tutorial homework, assignments…
So I’ve had to come to terms with it – life is busy. But apparently life just keeps on getting busier which made me start to get a little upset. I can already see how I have less and less time for friends, those random coffee catch-ups and everyday things I love. I can’t always go out to dinner or see friends on weeknights as sometimes I get home late, have work to do or am frankly just too buggered. The weeknights have never been so important to me and I finally see how working hard, playing hard is the way to do it.
But I don’t want to be waiting around for the weekend all the time to enjoy myself and see friends and have time to do the things I really love. So I’ve come to a few conclusions on how to improve my work life balance, and love my life everyday…even those days that start at 6am and end at 10.30pm!
1. Let your work become your lifestyle
If you hate your job, I’m sorry to say but you are probably going to start hating on your life. I’m not saying everyday has to be the most exciting, but it’s important to feel positive and see the value in working so hard throughout the week. Your job should be a reflection of your purpose and passions in life.
2. Organise fun activities and social things throughout the week
It can be hard but sometimes that dinner with your partner or a good friend in the middle of the week is just what you need to balance work and play.
3. Make the most of your mornings
For my partner, it’s about physical activity whether it be running or surfing before work. For me it’s stimulating my creative mind however I want in the ways of blogging, reading or storming through Pinterest and listening to music on my way to work.
4. Use your lunch breaks wisely
Invite your work colleagues to the local park for lunch and a chat – you’ll almost always learn something new about your job or business and rapport is so important in improving the quality of your job.
5. Vary up your routines
Whether it be what you eat or drink in the morning, how you get to work, what you wear, or your work hours – change things up! Make life exciting in the little things everyday. For me I try to wear something bright and different everyday, vary my makeup for a different look and take different routes to work (yesterday I took the ferry home and got to enjoy a sunset harbour view – what a treat!).
6. Maximise your weekends
I’m always up early on Saturday morning. I tend to start my weekend with some Pilates, followed by family time, then heading over to the beaches for anything ranging from hiking to a swim, to just hanging with friends.
7. Always be positive and optimistic
Don’t whinge and weep. If you’re not happy about a job or a lifestyle – change it. You are in control of your life and you only live once so do it well.
Make your job or studies be a part of your lifestyle. Everything has pros and cons to it but it’s up to you to choose which you focus on. Take charge and live the life you want, everyday.
How do you balance work and life?
Adriana Paczyski blogs about travelling, photography and life at Golden Hour Girl.