I am a big believer in work/life integration. As a father of two little and energetic girls, I cannot afford to drop the ball when it comes to family. Equally, my job is challenging and demanding and sometimes I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do what I need to do.
I read a lot and listen to a lot of podcasts on management, leadership and finding the groove in life that allows you to achieve everything that you want to do.
I really like my job, all the people I work with and the great work we do as a team.
However, I have had to adjust my approach to work in the last few years and as a result, I have become ‘ok’ with leaving work, at work. In the past, when I had a bit more time on my hands, I would check and reply to emails and plan for the following day. It was a hard habit to break to be perfectly honest.
Nowadays, the demands of a young family dictate that I have to be 100% focussed on family time when I get home from work. And you know what, I love it.
1. You are not a computer: We are not built to work 24 hours a day. We need rest, we need social interactions, and we need down time. A podcast I listened to recently said a study in the US revealed that people who presented with symptoms of ‘burnout’ were ironically the people who had the highest annual leave balances. So take some time for yourself every now and again to recharge your batteries.
2. Work is a never ending process: Work will always be there – it’s a fact. The emails, meetings, reporting deadlines and business development duties will consistently invade your personal life, if you choose to let them that is. Finding a balance is therefore very hard to attain and sometimes feels like it is impossible. So harness the skills of time management and prioritisation stop trying to get everything done in one day! It is ok to turn off the notifications on your emails on your phone after work hours. They’ll just sit there until morning – I promise they will be just fine waiting for you to arrive at work the next day.
3. The demands of a project or client are important, but not more important that your family: Family must be number one – no ifs, no buts and no maybes. That is what we advocate at our office. Two hours of half-interested attention in the evening is not enough for your family. Your family will always enrich your life more than a client ever can, so give them the time they deserve. Kids grow up quickly (take it from the father of a 20 month old and a two month old!), so make the most of the precious time you get to spend with your little ones, or your little one’s little ones to all the grandparents out there.
4. If you hit a speed bump in life, you can count on your family to lend a helping hand: Don’t get me wrong, some employers will go the extra mile to support a staff member going through a challenging time in life (we certainly do), but family will always be there for you, so it is important to build and maintain strong relationships. It is hard to do this if you are constantly distracted by work.
5. Life is not just about work: I am a big advocate for planning a number of small (or big) events and breaks during the year – a long weekend away with friends, a nice dinner with your partner, a camping trip with the kids. It doesn’t need to be big or extravagant (or maybe it can be if you like that sort of stuff) – just something to look forward to. These little breaks and milestones make hard work worth it!
6. A person who stays back is not the hardest working person: Planning is key to finding balance between work and home life. But planning means thinking, and thinking is hard! If you can identify and prioritise your workload effectively, you won’t need to stay back after 5pm. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to stay back – if a big engagement or project kicks off, you may need to put in some OT. But in a normal workflow, you should be able to get the important tasks done and still get home on time.
7. Practice what you preach: If you are in a position of leadership, you should set the example for your team by organising your own day effectively and by encouraging your staff to do the same, so you, and everyone else, can get away from work on time. Working long hours shouldn’t be ‘the norm’. Sometimes it is unavoidable, no arguments there, but as a general rule, we should all be able to leave work on time to get home for the truly important things – family, friends and self.
About the author
Greg Quin is a Director at HLB Mann Judd Insolvency WA and has been with the team for nearly 10 years. Greg oversees the daily operations of the many insolvency appointments managed by the team and looks after the operations of the practice.