Australians are living longer but this doesn’t mean we’re happier. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently asked Australians to rate their work-life balance, and found we came in below the international average. Australia is renowned for being a laidback country, however, it seems that we’re not living up to our reputation.

Recognising when our work and life isn’t balanced

As a busy entrepreneur, business owner, coach and mentor, I have learned about work-life balance the hard way. Over the years, I’ve managed to find balance by recognising the warning signs that something is amiss.

Some of the warning signs include:

  • Spending long hours at your workplace after your team has gone home
  • Working every weekend without having down time
  • Having your family complain that they never see you
  • Being distracted by emails and your phone when you’re not at work
  • Missing important life events, like your child’s school sports day
  • Not being able to switch off or step away from your business

Positive state of mind

To achieve a healthy work-life balance, you need to have the right frame of mind.

Being busy at work all the time shouldn’t be seen as a badge of honour, and working long hours shouldn’t be something that’s admired.

Once you realise that making time for your personal life is important, you will be on the road to having a positive frame of mind when it comes to getting the balance right.

Achieving the perfect work-life balance doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and effort. Don’t expect immediate results, rather, acknowledge change takes time.

Treat the problem

Don’t push out the elements of the life you love to make time for work ‘obligations’.

You might believe your workout isn’t as important as a work meeting, but if it’s keeps you healthy and improves your feeling of wellbeing, then it’s just as important as work, if not more important.

To address work-life balance issues, you need firstly tackle the cause. If you’re simply cutting out the parts of your life you enjoy instead of realising it’s the work tasks that need to be minimised, you are dealing with the symptoms of your work-life unbalance, rather than tackling the core problems.

Stop feeling ‘selfish’

Self-care is different to being selfish. If you feel selfish when you take time for yourself, you might need to change your attitude. We all need to look after ourselves so we don’t become rundown and overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself puts you in a better position to lead your team and stay organised.

Recognising that you’re not being selfish but simply giving yourself care is one positive step on the path to improving your work-life balance.

Getting your work and life balanced again

Once you’ve recognised your work and life is unbalanced, you’ve already fought half the battle. The next challenge is to get the balance right again.

To do this, you need to find a way to manage your workload and personal life – and for each of us this process will be different, because we have diverse limits and unique personal needs. For example, if you have young children you might prioritise family time more significantly than if you are single and without children.

Getting the work-life balance right

When you start to improve your work-life balance, you’ll see positive signs that’ll help show you’re on the right track. These can include:

  • Feeling on top of your workload without sacrificing time family time
  • Feeling motivated, energised and prepared to tackle tough decisions
  • Waking up in the mornings feeling refreshed and ready to embrace the day, rather than exhausted and wanting to stay in bed

Getting the work-life balance right takes time and effort, but with small steps, we can improve our lives for the better.