As technological developments make it easier to constantly check in on our work, family, and educational commitments – achieving a successful work-life balance grows ever-more difficult. Research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that Australia ranks 27th out of 35 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in terms of properly balancing career, study, and family time.
Mothers, carers, and those in managerial positions were, in particular, among the most affected by this imbalance in work and personal time.
Interestingly, the same study also reveals how little working hours matter; as long as one’s work and personal schedule matched their individual preferences, higher levels of satisfaction and mental health were often a result.
To successfully pursue your educational, work, and personal goals – we dive into our top tips for balancing each below.
Make a plan (or lots of them)
Your first step to achieving a proper career-life balance
is to map out your plans across each area. You can start by plotting out your goals, desires, and professional requirements on a yearly scale, planning these out across a rough timeline – then breaking this blueprint down into manageable monthly or weekly schedules.
This offers you a clear view of the time and resources you currently have, and how to expand on or make the most of them. Achieving this requires the art of discipline and time management, ensuring the necessary energy is set aside for what matters most.
However, it’s also important to stay flexible for the unexpected events or occasions. Keep an organised plan and schedule, though be prepared for adapt to new work projects, course assignments, and family commitments that may arise.
Be realistic and prioritise
Plans are one thing, though their execution is another. Realistically, we may find that much of our plans will fall by the wayside – though to make sure the most important goals are achieved, prioritising is crucial.
When planning out your goals, try ranking them on a scale of lowest to highest priority. Some experts recommend using the 80/20 rule or the “Pareto Principle”: the idea that 80% of your output should come from 20% of your efforts or time. This can help you form more productive to-do lists, ensuring emphasis is placed on the tasks producing real, abundant results.
Additionally, one can also organise their plans with an Eisenhower Matrix – a four-quadrant graph that arranges your activities by urgent and important; important, but not urgent; urgent, but not important; and neither urgent nor important. Once again, this can help you focus on the study, family, or work commitments that truly matter; any other plans that fall through are bound to have little to no (dire) consequences.
Setting and communicating your boundaries form a vital element of maintaining a quality work-life balance. This is all the more crucial with nearly half of the Australian population now working from home, as such arrangements often blur the lines between work and family life.
Simple tactics such as turning off your e-mail alerts over the weekend or leaving a sign on your door to let your housemates know you’re on the clock are all effective methods in ensuring you have the dedicated time and space required to focus on what matters. Of course, communication is key in all of this – should you need time off to tend to family matters, be sure to let your boss and team know ahead of time. If you’re picking up a few extra shifts – or need to catch up on some projects over the weekend, firmly let your loved ones know to avoid any surprises.
By being firm in your schedule and clear in your boundaries, you’re sure to make enough time for all priority commitments.
Though juggling multiple tasks at once may feel productive, doing so can actually hurt your efficiency and ability to get your work done. Bob Schafer – VP of research at the online training program, Lumosity – linked this to unnecessary time it takes to “switch gears”, along with the potential errors or mistakes one can make when doing so. As a result, multi-tasking often leads to poor-quality work, inevitable oversights, and (in a business context) lost profits.
It’s instead best to fully devote yourself to one dedicated task at a time, scheduling in enough hours (or minutes) between these activities. Setting aside time for breaks or interruptions is also recommended, as rigid schedules are unlikely to be followed down to a T.
Of course, try and limit the distractions you have on hand for maximum focus. While doing your work or study requirements, be sure to avoid social media updates or unnecessary conversations with those around you. When spending time with family or friends, avoid checking in on your work e-mails or group chats, if possible. Be present in your current activities – this will help you make the most of your available time with loved ones, at the workplace, or when working on that urgent course assignment.
Invest in self-care
While being productive is a good thing, remember that you’re only human. When planning for your work, family, and educational commitments; be sure to aside the time for adequate sleep, exercise, a healthy diet, and general self-care.
Don’t forget to take breaks in-between your tasks – research shows that doing so not only lowers your overall stress levels, but can also give you a much-deserved creativity, productivity, and memory boost when tending to your professional or educational responsibilities.
Additionally, investing in regular self-care can help you cultivate healthier daily habits; whether it’s giving yourself the regular physical activity you need, getting enough hours of sleep a night, or giving yourself enough time to prepare adequate, nutritious meals. With an improved well-being, you’ll be better-equipped to juggle your commitments between your work and personal life.
Pick study options that best suits your lifestyle
Finally, as an exclusive tip to those pursuing further training or education: if possible, select a study option that best suits your current schedule and lifestyle needs.
Plenty of courses are now fortunately available online, helping individuals study at a time, place, and pace that suits them best. With greater control over their education, not only can students achieve a greater work-life-study balance – but they also have the freedom to engage and digest course content according to their learning preferences.
You’ll also build a higher level of self-drive, discipline, and skills in time management with the autonomy online education provides.
Such courses are an ideal fit for busy professionals, stay-at-home parents, or simply those with little time to attend a physical campus. Students often find them a valuable opportunity to build their skills and knowledge with little disruption to their current commitments.
Making time to build your skills?
As mentioned, online courses are the perfect option to develop your skills or pursue new interests while maintaining the crucial work, life, and study balance you need.
The Australian Institute of ICT (AIICT) currently offers a wide range of comprehensive online courses in digital skills – helping prep you for some of the nation’s most in-demand tech roles or simply building on your current skills for a more technological future. Alongside courses in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data science; we’ve also recently launched a ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking) and a ICT50220 Diploma of Information Technology (Back-End Web Development), two thriving (and highly-demanded) skills areas in Australia’s IT sector.
Pursue a bigger, better skillset on a flexible schedule, and enquire with us on a course today.
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