There was a time in my earlier career when I had really poor work life balance. I would take work home, check emails on holidays and regularly spend long hours in the office.
A few years ago, I realised that I was stressed and unhappy and had to do something about it. As I became more confident in my skills I understood that I could still be successful at work and achieve a great work life balance.
It did not come easy to me at first, but the changes I have made to better manage my work/life balance have been so positive. In the end, it’s all about boundaries, managing expectations and prioritizing.
When my first child was born last year, I knew that my family was now my priority. More than ever, achieving a great work/life balance was essential to me. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my child but at the same time I did not want to compromise my career. I love my job, and I knew returning to work was also very important to me.
Be Prepared to be Flexible Too
Although my employer has always been very open to employees working part time and having flexibility, there was no-one else in my team (at the time I was a Recruitment Specialist) who had worked part time before so I knew it would be difficult to implement at first.
I met with my managers and I asked them. They were really open to it and we worked together on what would work best for the team and for me.
To make things easier, we are lucky to work for an organisation which has technology and working practices that help towards achieving balance between work and life. I am able to login from home and I also have a smart phone. People often comment on the trouble of always being “connected” but I don’t believe it is an issue if you set clear boundaries. Having access to your work emails remotely gives you so much more flexibility but at the same time, there is no point in working part time hours if you spend all your free time doing work.
Everyone is different and some people will have very strict rules such as no calls or no emails during their time off. Personally, I prefer to take a more flexible approach, checking my emails on a regular basis and returning calls if they are urgent. Anything non-urgent will wait until my return to the office.
When I am spending quality time with my child or family, I rarely look at my phone. I have also set myself some strict rules, like avoiding to check work emails after 6:30/7pm or at weekends. My evenings and weekends are for myself and my family, and it’s important to set hard boundaries like these to maintain a good balance.
The Challenges of Working Part Time
Some days, working part time hours can have its challenges. For example, if something urgent has just come up and you are about to leave, you may feel like you are not going to be presented with the same opportunities and will end up missing out. If you stay however, you may find that you are doing as much work as everyone else but are taking a loss in salary.
I think you can’t always win, and there will certainly be lots of times you will be torn between wanting to take on more or not picking up a great project because you are part time.
However, organisations are now starting to move towards a flexible work approach and are keen to retain high performing staff members by offering them the flexibility they need. There is lots of talk in the media about empowering women and parents returning to work. Lots of influencers are coming forward to show how they can be successful and still achieve a great work/life balance.
Although it’s becoming harder to separate work and life, working part-time or working flexibly can really help you to find the balance that works for you. Do you feel like you’re taking your work home too much? If you’re looking for an employer who can afford you the flexibility you’re looking for, feel free to get in touch with Beyond Recruitment.