Don’t wait ’till tomorrow: achieving work-life balance

Industrial Tips & Tricks
April Shwe

Work-life balance is something I find extremely difficult to achieve so it’s a topic that’s close to my heart.  In today’s crazy, busy world of round-the-clock connectivity, working a standard 40-hour week on a salary isn’t the norm anymore. I’ve always been the type of person to give 110% to my job, and will work tirelessly day and night to get things done. But up until recently when I lost my mother to cancer, I never took much action to ensure I had some balance between work, and my life. It took something as close to home as losing the closest person in my world to be reminded of how essential it is to make sure you get to truly live! Yes, work is very important and having an amazing career is fantastic. But if you can’t enjoy your days off, or be present with loved ones when you’re not at work, then you could miss out on so much and it’s not healthy for you in the long term.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in your career goals and neglect your loved ones, or worse, your own health. ­­­After all, it’s a common practice in the corporate world to skip lunch breaks, and put in insane hours to achieve targets or overachieve. However, achieving a work-life balance is so important and especially in this day and age, when you don’t get the balance right you end up burning out. Never let an opportunity to spend time with a loved one go by just to catch up on emails or make one last client call.

The first step to getting some work-life balance is to be more aware that you don’t currently have the right balance. Once you recognise this, then you’ll be able to make a conscious effort to balance your life with some fun and relaxation. Here are three tips for you to try if you are seeking more balance in your life.  These are what helped me achieve a better work-life balance:

1.Find a hobby you are passionate about

Finding a hobby to do in your weekends or after work can help you get out the door on time, and help you feel like you have a life outside work. My favourite hobby has to be travelling! I’ve lived in New Zealand for the past 15 years, but until recently had not seen much of the country. While travelling sounds expensive and unattainable, I’ve found that if you’re smart with budgeting and finding deals online you can have an amazing holiday without splashing out. I usually travel during off-peak seasons, and avoid public holidays to avoid burning a hole in my pocket. Over the last two years, I’ve had over 20 weekend getaways, visiting places including Whitianga, the Coromandel, Thames, Mangawhai, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Whangarei and Omaha.

It’s so rewarding to find something that rejuvenates your mind and really sets your soul on fire. I’ve found that I love travelling and discovering places I haven’t been to before, it helps realign my mindset and brings out my inner child while I explore new and exciting landscapes. We are so lucky to live in a country that’s so diverse! Make the most of it. You don’t even have to leave Auckland to explore new places; there are so many awesome hikes and activities to do in Auckland if your budget is tight.

2. Yes, exercise!

I know you’ve heard this before but it’s so true! Exercise helps relieve stress, but also keeps your mind healthy and active. This year I have really gotten into exercising regularly and I’ve noticed it has really helped me both physically and mentally. Midway through this year, I was experiencing a lot of stress mentally and emotionally. Regular exercise allowed my body and mind to let off some steam. I used to get really bad upper shoulder and back pains after getting a desk job but I haven’t had any of these aches and pains since I began exercising regularly. Exercising doesn’t even have to mean the gym! It can take the form of fun and adventure too.

April crosses Tongariro


For example, earlier this year I did the Tongariro Crossing, which was a challenging 19,400 meter walk.  There were breathtaking views and I took over 34,000 steps that day – great for the mind, body and soul! It doesn’t even have to be epic hikes like the Tongariro Crossing, it could be as easy as a walk along Mission Bay with a friend or a hike through the Waitakere ranges.

3. Take breaks, and leave on time

Not taking a break to eat or just step away from your desk can have a hugely negative affect on your performance –  more than you think! Studies show a link between taking breaks and other important outcomes that employers care about: higher job satisfaction; reduced emotional exhaustion; and greater efforts by employees to undertake work above-and-beyond their job description. Even just a short 5-10 minute walk to the dairy, or stepping away from your desk to eat your lunch can make a huge difference to your day.

Try to get better at prioritising, and figuring out what needs to be done now, and what can be done tomorrow. As simple as it sounds, it can be hard to master if you’re someone like me who usually likes to get everything done by the end of the week to start fresh the next week. But if you make an effort you’ll realise there are things you need to get done today and other tasks that can be done tomorrow. Hit the beach or catch up for dinner with that friend you haven’t seen in years! That email can wait till the morning.