We speak a lot about obtaining a work/life balance, but what does this actually mean?
The average adult spends 8 hours working a day, 5 days a week, for around 230 days of the year for 45 years. Before we reach the Australian retirement age of 65 we’ll have spent around 9.5 years of our entire lives at work.
Work/life balance is about making these hours more beneficial to the lifestyle that you want to lead to help get the most of the time that is given to us. There’s no point spending 8 hours stressing yourself out at work when it bleeds into the time you have to yourself or triggers health issues that you then need to deal with in your own time.
The first suggestion for improving your work/life balance is to find something that you love doing. If you’re running your own business, love the wedding industry, or are happy working with couples who are planning a happy day for themselves, the good thing is that you’re already partway there! Now it’s all about turning our passions into a lifestyle while giving ourselves the free time that we actually need.
Here are a few tips of what you can implement to give yourself a better quality of work/life balance.
Set working times – and stick to them
Most people spend 8 hours at work and then 8 hours asleep every day. Which only leaves us another 8 hours to squeeze in family time, exercise, travel, and everything else that goes into a day. In the wedding industry, we know that these days can blow out to bigger days when working a wedding on the weekend for instance. Some suppliers are spending 10, 12 or even 14 hours working at one wedding!
If this is the case for you, factor this into the time you put into your work or your business throughout the rest of the week. The average working week for a full-time employee is 37.5 hours. If you’re running your own business it’s so important to stick to this and to keep your work/life balance.
If you’re working on the weekend this is taking away from the usual time spent with family, so make this up throughout the week. Give yourself a weekend, or two days off in a row, every week where you can. This can help you reset and also prioritises time spent with family and friends.
On the days that you do work, set yourself strict working hours. Starting at 9 and being able to shut down again at 5 may make your schedule more strict, but it also makes sure you’re prioritising that time to yourself.
Don’t be afraid to unplug
We know that couples are getting in touch with wedding businesses at different times of the night, but this doesn’t always mean that you should get back to them then. Setting up templates on your phone that you can use to respond to a couple without having to jump back into work mode is a great way to make the most of your free time without missing out on potential leads.
Alternatively set yourself that time to respond in the hours you know enquiries will come through. If you often get enquiries between 7pm and 8pm on a weeknight set this into your working hours. Work 9 to 4 and then add the extra hour in to respond to enquiries later.
The worst thing you can do is continuously respond as enquiries come through, whether you’re spending time with other people or just sitting on the couch by yourself. Having to constantly jump back into work mode won’t allow you to properly switch off. If needed, set yourself a specific time period to switch off and leave your phone and laptop alone to make sure you get your me-time.
Meet clients halfway
When we think about what hours we’re working we don’t often include travel times in this. Particularly for the beginning or end of the day. If you’re running a business that requires you to be travelling to meet clients then try to include this in your working time.
If a client or couple is a bit further away from you and you don’t have an office where they can meet you, try to meet them halfway instead. This will help you reduce your travel time and get some of that time back to yourself. Plus it’ll make your working day a bit less stressful if you can get more of that time for other business activities.
Make sure you’re socialising throughout the day
If you’re working at a venue where you’re on your own, running a business as a sole trader, or working from home, you can sometimes fall into a trap of spending most of your week alone. If this is the case make sure you take yourself out of the house or office now and then.
You might spend your day talking to clients, but this doesn’t count as time spent socialising. It could be as simple as heading to a cafe to work for one hour a day, heading to a networking event, or catching up with a similar business owner or mentor once a week. Find something that suits your business hours and personality to give yourself a working network you can lean on.
Even having someone who isn’t your partner or group of friends to be able to discuss work issues with can be a bonus. It means you’re not always putting that pressure on your partner or friends while still meaning you can let off steam.
Book yourself some time off!
If you’re hired by an employer you’re generally given 4 weeks of annual leave a year. If you’re working for yourself this can be harder to manage as you’re always trying to make sure you meet your bottom line. But taking a break from work is really important for your work/life balance!
This means switching off all of your emails, notifications, phone calls, and making sure you’re not booking events during that period of time. If it means hiring someone else for 4 weeks to monitor your enquiries and give you a break throughout the year then it’s worth it. It could be 4 weeks in one block or 2 weeks over Christmas and 2 weeks over the rest of the year. Whatever it is, make sure you lock that break in.
With the wedding industry often being booked out in advance we know it can be hard to schedule spontaneous trips. Look at the least busy time of the year for your business (usually July) and block some time out for yourself in advance. Whether it’s for 2020, 2021 or beyond, having a break that you can look forward to is a nice way to start the year!