According to the OECD, “the ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household.” What’s more, the organisation says “evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress.”
And work/life balance isn’t just about leisure time, but also includes time for basic personal care like eating and sleeping.
The OECD have created a Better Life Index, which compares factors which affect well-being such as housing, working hours, income, education, health, life satisfaction and work/life balance, across the world.
The Index has found that 12.8% of the working UK population are working more than 50 hours a week on average. The UK also ranks 21 out of 38 countries for time devoted to leisure and personal care (around 14.9 hours a day on average).
UK workers need to start prioritising life over work – but how?
Entrepreneur.com asked a group of entrepreneurs and executives for their ultimate advice on getting the work/life balance right. Here’s what they had to say.
Decide what’s right for you
“The notion of ‘balance’ looks different for everyone. You have to find it where you can, when you can,” says Patrick Llewellyn, president and CEO of 99designs. The busy family man interweaves his work and home responsibilities throughout the day, choosing to take calls before breakfast, then take his kids to school, before heading to work and putting his kids to bed at night. He shows that your working day doesn’t need to have a regimented structure.
Use technology to manage your time better
Technology can sometimes be blamed for making us busier – it’s the reasons we receive emails from work 24 hours a day, after all. Guy Gunaratne, co-founder of Storygami, argues that technology also provides you with tools to be extremely efficient with your time.
“I use time-tracking software [Toggl] to monitor how much time and energy I’m spending on everything I do. I have found I work better within time chunks,” he said. “Day to day it doesn’t impact my workflow, but month to month I know how much time I’m spending doing development, project management and a host of other activities over any given day. The data also tells me how much time I’m not spending doing other things, like taking care of myself. I know this approach isn’t for everyone, but the technology helps me manage better.”
Prioritise and plan personal time
It’s just as important to plan ahead when it comes to family, holidays, exercise and relaxation if you want to make sure you get more out of your work time in the long run.
“There has been tremendous research over the years that shows individuals who take time from their active work schedules have an increased ability to perform and contribute to their fullest,” agrees Steven Rice, chief HR officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“For me, integrating work and life is about ruthlessly prioritizing and focusing only on the things that matter – both at work and at home. At work it might mean meeting a deadline or scoring a lunch with a key contact. If I go on a business trip, I make sure it’s really important and necessary. At home it might mean making sure my kids’ homework gets done. Making sure my kids eat dinner is a high priority, too, though their dinner might not always be homemade or on time. If you’re prioritizing the right way, you’re making sure none of these important things get dropped,” reveals Joanna Strober, co-founder and CEO of Kurbo Health.