Fri 1st May 2015
A recent report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) highlighted a gap between skilled jobs being created and the number of skilled workers available for them. This gap in skills causes employers to look for alternative ways of employing these skills – which is great news for contractors! However with increased workloads there is a danger that contractors are losing sight of a healthy work life balance.
According to Tilda almost 50% of adults describe their work life balance as contributing to their lack of happiness, along with working long hours, lack of sleep and eating a poor diet – all pitfalls contractors can find themselves in if their time is not managed well.
Contractors often leave secured employments in search for more control, flexibility, variety in jobs and of course to reap high financial rewards. Whilst the financial side is of course important, so too are maintaining the other benefits of contracting.
Consider these points when trying to maintain your work life balance –
Understand and vocalise the balance that is important to you. Do you need to be home for the family meal each day? If so make people aware that you are available for meetings anytime from 7am but will not schedule one in after 4pm. If people are aware of your constraints they have a much better chance of respecting them than if you keep these details to yourself. An upfront approach can lead to far less pressure later on.
Be consistent with your approach. If you say you have to leave at 5 each day but rarely leave before 6 people will not respect your need to leave – as they can see you don’t either. By living your values others are more likely to honour them. If you only stick to your guns when it suits you, again others may see your actions as selfish.
Think of an alternative way of getting it done. Do you need to leave for a few hours to spend the time with your family, but can afford to get back on to a project later in the evening when they have gone to bed? Maybe schedule a video call from home at 9 pm when everyone have had chance to have some down time.
Focus your time on the things that matter. Managing time to ensure that time allocated is in proportion to the importance of the task. Becoming more efficient in the tasks you are doing can free up more time to use at your leisure.
Understand your workflows. Sometimes life is hectic and there is no way around it, it is a matter of getting your head down and getting through, however these should be balanced with calmer times when you have more time to catch up. Ensure you take time to understand your patterns. If the hectic period is becoming too long you are in danger of burning out. Let yourself take the time to see how it could be managed better. If your other half is nagging about time spent at work maybe it’s time to hear them.
Find the off button. It is the bain of modern life, mobile technology follows us everywhere so we rarely switch off – constantly on edge waiting for the next email to come in or being tempted to just write a quick reply or quickly read that report. But it is important to switch off. Self-imposed bans on technology at the dinner table or bedroom can create spaces where you can turn off for a while and zone in to more personal activities.