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  1. Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    December 16, 2014 by Jenna

    We are delighted to share this week’s blog from Virginia Herlihy, who works for an organisation called How Do We Do It. They provide in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. For those of you that may not know her, here is her background below and we hope you enjoy her featured blog:

    A note from Founder, Virginia Herlihy

    My passion for helping working parents find a successful way to manage their work and home lives has meant I’ve witnessed first-hand the issues that organisations face in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female talent.

    As a working mother of two and a successful small business owner, I’ve personally faced the challenge of combining work and family.

    It’s been critical for me to examine and understand my values and develop strategies to achieve success and satisfaction in both areas of my life.

    My background in executive coaching, training and group facilitation means I can help both organisations and parents acquire those skills and strategies– to facilitate greater work-life harmony and success.

    I’m proud to say, the feedback we’ve received means the programmes and coaching we’ve developed, work.

    Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    •  45% of couples with children under 2 are both in the workforce
    • 66% of couples with primary school children are both working. Australian Financial Review 2011

    Today many couples are jointly responsible for sharing their work and family responsibilities, so getting some kind of work/life balance can be a real challenge. If you’re a working mother you probably feel that family and work are competing (and constant) demands. You’re likely to be juggling your own expectations and responsibilities about how you should perform in both areas, as well as those of your colleagues and family. While mothers might get most of the attention when it comes to the challenge of balancing family and work, fathers also struggle to juggle their responsibilities and aspirations.

    So, how do YOU do it? Here are some tips that you have time to read because they are short and that we know help, from our experience with working with hundreds of working mothers and working fathers.

    • Strategy 1

    Continue to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of what you’re doing that is working for you/what you gain from the choice you are making to be a working parent.

    •  Strategy 2

    Remind yourself that you are not alone, and your challenges are normal which is very helpful in itself.  Keep actively talking to others like you and sharing experiences. Your network and the tips they share will help normalise your experience.

    •  Strategy 3

    Stop tuning in to others negative judgements/biases of how you are supposed to make being a working parent work. You can only get this right for you and your family/work.

    •  Strategy 4

    Get clear on your version of success as a working parent by answering theses questions – What does success look like for me as a working parent? What’s most important to me about my life? What’s most important to me about my working life?

    •  Strategy 5

    Avoid the language of compromise/trade off/sacrifice, which is negative and implies loss. Instead recognise that you are making choices, which have consequences and benefits so consciously use the language of choice.

    •  Strategy 6

    Use a scaling technique i.e. rating things from 1-10, low to high – to assess how much you want to do something out of 10 in terms of your energy, motivation, ability, how important it is to others etc. You can also use this to get perspective and rate how important something is in terms of your life overall so that you are less stressed by it. Your intuitive response will give you useful information.

    •  Strategy 7

    Check your energy around choices you are making/people with whom you are interacting and see whether or not you are being drained or filled.  When you have choice, in your personal life particularly, you can limit your exposure to draining people, situations.

    •  Strategy 8

    Remember to position shift – consider the decision/situation from different perspectives, your position, the other’s position.

    Author – Virginia Herlihy, Founder and Director of How do YOU Do It – Working Parents Programmes tailored to your business.

    Contact details:

     Who is How Do YOU Do It?

    • We deliver in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. We’re specialists in helping businesses support their talent.
    • We help businesses solve issues including female attraction and retention, flexible working strategies, as well as “on and off ramping”.
    • We help working parents find success at work and at home and balance their responsibilities in both areas
    • The result is a win/win for both businesses and parents

  2. Is Work-Life Balance REALLY Achievable?

    December 2, 2014 by Jenna

    When you look at the term ‘work-life balance’, you may wonder if there really is such a thing. Now while there is no ‘perfect’ way to find work-life balance, we shouldn’t aim to believe that it isn’t achievable. So what’s the solution?

    An article published by Alyssa Gregory discusses three important elements to consider when creating a work-life balance compromise:

    Firstly, when you think of the word balance, you think of weighing scales. Your work life on one side and our personal life on the other. It can add extra pressure to continually be striving to find an even balance between the two on a regular basis. Alyssa challenges you to get rid of the ‘balance’ aspect of the term and instead focus on ‘compromise’. Imagine compromise as a means of aiming for a level of give and take that satisfies all of your needs in the best way possible.

    In order to do this, there are three essential things you need to keep in front of you to make our struggle for acceptable compromise achievable.

    Priorities

    The first essential element involves taking a long, hard and realistic look at your priorities. You will then need to rank the level of importance of all aspects of your life, whether it’s work commitments, family, hobbies etc.

    It’s also important to recognise that your priorities will change, sometimes frequently, and if you’re not clear on what parts of your life need your attention first, achieving an acceptable compromise will be a struggle.

    Flexibility

    Being able to react and adapt to changes and unexpected surprises are vital as nothing is ever set in stone. Regroup and shuffle your priorities, and change directions when necessary. By doing this, you’ll gain the flexibility you need to move with the changes.

    Acceptance

    The reality is that some days are better than others and some priorities will be easier to satisfy than others.

    The key is to remember that with a constant give and take, and the goal of doing the best you can at any given time, you can trust that it will eventually all even out in the end.

    I personally agree that if all three points outlined above are applied, the outcome you want can be achieved.

    If I don’t set out my priorities in order of importance then I won’t be able to balance the time and energy I need to put towards them. If I’m not flexible or adaptable to changes in my work or personal life, then I will find it harder to move forward in the right direction. And if I don’t accept that some days I will kick a goal with my checklist and other days I won’t, then my expectations of perfection may add further pressure on myself and to my workload. So why not apply these methods and see what happens?

    Do you believe that work-life balance is achievable? If so, what do you do to make it work?


  3. How Do You Achieve Work Life Balance?

    August 21, 2012 by Jenna

    Whether you think it a myth or you have managed to make this work in your life, everyone has to create their own work-life balance. Stepping up in the corporate ladder will often involve further responsibilities, and the pressures and commitments outside of work will sometimes mean that decisions/sacrifices need to be made to find balance.

    But is there ever really a balance? Or can it sometimes feel like an ultimatum?

    In a generation that is so reliant on technology, do you often find that you are checking your emails outside of work, making late night phone calls and perhaps having trouble sleeping when you are focusing on a deadline?

    Let’s face it; the result of overworking can often bring more negative outcomes than good in terms of personal life and health. Increased stress and anxiety on a regular basis, not allocating enough time for meal/coffee breaks and limiting face to face contact with loved ones will often leave you feeling like you have achieved less instead of more.

    This of course depends on the individual and the field of work, but I can personally say that I can relate to this topic all too well.

    Around December last year I made a complete career change. For the past six years leading up to this change, I was building a name for myself in events and hospitality, working around the clock to meet the demands of the job, which in turn cost me in terms of a personal life. Time for my friends and family would often need to be an appointment in the calendar, and while I gained so much in terms of experience and growth, and the industry provided many opportunities and perks, there came a time for me to make an independent choice to either continue this lifestyle or make a change.

    And what a change it has been! Not only did I realise that one could do ‘normal’ hours, but I can now make more use of my free time in ways that I never had the opportunity to before. Not to mention exploring a new industry entirely and branching out!

    If you currently find that your scale is leaning more towards to the work component over life, how can you balance it in your life?

    Jeff Stibel of Harvard Business Review outlines seven ways that you can create more balance and be happier at work:

    1. Smile –  Turns out, smiling is directly linked to happiness. It may have started as a correlation but, over time, the brain linked the two. Don’t believe me? Try this: smile (a nice big smile) and attempt to think of something negative. Either you will stop smiling or you won’t be able to hold the negative thought.
    2. Stop worrying – Worrying happens to be one of humanity’s best traits. It is the underlying emotion behind foresight, planning, and forecasting. We worry because some future event is uncertain and that feeling is a cue for us to start thinking about how to address it. The problem is, we worry too much about things that are out of our control (like the economy, stupid). Stop sweating the small stuff!
    3. Take a break – Overworking people to exhaustion is a horrible way to extract knowledge from people. Taking a break provides an opportunity to reflect and often it is during such times when the best ideas, our deepest insights, emerge.
    4. Do things differently – Part of the problem at work for many people is boredom. We are stuck in a rut where we come in and do the same thing over and over and over again. Get your enthusiasm back by doing things differently.
    5. Stop managing and start leading – If you’re in management, you need to find ways to motivate and stimulate your employees. How? Stretch their minds. Empower your team by giving them more responsibility, more decision-making power, more autonomy. Equally important: be inclusive. Explain what is happening in the company as a whole and give your employees a broader perspective on how their jobs influence the overall business.
    6. Delegate – Being controlling is bad for business, not to mention bad for your physical and mental health. The best leaders always look for people better, smarter, and more capable than themselves.
    7. Have fun – Here is some tough advice: If you don’t like what you are doing, stop doing it. Life is too short to not have fun. I love what I do and when I stop loving it, I do something else. Even in this economy, you will be in high demand if you are good at what you do — and can do it with a smile on your face.

    Not sure of where to start when it comes to work-life balance for your employees? Forbes outlines five easy steps to A+ work-life balance:

    1. Talk the talk – Put work-life balance in your Core Values, post it prominently and create opportunities to talk about what that means with your employees.
    2. Walk the walk – You have to model it. Avoid email on weekends and at night. Take vacations. Give employees rewards of experiences (dinner for two, an activity for kids) that show you care about their life outside the office.
    3. Ask! – How many employers have actually asked their employees what they would want to have a satisfactory work-life balance? It might not be as long a list as you think. Make time to find out what balance looks like for each employee and work together to make it happen.
    4. Get out of the 9-7 box – Give employees more flexible schedules! If you think they will take advantage then they are probably not employees you should trust to begin with. Judge on performance not hours of tushes in seats.
    5. Celebrate families – Let your employees know their kids and families are your concern and interest too.

    I think my colleague here at Challenge Consulting summed up this topic best, as a result of the combination of Australia’s low birth rate, low unemployment rates and ageing population, Australia is going to have to really embrace flexibility in the workforce. In my opinion work/life balance is still very much paid “lip service” and very few organisations truly embrace the concept. I think the simple adage of “work to live, not live to work” sums it up. We all just need to learn to live it.

    How do you learn to live it? How have you created a work-life balance in your life?

     


  4. Do you prefer to drive to work or take public transport?

    May 29, 2012 by Jenna

    Ah the joys of the morning commute. I posted last week’s poll to get a general idea of how many of you out there prefer to fight the traffic battle in the morning on the way to work or whether you like the fight the crowds on the bus, ferry or train on the way into work.

    When I often tell people that I live about an hour outside of work I watch as their faces tend to cringe and the response will usually be, ‘how do you put up with the travel into work?’ or ‘Have you ever thought of living closer to the city?’ And my response is always the same, ‘I really don’t mind. I enjoy where I live as opposed to where I work, I find a good balance, and if I have a good book or music to listen to , the morning commute is fine.

    Of course that is not what goes through my head on the days when the announcement comes on the train that says something along the lines of, ‘Attention all passengers, due to a technical failure/a police incident at blah blah station/an emergency situation/a passenger jumping from the platform, etc. your train will be delayed or cancelled for today. Cityrail apologises for any inconvenience caused…‘ And of course depending on what the schedule is like for the day, it is often a MAJOR inconvenience.

    At the same time, this is my only option as I don’t drive. And when I think of the cost of a vehicle, insurance, petrol and the cost of parking, I often think to myself, why bother! My workplace is across the street from the station, my home is two minutes from the station. So regardless of those unexpected incidents with public transport, I tend to think I’m in a Win/Win situation.

    However, I know that not everyone has the same situation and this is what your responses were:

    • 33% of you prefer driving to work
    • 55% of you take either the train or bus into work
    • 11% of you do a combination of driving and taking public transport into work

    I also appreciated the valid responses as well:

    • When attending my office in the city, I catch the train as traffic and parking are ridiculous! But when attending a client’s office in the suburbs I drive.
    • Having to work late frequently, it is more convenient and comfortable to jump in the car and drive home after work.  Having said that, I do not enjoy the traffic jams in the morning!
    • Can read and work on the train. Reliable and cheap too

    With that said, I can understand if you need to travel within short distances or to an area outside of the public transport zone then I would certainly say a car would be more reliable, but I also have to agree, does traffic add on more stress to your day?

    A website called www.lifehak.com advises that the use of public transportation can save your sanity and improve your productivity in the following ways:

    • Saving your money – how much does your car really cost you in the course of a year?
    • Saving your time – once you are driving, your hands and mind are fully occupied, on public transport, your time is your own.
    • Saving your sanity – how often do you lose your temper when you are stuck in slow traffic?
    • Saving yourself – how much more exercise can you get in the day running for a train or bus?
    • Saving the world – much better for the environment in the long run

    Another website called workawesom.com lists four main reasons to take public transport over driving:

    • Found time – more time reading, working, or napping if needed
    • Save the earth and some cash – as above, good for the environment and costs less per week
    • Employer benefits – employers will sometimes partially or even fully reimburse you for transit costs depending on the work related task.
    • Market research – needing statistical information from the general public, there is no better way to find like minded individuals to chat to or observe then on the train or bus.

    Besides time, one of the other major factors appears to be costs. Now I know this can be dependant on where you live, and whether or not you need to rely on a car or not to get around, but you could be saving thousands of dollars a year by taking public transport. Not to mention, have you seen the cost of parking within the central city CBD? It’s great if you have a company car space, but let’s be honest, how many of us genuinely have that?

    Well my vote is for public transport, not to be biased as I do like being the car passenger, especially on more remote trips that are outside of the city. But travelling into work, I would prefer to have my time then have to stress and worry before even arriving to work!

    Haven’t had your say? Why not add a comment below, we would love to hear from you. Otherwise we have a new online poll this week, which was created by my colleague Susan Kealy, ‘How do you feel about personality tests?’ – why not participate and be in the draw to enjoy a great night out at the movies? The results will be revealed next week, stay tuned!

     




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