Top tips to improve work life balance

Stephen O'Brien 10.10.2017

Following the Women in Tech Event, here's the highlights of the work-life balance talk from Trish Long, the General Manager and Vice President of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Ireland.

Last week my colleagues Marguerite Maher, Louise O Neill and I attended the Women in Tech Event in The Kinsley Hotel. Around 70+ women attended the event and we had the pleasure of listening to  special guest speaker Trish Long.
Trish, a very successful business woman, spoke about how she climbed the ladder, and the decisions that led her to where she is today. Although one challenge she faced like us all, is how to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.

Does work life balance really exist?

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy medium between both and it’s an issue most workers stress about at some point in their life.
Working on the IT recruitment desk I speak with business analysts and project managers everyday who face deadlines, budgets, working in different time zones and keeping up with the latest technologies. It’s not an easy job and it can be challenging to learn how to stay focused and keep work issues at work and spend your time off doing things you enjoy and dedicating time to your friends and family. However, that is easier said than done.
Trish made a very interesting comparison - work-life balance is like juggling. There are five balls family, health, friends, work and spirit. Work is a rubber ball, if you drop it will come back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be scuffed, nicked, marked, damaged or completely broken.
While you’re at work, giving your 100% and being productive is necessary allowing you to switch off when you are at home. Successful IT professionals don’t work around the clock either. The people who are succeeding value their personal time and see taking a step back from their work as an essential component of their success. Many people tend to work long hours but they’re not always fully focused.

Here are my top three tips to improve work life balance:

1. Find your own rhythm.

The best way to be productive is to establish healthy work habits that align with your natural temperament. Some people work best under deadlines where others crack, other people need to chip away at projects over time. Develop an awareness as to what suits you best and develop your habits accordingly.

2. Get organised.

Developing good organisational skills in your work is simple and has a powerful benefit. You tend to get more work done overall with less time and effort, which will give you more time outside of work for the things you enjoy doing: family, friend and hobbies etc. 

3. Be open about your needs.

You can assume that others will guess what makes you feel balanced or fulfilled. Employees need to have a good relationship with their managers and need to be able to communicate if there are other priorities outside of work like catching up with family. Obviously different jobs have different requirements be everyone can benefit from having an honest conversation. 
Some weeks are really busy and other weeks are quiet. Work life flow was another term Trish used. Learning how to flow with your work schedule and prioritise it. Overall I think it is about how to ride the waves and trying not to over control your agenda.
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