Work stress is a huge problem in Australia.
In an article on news.com.au entitled Australia’s deadly workplace crisis: Hidden epidemic in job world, the author observes:
The pressure is building in our daily lives, with a cocktail of stress, financial issues, job insecurity and isolation literally killing us.
It goes on to say how a “psychologically demanding workplace, combined with employees not having much control over what they do minute to minute, day to day” is contributing to the suicide crisis around the country.
The average Australian full-time worker works over 43 hours a week: one of the highest in the developed world. We also get less annual leave than in many European countries, such as Denmark and Norway.
And, in figures from The Australia Institute, almost five million Australians find it hard to take their annual leave when they want to.
This is all pointing to an unhealthy picture of overwork, lack of free time, stress, and poor mental and physical health.
How can we start to redress this imbalance? What steps can we take to introduce more work-life-balance and a greater sense of wellbeing?
The following five steps are a great starting point…
1. Recognise time as a precious commodity
In a previous post we discussed how time is your most precious commodity going into some detail about why time is so valuable.
Yet many people do not treat it with the respect it deserves. They do not adequately plan their time and end up reacting to events in daily life and ‘going with the flow’.
In the long run, this means that less time is paid to the important things in life (family, loved ones, relationships, lifestyle, goals) and we get sucked into trivialities or things that seem urgent but do not get us any nearer to the life we want to be living.
The way you manage your time is a choice. If you choose to work yourself into the ground, you will never have the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour and may not be alive long enough to enjoy any retirement.
2. Trade time for money wherever possible
We live in an ‘outsource economy’. We should use this in our personal lives to free up time wherever possible.
People are used to paying others to babysit, clean the car, do the gardening, or clean the house. Yet we ignore some of the areas that cause the most stress in life, like our finances.
Despite the fact that many people do not have the financial nous to effectively manage their personal finances, they plod on regardless making the same mistakes.
The outcome? A situation of living day-to-day, month-to-month, with no money for unexpected expenses that may crop up: this alone is enough to stress anybody out.
Many such people earn enough money to be building real wealth for the future rather than worrying about paying bills.
By simply outsourcing the payment of bills, and financial goal management you can make gains with your stress levels as well as avoiding late fees and other unnecessary expenses.
3. Use technology as an enabler
Most people use email for their work, one way or another. But do you remember when that wasn’t the case?
Some of you may be old enough to remember how much more difficult communication was before email, instant messaging, chat programs, and the like. It felt like it was much harder to be productive.
The point here is that technology is the ‘great enabler’. It allows us to work smarter and more productively.
If you get too bogged down in too much technology, it can start to swamp you and make you less effective in your work. But keep on top of the possibilities out there and you will find opportunities to free up time and make your life a little easier.
4. Take the pressure off…
A lot of the overwork, stress, and lack of time spent in pursuing wider goals is down to poor management of personal finances.
If you are constantly concerned about not having enough, you will likely try to work harder for a promotion, work longer hours for more pay, take a second job, or do something else that involves more time away from doing what you want to do.
Often, a simple review of your personal finances can relieve some of the financial pressure and reduce the perceived importance of doing more work.
Work a little smarter with your finances by reviewing your expenditure, setting some clear and attainable financial goals, and trimming the fat off your monthly outgoings. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes.
5. Slow down
You don’t have to learn meditation – though feel free to do so – but it does help if you are able to force yourself to slow down once in a while.
Did you know that there is even such a thing as the Slow Movement, which aims to combat time poverty? It sees the problems with stress that time-poor individuals are susceptible to, and aims to help them slow their lives down so that they can enjoy their time more.
This goes hand-in-hand with downsizing (think tiny homes), living simpler lifestyles, and eating simpler organic foods.
It is possible to be successful AND to know how to relax and achieve work-life balance – if you are able to take more control of your time.
At Bill Butler, we can help you with several of the above steps; by outsourcing bill payment, relieving the financial pressures with a review of your personal finances, and using the available technology, you will start to work smarter and freer of stress.
The benefits of these simple changes to the rest of your life are almost limitless.
Co-founder and Head of Product Development
Having financial clarity, getting your personal finances under control and heading where you want is like having a super power. My goal is to give every Australian access to this superpower. I also love camping, great food and hanging out with my family and friends.