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A Definitive Guide To Finding A Job With Good Work Life Balance

Work life balance. The buzz word we love to hear but for many it’s merely a fabrication. Although the term itself is grossly overused (I actually prefer work/life integration) we all seek a lifestyle where work and family play in harmony. Imagine a lovely green field with life and work skipping along into the sun set.

But how does one gain a great work/life balance where forced work doesn’t overshadow fulfilment in life? Corporate America especially is extremely overworked estimating an extra 10 hours a week over other countries.

How does one beat this? Well achieving balance isn’t easy and is not possible for us all. Some jobs just don’t lend themselves to work/life balance. It’s something the case that you’re the wrong guy in the wrong career. For those graduates looking to head into a career then the best tip is to choose wisely. If you need a little bit more context then here’s my definitive guide to finding a job with great work life balance.

Choose the right career:Good Work Life Balance

Some careers just do not cater for work life balance. Investment bankers, stock brokers and doctors command a significant amount of hours and time within the work environment.

Most people struggle with work life balance purely because the job doesn’t facilitate such a lifestyle. If you’re about to venture into a career then look at jobs which offer flexibility. Digital marketing careers are fantastic for this as you can pretty much work anytime from anywhere.

Once you are into a career it’s hard to make it work for you if it’s not ‘industry practice’. Web based roles however are extremely adaptable as they have been brought to fruition by millennials who seek such balance.

Set your attitude in the beginning:

Knowing what you want to achieve within an organisation also helps with estabishing work life balance. Those who constantly work more hours than their contracted hours will struggle to then retain any type of balance as they will become accustom to the hours they are working (as will the management team!)

When first arriving in a job it’s best to set a standard of how you will work and when you will work until. Of course there will be exceptions when things are extremely busy but by setting an early expectation you manage the people around you and manage your own balance.

If your attitude is to work your contracted hours and go home then the best strategy is to work without distraction throughout the day to meet your deliverables.

Gauge company culture at interview stage:

It’s 2013 yet some companies still judge your productivity at work by how many hours you are sat at your desk. It may take you until the interview stage but gauge the company culture before making any decisions about employment. ‘Does it look like a company who will let me work my hours and go home?’ ‘Is it the type of company who will embrace balance?’ Ask yourself these questions before you sign any contracts.

Some companies expect the world from their employees and will judge you against the ball breakers who devote every ounce of energy to the company. You may be the most productive individual in the business when in the office but because you’re not clocking in at 7am and still slurping on caffeine at 7pm you’re judged.

If balance is as important to you as it is to me then you would stay well away from a company like this. Use smart questions when it matters most.

Subliminal questioning on management:

Similar to above it’s also a good idea to use subliminal questioning of the manager. The HR department may preach all the write gospel but the hiring manager may be the boss from hell. It happens and it’s good to make a decision on someones personality before it’s too late. If balance is important to you then you definitely don’t want the manager who sends you the ‘red exclamation’ email at 4:55pm when clocking off is 5pm.

I always look for managers who i can connect with on a personal level who are interested in hearing about my life. If you find a manager like that then they will understand when you show a defined balance between your home and work life.

Know your limits:

There’s always limitations to work life balance and despite the heads of some huge organisations saying they have ‘respectable’ work life balance this doesn’t happen. It’s just glorified PR.

Knowing your limits within the workplace is imperative to achieving work life balance. Want to be the CEO of Coca Cola? I would hazard a guess that he/she doesn’t have the best balance in life. You have to be REALISTIC with the type of job you can gain and still lead a healthy home life.  It’s not right but it’s reality that a number of the top CEO’s and senior managers have terrible balance when it comes to switching off from work. I spoke with a former senior manager who said they would regularly take calls at 11pm and then again at 5am! That doesn’t leave much time for sleeping or quality time with the loved ones.

If you want to be good at life then be realistic with what role you want to achieve.

Ask for clarification on the role:

Further to knowing your limits it’s great to ask for clarification on a role before you take it. Some companies add on extra expectations or demands after you have accepted the role. Make sure you have your business deliverables clearly defined and are comfortable with what is required from you.

There will be a level of flexibility with this of course however if one of the clients is based on the West Coast of America and can only be called in the afternoon then the whole balance aspect changes dramatically and balance may be subsequently lost.

Make sure the role meets your lifestyle requirements:

Are you a family man? Do you need to pick the children up from school? Do you want to be home to read your child a bedtime story? Most modern day men do want this so the job role needs to meet these lifestyle requirements.

The job has to be adaptable around life scheduling. It’s not as easy as choosing a job and hoping they let you leave early on a Thursday. The role has to accommodating for life or at least the company does.

Use your working time wisely:

Procrastination is a huge productivity drainer within the office. How many hours have you wasted chatting with people about a new movie? It happens in all offices across the globe and is one of the biggest culprits for working over your contracted hours.

A simple tip for achieving balance is to be absolutely SHIT HOT when you are in the office. Make it your priority to work at the best of your ability across your contracted hours; using lunch breaks to regroup and then hit the schedule again for the afternoon.

Those who typically over work are involved in too many unnecessary processes within the office or have too many ‘throwaway’ conversations. Limit these and you will limit your overtime as you will deliver within your working day. You are then free to clock off at the right time as you have appropriately used your working day!

Striving for balance:

The strive for balance is an act of having a vision and a career, management team and business which see’s that vision. In most circumstances there are factors which pull against this balance. A difficult boss, a career which doesn’t cater for such a lifestyle. It’s important that these factors are minimised if your goal is to lead a prosperous career but one which doesn’t impact on your quality time with family and friends.

The decisions you make with your career will impact greatly on whether you can find a job with great work life balance. Good luck!


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About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog GenerationY.com was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.


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