About worklife balance - what is worklife balance and how do you get it?

Do you identify with any of these statements?

Struggling to balance

“I have seen my family grow up without me!!!”

Jill

“...huge reduction in social life due to work at home (I regularly work more hours outside of college than I am contracted to work each week)”

John

“I am an English teacher and my workload has a direct impact on my health and wellbeing. I struggle to switch off and get to sleep at night and I have to persuade my husband to take the kids out over the weekend so I can get my marking done.”

Leslie

“...weekends are planned around work. No time to walk in the park, bake a cake or just switch off!”

Maya

“Not sleeping, too much wine, too tired to enjoy ‘down time’, no family time, very little contact with friends.”

Rachel

“I shout and swear at home because I feel unheard and unsupported at work, so it is destroying my relationship with my family. I have to work on a Saturday to get just the basic planning done and in the evenings, so I hardly ever see my 3 year old daughter and that is making me depressed and that I’m a bad mum.”

Michelle

(Quotes taken from the TSN Health and Wellbeing survey 2011. Names have been changed)

If you recognised yourself in any of these statements, you might want to look at how you balance your work life with your life outside of school or college. If you have not done so already, you might benefit from looking at our section on managing workload. [link]

Work-life balance is notoriously difficult. According to findings from the Office of National Statistics, almost one in two (48.4 per cent) of adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain report a relatively low satisfaction with their work-life balance. This can be particularly the case for people in education. Teachers do 20% of their work (10 hours or more) before school, after 6pm or on weekends.** This can have a dramatic impact on a teacher’s life. One teacher told us:

“I had completely lost my boundaries, I didn’t know where my job ended and myself started. It had all become this glutinous, amorphous thing.”

Unlike most other professions, teachers feel a responsibility to their colleagues, pupils, students and schools even when they are not working. 59% of teachers who responded to a Teacher Support Network survey confirmed that they had adapted their behaviour outside of school, because they thought it would impact on their role within school. (TSN 2011)

Effects of poor worklife balance

Teachers who responded to a Teacher Support Network survey on the impact of workload on their health and wellbeing (TSN 2011), listed the following side effects of poor worklife balance in three main areas:

Personal life

  • poor relationships
  • poor social life
  • detachment from others
  • lack of time with children
  • lack of time with friends

Health

  • exhaustion
  • anxiety
  • sickness in holidays
  • absence from work
  • loss of voice
  • panic attacks
  • infertility

Wellbeing

  • no exercise
  • lack of sleep
  • lack of control
  • short-tempered
  • loss of confidence
  • poor quality of life

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your GP or a health care professional.

What can I do about it?

As with your workload, there will always be discussions on how to achieve the perfect balance between your work life and your home life, but ultimately, it will be up to you to achieve this balance.

One of the difficulties in finding a balance is that the different parts of your lives will require different things from you as your life and your career progress. There will be times, for example, when your personal life will demand more of your time and others times when your work life will need to be the priority. There will also be times when both your work and your personal life will demand your attention. The key is to have strategies and techniques already in place, so that you can maintain a balanced lifestyle.

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From Education Support Partnership