Finding that all important work-life balance as an accountant
One topic that comes up a lot in discussion with our students is how to manage the demands of work, study and personal life. Yet even when the exams are […]
One topic that comes up a lot in discussion with our students is how to manage the demands of work, study and personal life. Yet even when the exams are over, those conflicting priorities still cause a headache for many accountants, so it’s good to learn a few balancing techniques as early as possible.
Research from Accountancy Age reveals that more than a third (36%) of ICAEW members are unhappy with how they balance work and home life. The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has certainly become prominent over recent years, yet the more we hear about it, the more impossible it seems. We’re tired, unproductive, and endless statistics tell us how little time we have due to work pressures. So what can we do about it?
It’s now commonplace to check emails on an evening or weekend, and many of us stay late in the office on a regular basis. But each of us have the power to not do this. You decide where you draw the line between work time, study time and personal time. Turn that phone off if you have to, and don’t even think about making excuses for not replying to something work-related out of hours.
For students in particular we recommend ringfencing some specific time each week to have for you – whether that’s going to the gym, catching up on television or spending quality time with family, it’s important to have at least some time completely away from your work or study to keep that sense of balance.
Managing the ‘always on’ culture
Advancements in technology mean we’re often expected to be more productive, more contactable, and more efficient. Our mobile phones and laptops have opened the door to continuous emails and updates, meaning there’s no way for us to truly leave work, particularly in a mental capacity.
Whilst it’s undeniable that employers must take responsibility for their employees’ wellbeing, it’s also the responsibility of the employee to utilise their own skillset and keep their work-life balance in check. That means you keeping a firm eye on your down-time. Doing so creates a clear boundary between your home and work life, as by keeping them mentally separate, they can illicit different emotional reactions.
Find enough time in your day to eat healthily, rehydrate and get fresh air: these simple measures can easily all be incorporated into a lunch break. Exercise can be especially beneficial as it relieves tension, releasing feel-good endorphins and improving or stabilising your mood. Plus, it makes you more productive. Taking a rest to supercharge your afternoon can pay dividends.
Time for change
Although the UK has enjoyed its largest jump in productivity for a decade, it is imperative that something changes. 1 in 3 employees think about quitting their position on a regular basis, and 13% admit to feeling stressed at least once a day, showing how our work lives are negatively affecting us.
So, it’s time to take control. This means setting boundaries and sticking to them, to help yourself as much as possible. No one can work long hours consistently, so if you want to climb to the top of the career ladder, listen to your body, take a rest and use your energy in concerted bursts of effort.
If we try to integrate our work and personal life in a responsible and reasonable way, we won’t only benefit ourselves, we’ll benefit those we care about and the company we work for too.
For those that may want some assistance in looking after themselves, the CABA have recently launched new wellbeing courses for ACA students and ICAEW members, so do have a look at what’s on offer. We also recommend keeping dialogue open with your employer to get the balance right for you.