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Adapting to the ‘Next Normal’: Australian Businesses Prepare for a Relaxation of COVID-19 Restrictions

With the Federal Government announcing their three-stage plan to restarting the Australian economy, businesses around the country are eagerly awaiting a return to “normal” work after COVID-19. However, what will this post-pandemic environment look like, and ho.....

Strategy - 6 min read

Hustle culture is on the rise. And with modern communications, achieving work-life balance can seem impossible. We interrupt conversations to respond to work requests and notifications, and we squeeze work in on Saturdays when we’d planned to relax. Life can feel like a hamster wheel that won’t stop turning.

Back in 1948, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court officially approved the 40-hour, 5-day working week in Australia. At the time, the public push commonly included the number “888,” which stood for the daily ideal: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of sleep.

Today, the ideal balance seems to have eluded most Australians. Census data from 2016 shows that 2 in 5 people work beyond the 8-hour mark each day, and the average adult Aussie sleeps about 7 hours each night. Why has work expanded and pushed so far into our rest and play? More importantly, what can we do to restore balance?

 

Unplug

Technology has made life easier in so many ways. Need an answer to a question? You no longer have to walk or drive to the library and look it up in a book. Google it on your phone and move on with life in a matter of seconds.

But the powerful technologies that make life more comfortable can also upset your work-life balance. Constant accessibility has created expectations that we should always be available to others. The workday never seems to end.

Robert Brooks, professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, says, “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment.” When? Try these:

 
  • Dinner with family or friends
  • Children’s sport events
  • When you’re working out
  • Quality downtime
 

When you have quiet moments of your own, you can decompress, refocus and allow your mind to rejuvenate before diving back into your work.

 

Reject Perfectionism

Overachievers tend to develop tendencies toward perfectionism without even realising it. Instead of finishing a project and letting it go, you might find yourself endlessly tweaking and adding to it.

Marilyn Puder-York, author of The Office Survival Guide, wrote, “As life gets more expanded, it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going.” Instead of trying to make everything perfect, strive for excellence. Your stress level will fall as your confidence rises.

 

Waste Less Time

Sometimes, we find ourselves working into the night because we squandered time earlier in the day. If email or internet surfing extends your workday, establish rules for yourself to stay on task. Productivity software like Freedom and LeechBlock can help you set parameters and then be accountable for your time.

You might also want to think about limiting interactions with people who suck up too much of your time. If you get cornered by the office chatterbox, politely excuse yourself. You will have reclaimed precious time that can then be spent tackling your priorities. What if your mates ask you out for drinks, but you’re already tired? Take care of yourself and give your body the rest it needs.

 

Exercise

Most of us sit way too much. We sit in front of computers while we work, and we sit as we travel to and from the office. Our bodies weren’t designed to be so sedentary, so balance them out with a good dose of exercise each day. Researchers from the University of Sydney, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Loughborough University in the UK found that office workers need to exercise for 150-300 minutes per week (20-40 minutes each day) to “eliminate sitting risks.”

A brisk walk in the middle of your workday can help keep your muscles and joints supple. Enjoy some fresh air, and feel your balance come back to the centre.

 

Evaluate the Structure of Your Life

Our days are so busy that we adopt habits and stay in ruts without thinking about why we do what we do. Try to take a bird’s eye view of your life and consider how you could restructure your life to create more harmony and balance.

Could you delegate some of your household tasks to children or hire out some of the work? Could you work remotely for one day a week to cut down on your commute? Could you outsource some of your business tasks so you can focus on the aspects of your business that you enjoy most? By asking questions like these, you may be able to restore balance and give your schedule some breathing room.

Author and businesswoman Arianna Huffington said, “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” You may not achieve the 888 ideal put forth by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in 1948, but with adjustments here and there, you can achieve a work-life balance that helps you succeed.

 

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