You and your business : Work Life Balance
Tips and advice for achieving a work/life balance
Many tradespeople working in the construction sector don’t typically follow the traditional 9 - 5 working day, with most having a fairly unstructured work schedule with no set hours or days. But while many of you will take satisfaction out of having the ability to work flexibly, this lack of structure can make it difficult to keep track of how much you are actually working.
From time spent travelling to jobs or nipping to the local builders’ merchant to pick up a packet of nails, to taking a call in the evening to schedule a new job or ensuring your books are up to date, you can quickly spend more time working than you actually think.
However, this ‘mission creep’, especially when it goes unnoticed, can soon see you skewing your work/life balance – it’s not uncommon for tradespeople to work a six-day week, leaving just a single day for rest. But while the question of how much you work in a week is up to you – and most of the time is demand driven – overworking is not healthy.
Those that do overwork are more likely to experience reduced wellbeing and miss out on spending valuable time with their family and friends. It’s fair to say that, for tradespeople, achieving a balance between delivering customer-satisfaction and ensuring you have time to rest, relax and pursue other interests can be challenging. So, with that in mind what steps can you take to have a healthy work/life balance?
Track your time
The first thing to consider should be implementing some form of time management system that factors in all those minutes dedicated towards getting the job done and running a successful business. Something as basic as a spreadsheet where you record everything from travel time, through to buying supplies will highlight just how much work you are doing and enable you to monitor when you are doing too much.
Factor in the favours – and put limits on them
‘I was just wondering….’ four words that every tradesman is all too familiar with hearing, which often pre-empt a family or friend request for a ‘quick favour’. While these jobs might only take an hour, it is nonetheless work and, given you’ll almost certainly end up doing them for the pricey sum of a beer, you shouldn’t be afraid to push back – either saying no or scheduling them for when you haven’t got as much on rather than doing them at the weekend.
If you are tracking your time you will be able to do this more effectively; if the hours are stacking up put it off for a week or two, if it’s a quiet spell do it in the normal working day rather than in your free-time.
Limit your technology
Technology is crucial to your business, enabling you to advertise and market your services but you should be careful not to let it take over your life. Mobile phones buzzing all day can be distracting and take time away from the job at hand – and equally, those 9pm calls to book a job can eat into your downtime.
While technology provides fuel for your business it can equally be responsible for a blurring of lines between work and leisure time. If you're on a job don’t be afraid to let the phone ring through to voicemail while you focus on the task in hand – this will enable you to work more efficiently. Equally, set a reasonable cut-off point in the evening when you will stop answering work calls and emails. To achieve this, it may be worth investing in a separate work mobile to establish a clearer line between work and personal time.
Nothing worthwhile is easy
Working as a tradesperson undoubtedly makes balancing working hard and playing hard difficult. But as the old saying goes ‘nothing worthwhile is easy’ – and achieving a work life balance is worthwhile for your health and overall wellbeing. If you have your own tips for doing this please share them with us – we’d love to hear them over on Twitter @eurocellplc