Work is a vital part of my life, and not something I see as a necessary divide. That said, I would not be the person I am if I spent all of my time thinking about nbn!
Balance, in my view, is not about equal parts, but about ensuring you have a healthy mix of interests and are able to find the opportunity to rejuvenate and recharge.
It’s also important to have a sense of purpose beyond one’s role as a parent, an employee, a partner, a sibling, a leader, and a friend.
A sense of purpose contributes to enhanced self-awareness, which helps us get a deeper understanding of our limitations, triggers, strengths, and importantly, our ability to cope in tough circumstances.
We’re all different, which is great, and I don’t profess to have all the answers, but here are some of the things that work for me.
‘Me time’ is time to yourself or time with others on your terms. I read, I write, I enjoy pilates, I walk, I consume media – online and off. I like art. I colour and paint. I dance around the lounge like an idiot with my girls, I love a massage, I enjoy weekend cooking and time with my husband. I find dishes and shopping cathartic. Cleaning too, sometimes.
We can’t do it all every day but we can make the time to do something. Sure there’s always something on, but taking 20 minutes out to read a chapter from a favourite book or jot down some thoughts, an hour for a pedicure or a massage will do more good than harm. And frankly, no one is so important they can’t be missed for an hour. Schedule it in – long gone is the 9-5pm workday so make it work for you.
Family and friendships
Time with family and friends is precious – any mention of work is optional and usually the exception. We take time to catch up with friends, often. Many of our long term friendships are in Melbourne which means cramming in catch ups while traveling, and lots of interstate visitors which is great. We love showing off our home, catching up while exploring Sydney’s foodie havens and beautiful views.
Mine, his, and ours
On weekends (sans visitors), my husband and I have an unspoken arrangement which ensures we both have time to ourselves and time shared. Saturday mornings are mine to myself if I so choose. I can use the morning to work, to go shopping, to have a massage, whatever I like, and he looks after the girls. That said, if I choose to hang out with the family, that’s ok too. The afternoon is his – a man of habit, he usually enjoys a beer and a punt at the local while us girls play. Sunday is family day – whatever we do, we do it together. We juggle the school commitments between us and try to time occasional play dates so we are kid-free and can hang out together.
Exercise is good for mind and body
I try to spend at least an hour a day walking. If the diary allows, I will walk to and/or from work, it’s a half-hour each way and allows me time to process and think through whatever is on my mind.
If I can find the time to leave early on a weekday (you have to make it happen), I’ll extend my walk, otherwise will make time for it on the weekend – Sydney is such a beautiful city to explore by foot, and although I have lived here for more than five years now, I still feel like a tourist when I see those views!
Business and pleasure
Combining your interests with your work life is also a great way to do things. I joined Mentor Walks (www.mentorwalks.com.au) earlier this year which means I can kick off a Friday morning once a month sharing insights with emerging female leaders while pounding the pavement – a great way to start the day, meet new people and learn from each other.
Similarly, I love writing – LinkedIn is a place I share my work experiences and my passions (not necessarily mutually exclusive). As Executive Gender Sponsor at NBN Co, for example, I take the opportunity to write and share views that I am both passionate about and relevant to the conversation in the workplace.
Making a commitment
Motivation can be a challenge for most of us at one time or another. If you are struggling to get out of the house and active, sign up to a distant walkathon or fun run. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but something that will incentivise you to train, develop a habit – it’s half the challenge. And achieving a milestone is personally rewarding.
Be kind to yourself
Earlier this year, I took a creative writing course. I love writing and I love learning so it was enjoyable, but it was on top of a busy workload. It meant I had to make sacrifices. My reading took a backseat. This month I’m doing Coastrek, a 30km walk, in Melbourne so my reading and writing take a backseat. They’re always there to return to though, when time allows, but it’s about knowing how much is too much, and not getting hung up on trying to do everything..
Take time out
Having a holiday on the horizon, even a short break, can be incredibly motivating. Travel is a shared love in our house so we prioritise this above other luxuries but it doesn’t have to be expensive. We plan a big holiday every two years (Lapland at Christmas, Namibian safari, a Canadian road trip) and book well in advance so we have the benefit of a long lead up.
This helps with the finances and gives us all something to be excited about down the track. We take small holidays in between and long weekends to break up the rest of the year including an annual trip with friends to explore NSW.
Look after each other
Leaders are responsible for ensuring their people know their limits, and work within them. Colleagues have a duty to look out for each other too. But no one is more accountable than you. Self-awareness is a skill, as is resilience. Both can be learned and both should be encouraged, at all levels. There is nothing wrong with stretching yourself or your people, pushing them beyond what they think they are capable. This is how we learn and grow. But equally, we need to ensure we are responsible and ensuring a healthy balance. Correct proportions versus equal proportions – these are different for everyone.
Listen to the signs
One thing I know to be true about me is that some days I feel like I can take on the world, and I do. On other days, and sometimes without any clear reason or evident difference, things can pile up and leave me with a sense of being overwhelmed or ‘up against it’. I don’t think I’m alone here and that’s important. Perhaps it’s a combination of work demands with family events, sometimes it’s down to lack of sleep or impending illness, sometimes it’s just the weather. Whatever it is, remember to listen to your body – be open to the signs and don’t be too hard on yourself. Surround yourself with people who will call it out if they see it and listen to them.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, but just some insights into the way I try to ensure balance. Some days it’s harder than others, but every day is better when there’s balance.
nbn was established in 2009 to design, build and operate Australia’s wholesale broadband access network. Underpinned by a purpose to connect Australia and bridge the digital divide, nbn’s key objective is to ensure all Australians have access to fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices, and at least cost.
nbn is a FlexCareers employer partner, offering:
- Clear gender targets with ongoing performance published in our annual report
- Identifying and developing emerging leaders and high potential females across all business areas
- Centralised Women’s Development Network for mentoring, networking and career development
- Informal regional and divisional female networking groups
- Accessibility of executives to women across nbn
- Opportunities for flexible working arrangements for all employees
- Unconscious bias training for all employees
- Ensuring a gender balanced representation of candidates shortlisted for roles, and gender diversity in our interview panels