Georgia Duffee explains how a flexible approach to work helped her recover from overwork and rebuild her resilience, and how you can follow her example.
Six weeks before surrendering to the stress of significant work-life imbalance (by leaving my nine to five, and beginning my own flexible working firm) I attended thought-provoking seminar by the accounting charity CABA called ‘Building Resilience’. I left the seminar with a powerful thought: “You are more than an accountant”.
When you meet someone new if your introduction is “Hello, I’m John and I’m an accountant”, then you really need to reflect on whether you want your job to be the only definition of who you are.
How would it feel to say this instead: “Hello, I’m John, I’m a father of two, I like fishing and spending my time in the garden”. What do you do for work? “Accountancy.”
Without work-life balance, the above statement becomes so significant. With balance then accountancy becomes something you do alongside gardening, exercising, seeing family, cooking, relaxing and an ongoing list of ways you may enjoy spending your time.
When I first embraced flexible working as my way to gain balance, I planned my weeks diligently to allow for everything I wanted to do. Firstly by identifying the hobbies which had stopped, the dreams which had never even begun and the family I wanted to see more. This provided a good structure of how I wanted to fill my week.
Secondly, I identified how many hours I needed to spend at work. In the initial months my priorities were slowing down my pace, forming hobbies and seeing family because I needed to recover from the imbalance to date and rebuild my resilience
Over time my work schedule changed and the perfect harmony between my work and my life came with the working hours of 11am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
I know other accountants who work 9:30am to 2:30pm to allow for being a parent, also those who have chosen to work Tuesday to Thursday so they always have a long weekend. Everyone will have a different routine required for a perfect balance and nine to five, Monday to Friday doesn’t suit us all.
When you regain control through flexible working, you must study the time you have, the obligations you want to fulfil and allow your own week to work for you.
If you have a team, you must respectfully communicate with each other regarding time, and freely allow your staff to decide what time they want to allocate for work, around their own life – productivity becomes the measure of trust when your team are working a different routine to yours.
Make sure you have a shared calendar – and you all know when each other will be working, and respect their time off when they’re not.
Time management is the key to successful flexible working. Planning each week in advance allows you to maintain control, planning each day in advance allows you to increase productivity and in turn job satisfaction. This will leave you feeling accomplished after a days work, satisfied and ready to switch off from work, and onto your next plan for the day.
Constant reevaluation is necessary to leverage the benefits of flexible working, a routine you have one week, may not suit you the next – but that’s the beauty of having control of your working day.
Have a think about your current resilience levels at work, and whether you feel like you have more strings to your bow than “being an accountant”.
If not, why not analyse the specific things you will:
- Start doing
- Stop doing
- Continue doing
To help you build your resilience, balance, and overall quality of life.