Stop The Clock: Striking A Comfortable Work-Life Balance

When starting a new job, one of the first things you’ll be told about is your working hours – when you are expected to start, when you finish and how long your breaks will be.

Needless to say, being punctual is of vital importance and, you should be at your desk ready to work at the allotted time, not rushing out of the lift or frantically willing your bus on to the final stop. However, things happen and employees are usually understanding if you are late on the occasion – as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

Similarly, you should always be mindful of the time during your breaks to avoid gaining a reputation of taking advantage.  

However, it’s important not to go too far the other way and work far beyond your hours – particularly if you aren’t offered overtime so are essentially working for free. You’ve probably heard people describe somebody as ‘always first in and last out’ – usually in reverential tones, suggesting that working far beyond their contracted hours makes them a superior employee but, is that really the case?

A question of time

There will usually be the odd time in any job where you are required to stay late to help finish an urgent project or during extremely busy periods but this shouldn’t necessarily be the norm.

When setting out your working hours, the company is, essentially, stating that this is the time it will take you each day to do your job properly.  Those who find that they genuinely have to stay late every day in order to complete their tasks should be examining why it is that they need more time and, if necessary, enlisting the help of a superior in prioritising their workload.

It may be that you find yourself taking on projects or tasks which are not strictly within your job description, in which case, this again, should be brought up with a line manager or supervisor.

You won’t ‘impress the boss’

It may be that you find yourself staying late for no reason other than the fact that everybody else does.  In a bid to ‘impress the boss’, some employees will work beyond their hours even when there is little need to do so.  

This, unfortunately, creates its own cycle whereby nobody wants to be the first to leave (even though a quick glance at colleague’s screens reveal that they are on Facebook or catching up with the latest in the lives of the Kardashians, rather than actually working).

Contrary to popular belief, an employee who consistently stays late is seen as somebody who is unable to complete their work on time, rather than just a hard worker and you should feel free to break the mould.  

When your allotted ‘home time’ arrives, spend five minutes tidying your desk and ensuring that your computer is switched off and then say your goodbyes.  

Although it may be tempting, resist the urge to ‘justify’ your departure with an appointment, travel schedule or personal issue.  Within a short time, it’s likely that you will see some of your colleagues follow suit.

Although its great to be flexible within your job, remember that when issuing you a contract, the company is paying for your time. Unless you are receiving overtime pay,  you are not being paid beyond your hours.

We spend 40 hours a week working, plus time commuting to work. Having a work-life balance is important for our wellbeing. Time is precious; allow yourself time off from working.

Inspiring Interns specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.