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4 Ways Overworked Singaporeans Can Create Work-Life Balance For Themselves

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Joanne Poh

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Singaporean workplaces are generally not known for the fantastic work-life balance they offer. In fact, a recent news report revealed that more and more Singaporeans are feeling unahppy about poor work-life balance.

While employers certainly have a part to play in not working their employees to death and not pressuring their workers to show their faces for long hours, employees also have a part to play by not spending the entire afternoon toggling between Facebook and their spreadsheets, or disappearing for 3 hour lunches and then complaining about having to stay back late. Here are four ways employees can do their part to achieve better work-life balance.

 

Work efficiently

To be brutally honest, Singaporeans aren’t the most efficient of workers. Sure, there are some diligent worker bees who truly are drowning in 5 people’s worth of work. But for every employee who actually spends the entire day working, you get 5 more who while away parts of the day gossiping with the other aunties in the office, surreptitiously surfing Facebook when the boss’s back is turned, getting lost in the world of Whatsapp chat groups and sneaking off to buy kopi multiple times during the day. And if you’re working together with those people, this might end up slowing you down as well.

If only Singaporeans could just focus on working efficiently enough to clear everything in their in-tray as fast as possible, more people might actually end up leaving the office on time.

 

Learn how to say no

There’s a reason Singaporeans coined the term “arrow”. People with responsibilities to handle often cleverly try to offload their duties onto others who must then try to dodge these arrows as nimbly as possible.

If you find yourself constantly being made the target of arrows to the point where you’re overworked or bogged down by worthless duties for which you receive no credit, the art of diplomatically saying no is one you must master. Whether you’re trying to refuse to take on your colleague’s work so he can spend the rest of his day dreaming or avoid being made the head of the company’s social committee, learn how to politely say no way.

 

Get better at your job

The learning curve when you first start a new job might be steep, but many employees just never bother trying to get better even after the first few months, and that slows them down and affects their efficiency.

The clueless customer service officer who takes ten minutes to answer every question and that incompetent admin assistant who does the simplest tasks infuriatingly inefficiently are all making their own working lives more miserable and more time-consuming by not mastering their jobs. Getting better at your job often also makes you faster at it, and that can cut your working hours.

 

Make plans after work

I used to have a colleague who stayed at the office till 10pm every day chatting with whomever was still around. Once, he asked me quizzically why I always left on the dot. “What is there to do at 5:30pm anyway?” he said, eyes filled with confusion. Well, I could have told him that the reason he preferred to hang around the office till late at night was the fact that he didn’t have anything better to do after work.

If you’re the sort of person whose post-work schedule features Channel 8 dramas at home, which are even more painful than an extra 5 hours of work, you need to start scheduling something fun that forces you to leave the office at a decent hour. Sign up for a class, ask someone out on a date or make plans to get sloshed at a bar. If you were previously practically living at the office, it might be disorienting coming face to face with the outside world once again, but you’ll get used to it.

How do you achieve work-life balance? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.