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Secrets to achieving work-life balance

Published on Thursday, 10 Jun 2010
Betty Leong (left) with Stanley Suen, SCMP’s director of Recruitment Services, and Winnie Chiu at the Career Building Seminar.
Photo: Felix Wong
Winnie Chiu at the Career Building Seminar.
Photo: Felix Wong

Ways to accomplish more in a stressful environment, effective time management, achieving goals through strong interpersonal relationships, and nurturing the four roots to happiness are the secrets to accomplishing more and maintaining a work-life balance, says Winnie Chiu, a senior consultant at Right Management.

To accomplish more, it is vital to build strong relationships at work, home and with friends, says Chiu, the keynote speaker at the first "Career Building Seminar" hosted by Classified Post.

Individuals should engage in meaningful activities and things they enjoy doing. Efforts should be made to maintaining value consistency to ensure one's values are aligned with what one does for a living.

"Balance your life on strong personal foundations by focusing time and energy on relationships and meaningful activities," she says.

The four roots of happiness are: love, food, exercise and serenity. "Love is the experience of new meaning, purpose and promise through intimacy with oneself and others. Love what you do and do what you love," she adds.

"Serenity is the ability to create calmness and well-being." Regular exercise helps enhance physical fitness, and food is about feeding oneself well, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Citing a survey, Chiu says that employees in Hong Kong work on average 48.8 hours every week and more than 70 per cent of them spend less than two hours on their personal daily lives. The Hong Kong workforce spends 21 per cent more time than the 40-hour, five-day work week recommended by the International Labour Organisation. "About 7.8 per cent of employees do not spend any time at all on their personal life per day," Chiu says.

She advises individuals to regularly review their personal lives by understanding their purpose in life, and assessing how satisfied they are with life in general, including finance, achievements, family, friends and work. "Self-awareness is important. The values and goals in the `wheel of life' change at different life stages," Chiu adds. Citing Stephen Covey's "see, do, get" concept, Chiu says how we see the world influences our attitudes, behaviour and what we do, which in turn determines the results we get.

For many people in Hong Kong, work-life balance remains a "dream", says Betty Leong, another speaker at the seminar. She believes our roles and goals in life change with various stages, and they are shaped by our personal orientation.

"In identifying our goals, we should accept the need to focus and be prepared to shift the focus. Learn to accept imperfection," says Leong, who is the general manager of investment property at MTR Corporation.

Apart from time management, planning and prioritisation, Leong recommends getting some "guilty pleasure" through things that cheer us up, clearly defining tasks at work, differentiating between urgent and important tasks, and having clearly defined roles in an organisation.

"The key is self-actualisation and self-achievement. After prioritisation, we should try to achieve mutual involvement," she says.

"It is about managing expectations. We need to seek a mutual understanding of the stakeholders, including our bosses and families." 

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