It’s time to reclaim some balance
In recent times, everyone I’ve spoken to in the development industry is crazy busy. In this hectic climate where clients’ expectations of consultants are at an all-time high, it is easy to fall into the trap of spending long hours at work, skipping meals, neglecting family and most of all putting yourself last. This is particularly relevant to our industry and I believe that all survey professionals need to take some time to ponder why they work in this field, what makes them passionate about their profession, are they working in a supportive working environment, why are they in a relationship/a parent and what makes them happy. Why, you might ask? For perspective!
It is one thing to be a great surveyor and top consultant but if that means it is at the cost of your relationships and health then something is wrong. Balance is important for everyone at all levels of business and it’s also vital to position yourself in a company with a culture that supports work-life balance. Have you ever tossed and turned for hours in bed on a Sunday night nutting out your lengthy to-do list for Monday only to have your plans derailed by around 10 am the next day after a couple of calls from clients? Have you ever stayed back late to complete some Field Records because a Statement of Compliance is about to issue for a project only to find out later that the solicitor didn’t lodge anything at Land Registry until 2 weeks after you released the documents? Maybe you missed your child’s school concert or parent/teacher interview because you had to get something that you deemed as critical finished at work, only to find out the next day that the client changed their mind. So many lost opportunities to put your energy into all aspects of your life rather than focus on just one.
A wise man once told me that the cemetery is full of indispensable people. It’s a great saying and hits home. In this fast-paced modern world, most consultants aim to meet the requirements of clients no matter how demanding they are without stopping to query it. To have respect for ourselves, our time, and our families we should be trying to determine if the request is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’. By asking simple questions such as “what is the critical path for this?” or “what’s your drop- dead date on that?” you can suddenly create some space for yourself, breathe and prioritise. Working to priorities in this manner can help relieve that overwhelming feeling that you have too much on your plate and don’t know where to start.
It’s also imperative to develop great time management skills when life is frantic. If you set some boundaries for yourself in relation to the number of hours you spend in the office you will not only be more efficient whilst at work but come home to a happier household. I personally set a reminder in my Outlook calendar that tells me when to go home for the day. As a mother of two, I have plenty of things to take care of after I leave the office and having a family friendly workplace that supports flexible working hours means that I can walk out the door without feeling guilty.
Exercise and healthy eating are other significant aspects of our lives that often get pushed to the back burner when work is busy. The healthier your body is, the more you think twice about what food you fuel your body with so exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand. It’s so important to make time for regular exercise but it doesn’t have to be a high energy cardio workout or take a huge amount of time. A walk around the block at lunchtime is easy for everyone to do and doesn’t cost anything. I do this most days at work and not only do I feel better because of the endorphins but the fresh air does wonders to clear the mind and helps me focus in the afternoons. Taylors run a program known as FLIP (Fit Life In Program) and as part of this most of the company partook in the Global Corporate Challenge recently where we had competing teams walk/cycle/run/swim for 100 days to get the furthest distance. This program resulted in a significant increase in exercise for most employees who took part, healthy banter amongst the participants and some substantial lifestyle changes for some as a result.
Lastly, in terms of regaining balance, it’s critical that we all find a way to turn the brain off ‘work mode’ when we are not there, particularly at night when the brain chatter ramps up. There are several ways to do this and having a bedtime ritual is an effective way to tell your body to wind down and go to sleep. Try turning off your electronic devices (you CAN do it), have a hot bath, do some muscle relaxation exercises/stretch and meditate. You do not have to be a guru to meditate, it’s easy and there are several apps and YouTube clips available with guided meditations for beginners.
Just remember if you don’t have your health, you can’t be your best so it’s important for all of us to create balance in all aspect of our lives. It might be time to assess your current situation, implement the necessary changes to regain some balance in order to be the best surveying professionals and humans that we can.
Urban Development Survey Manager (Projects) / Licensed Surveyor
This article was recently published in the ACSV (The Association of Consulting Surveyors) Newsletter.