Work/life balance


#1

Just curious as to what some of you do for work and if you think you have a good work/life balance?

I’m a secondary teacher and have just gone back 4 days a week after being on maternity leave. I was contemplating a career change before, but now, it is a must. I don’t know how any parent manages to teach and still spend time with family. I’m knackered everyday and have to bring work home every night. They are micromanaging and it sucks. I’m to the point where I’m tired of student behaviour and my employer not trusting me. I’m actively looking, working on my CV/LinkedIn profile and hopefully I’ll be out by Jan.

Anyway, just curious. I really want my evening and weekends. I’m even happy to go full time and give up school holidays to be able to enjoy life more and be happier at work.


#2

Its very important that you have a good work/life balance otherwise your health gets compromised and thats not good at all. Trust in yourself and your skillset, you won’t go wrong. It is very important to find time to unwind and relax.


#3

Yeah I’m pretty lucky at the moment, work on the railways as a track protection coordinator and currently working day shift Monday to Friday 730-4, have the option to work public holidays and Saturday’s if I want the overtime.

I say lucky as when I started on the Railways in 2010 I was doing a lot of 60+ hour weeks mixed in with day shifts/ night shifts so it was a bit all over the shop, the positive of that was it helped me get a good deposit on a property at a pretty young age.


#4

Don’t blame you at all. I got not far from the end of my PGCE and quite drastically decided to quit without completing it and change career direction. I just knew that the demands of the profession would affect my mental health hugely and make me shit to be around for the important people in my life when I wasnt working and with them.

Got a bit of resistance from my girlfriend and family, understandably. But I don’t regret it at all. I now work in the charity sector doing something that feels fulfilling, with colleagues who are overwhelmingly nice and fun to be around and I might get in early most days but I go home at five on the dot and leave my work at the door. Opportunities for career progression are better too tbh.

It still astounds me that people think teaching is an easy gig. It doesn’t even rile me, I just dismiss them as ignorant fools lol. @k1tsun3 it might feel like you’re sacrificing the school holidays, but in my opinion I’d much rather be able to leave at 5 on the dot and go home to my girlfriend (and one day family I hope) and have that time to myself vs having all that time off. Which you spend a decent fucking amount of working anyway.

Sounds like you’re making a good choice, and good for you. I don’t for a second think you’ll regret it.


#5

Yeah, it took me some time to see that about the holidays. I guess you just make it work when you only have yourself to worry about. I was working at an very small school that was part of a social organisation where there were only 3 teachers and we were trusted to do our job. It was draining because of the type of kids I worked with, but there were only 20 students in total. However, the commute isn’t doable with a kid to collect from nursery and the pay was significantly below market value with no real progression available. Now I see how it really just papered over the cracks.

And after finally getting a season ticket this year, I find myself not wanting to go because I’m exhausted. It’s an hour there and back, and I really can’t stand crowded public transport and spaces when I’m tired. I should be excited to go to some matches.

I’m looking at startups and keeping an open mind about a new career. There are two things I know for sure: I need my work to have meaning for me, so I need to be helping people, and I need the right culture at the company. That’s what I’m searching for. I want to find an interesting company and then really consider if there is a role that I’d enjoy with good progression. I spent a 1.5 years at KPMG training as an accountant and hated it, but I was in audit and it was dull. I need more excitement than that and a better company culture. It put me off anything business related. I did e-learning and then teaching.

Thanks for the comments and support! Now if my CV could just magically rework itself. Got to get rid of all the education jargon and use more industry language.


#6

I spent 15 years as a chef. By the time I left I was a Development Chef as part of a trio running the whole north of the UK for my company. I missed out on my older two teenage kids younger years because my job was 24/7 and included all national holidays. I have custody of my older kids now, and when my current partner fell pregnant I made the decision to throw the towel in on my whole career and try something new.

When I was a kid I always wanted to because truck driver. I figured that before I did my licences I would get on the orad experience and became a home shopping delivery driver. I’ve done it for just about two years now and I absolutely love it. It’s the best decision I ever made. The money is okay, but not as good as I used to have. But the lack of stress, the ability to love what I do and the extra time, means that the decision has been worthwhile. Plus the bond that I have with my children now is fantastic.


#7

It’s incredibly important and I can’t emphasis enough how much it means to me. A lot of my teacher friends are really miserable with the workload and the lack of support.

I used to have a really well paying job in finance and I left that behind. I earn half the money now but I’m considerably happier because I get to work at 8 and I leave at 4. After work I have ample time to do my own things. I get to hit the gym 6 days a week, I get to enjoy my own company, spend time with my friends and family (should probably add wife to that but she works for TFL so unfortunately she does a lot of shift work, so often I’m home alone anyway) and it also gives me time to organise myself properly.

When I worked in finance I neglected all of the above because I had long work hours and got sucked into trying to focus on my career at the expense of my happiness and mental health.

Props to everyone who’s made the career change to get them into something that protects their mental health and allows them peace and happiness.


#8

It’s something I’m pretty worried about cos I’ll be a junior doctor in a bit.

Just got to try my best and allocate some time for me.


#9

I’ve been in the civil service almost 15 years now and it’s always allowed for a nice work life balance.

I recently got promoted into the lower rungs of senior management and while that has involved more hours and worries than I’ve been used to it’s also felt like a pretty natural career progression so not much of a big deal there. I’ve also been pretty luck to have been promoted and stayed in situ doing a job I love.

No guarantees that will remain the case in years to come but one thing I am certain about right now is I’ve no desire to progress up the ranks any more this side of turning 50, if at all.

I’ve been lucky with how it’s all panned out for me despite my complete lack of planning but the balance is hugely important to me. I realise this is an incredibly privileged thing to say but I didn’t need the extra money the promotion brought. I can just buy some things I possibly otherwise wouldn’t have.

Do what makes you happy, don’t do what makes you unhappy. Easier said than done sometimes of course.


#10

Heck if I knew.
I like my work and it occupies my head even when I am not working.


#11

For me, work is shit. When I’m not there, it turns to shit. If I left work entirely, however, my life would turn shit


#12

I just started working at a tier 1 investment bank (been there about 3 months now) and it is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

I work quite closely with the traders so I’m often on the phone to them or on the floor trying to help them fix any breaks or get unbooked trades booked so it’s very risky, high volume work.

I usually get into work for about 8:20-8:30 and leave around 7-7:30. With a 30 minute commute each way (depending on fucking Earl’s Court and all it’s bullshit) I’ll usually be home around 8pm.

It’s pretty hard. I only get around 2-3 hours at home in the evening with my girlfriend and my dog which allows us for dinner and a show or two/a movie.

However due to the nature of my work, I literally can’t take it home with me. It’s all done on office software and things can only be done within a certain timeframe (usually close of trading) so my evenings and weekends and holidays are completely my own which is very nice.

It’s a rough adjustment having come from other jobs that were more 9am-5pm and I have been under enormous levels of stress (put there by myself if I’m honest, and my own perfectionism rather than any pressure from my managers) but the money is good and the scope for career and salary growth is significant.

As much as I’m jealous of people with a standard 9-5pm role, I know I would have kicked myself from now until I die if I hadn’t seized this opportunity. Working for this company, as hard as it is, will do so much for my CV and potential future earnings that this sacrifice in my twenties will pay off because it will allow me the type of role and money in a place like the southwest that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to negotiate without that sort of name and experience on my CV. Working in Operations, as well, opens a lot of doors to other types of industry and sector than finance which is really cool to.

Also, it’s important to factor in that they were literally the only company to give me a job offer. I finished my MSc last year and must have sent out at least 30 grad scheme and job applications to both big and tiny companies all throughout Bath, Bristol and London and literally only this company gave me a job offer so in some ways my hands were tied.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity, and it really is a great company to work for a company that is not only so good at what it does but also hires really smart people. I’m surrounded by super smart, competent people all day and that’s a great feeling compared to some of the idiots I’d had to call colleagues before too. The management is good too; they really do put a focus on your welfare and well-being and you can pretty much always get an early leave or a late start whenever you want because the sense of team and helping each other out is so strong.

That being said, I can’t understand how anyone can work in this industry and have kids or anything. I see myself doing 3-5 years, building a strong foundation for my career and learning as much as possible, and then moving on to a more senior role with better money in a smaller company with more reasonable hours.


#13

As a house officer? All the best to you pal, I read this book recently which was quite an eye opener. A very rewarding job for you I hope.

My role is in oil, more specifically in road fuels as something called a Gasoline Blender. Short and skinny of it is I trade physical cargoes of components I blend in tanks to make gasoline that we sell to petrol stations.

Toughest part of it is the social side of the oil industry. Very drink heavy though I try to do my best to keep as distant from it as I can (as much as I love a beer).


#14

The worse thing for me is the commute and the absolute useless state of our fucking railways. Usually I’ll get to the station in the morning and there will be random cancellations or delays. Also, Wednesday night the line was closed due to an obstruction on the track and passengers were just left there stranded with no advice whatsoever on how to get home.

I think I’d enjoy a better balance if I lived in central London but then most of my salary would just be spent on extortionate rent, so I just have to hope the train service improves (:joy:) somewhere in the future. Fed up of losing so much free time


#15

Thanks for all the replies.

Before having a little one . . . In my first few years of teaching I would arrive at 7:30-7:45am and leave between 6-7pm. It worked for me then as my weekends were free. I mainly had work during the Oct half-term and then again at the Easter break. Otherwise, my time off was mine. It’s very hard to do that now when I have to leave at 5pm to collect my son (50 minute commute and don’t want to risk a cancelled/delayed train. Late fees at nurseries are mad. I’m also finding I don’t enjoy the classroom anymore with the increased workload and behaviour problems.

Congrats to those who have made a change! It definitely isn’t an easy decision, especially when a pay cut is involved.


#16

having been a chef most of my adult life I’ve recently gone back into it after a couple year break and doing something else. I moved back from Norway where the work life balance focuses heavily on family and the social side of life. a normal working week was 37 hours and very rarely would you do anything over that. So I refused to when I move back get sucked into running a high end restaurant because I’d have no life, so instead I now do free lance and agency work and since deciding to I’ve been flat out. I choose when I work, where I work and I get the odd week where I get a client that needs me to work a full week at 50-60 hours, short term jobs I charge a day rate and anything that lasts longer than a few days I charge an hourly rate so either way I’m earning a good wage. I generally only ever do a 3 or 5 day week but I also have an enhanced DBS so this allows me to go into private carehomes and schools where the hours are generally day time and work dries up during the after christmas period.

I could never go back to doing stupid hours but I am currently getting bored or the chef thing and looking into studying part time alongside my freelance/agency work.


#17

But why not finish it though?

It is a hard slog as a teacher in the UK. I start at 7, leave about 5.30-6pm. Literally on the go for every minute of that time with a lot of pressure on to generate good data results for the school. I love it so that helps a lot. But every day I’m worried about how to cram everything I need to do in.


#18

You are handling two jobs - kids & your kid. Both of them seem really draining, albeit fun.

For purpose of right fit of work, I joined a firm which is 50KMs away and I ride for almost 2 hours daily to reach there (one way). That’s close to 4 hours I lose everyday which I foolishly justify by listening to educational podcasts.
However because of rainy season, I decided to move closer to my workplace for 3 months.
Very very expensive move but the difference was clear. Although during commute, we are moving but it takes away our fitness, we are more tired and scope of being irritated is more; which I am sure you are aware.

For me time triumphs money and with my next job, I will certainly look to cut down on time wasted in commute.
So look into your finances to see if you can afford reducing the distance.


#19

I think generally in the corporate world this topic boils down to your potential to make money and how hard you’re willing to work or sacrifice to have more of it. This varies for absolutely everyone. I don’t think one philosophy fits all at all in this case.

The wealthiest corporate workers are absolutely career driven to the core. My brother is a prime example who basically spends his whole waking weekday at work. He’s always been money driven throughout his life and put in dogs work academically for it. Earns very well but has effectively no life or time to have a healthy lifestyle at its cost. More common example is my brother in law who’s willing to work various jobs seven days a week to get that bit more. I’m sure that goes for quite a few people posting on here.

Never really been a career driven person myself so I’d rather not accept a day job that I dread to go into work for. At some point I probably won’t have much choice, but I’d much prefer to keep all of work wrapped up within 9-5.

I don’t have to love every aspect of what I do, but I do want to feel fulfilled when doing it and it does help considerably to enjoy the work and seeing the results of getting it done. There’s pressure but it’s healthy pressure.

I work as an IT consultant in a media company. Mainly QA work within a development team. Really good fit for me at this point and rarely gets taken beyond hours. It’s a relaxed working environment, with flexible working hours and I can identify with the majority of the products my team works on. Good vibes, good cross-functional communication, good banter and the right level of responsibility at this stage. It’s pretty cool to actually use the products you helped develop too. Plus I don’t need to wear a fucking suit any more… happy days.

I feel part of job satisfaction is seeing a genuine scope for growth. And thankfully there’s zero limit here to developing any technical expertise within software engineering and project management.

As a whole, I’m happy with what I do to get by. The fact that I’m satisfied with my job allows me to focus on my life outside of it a lot more.

Happy that for now it’s not situated in London because the commute is just not worth it and the pretentiousness of suits is a bit sad. It’s easier to find money, space and time for sport and gym away from London too.

Outside of work hours I can meet friends, stay active and enjoy my exceptionally diverse multimedia and sports craze.

The primary goal is to maintain a life that I want and to stay productive. That’s what the balance is to me.


#20

I’m also a secondary teacher, and it is a very, very hard balancing act. So much depends on where you work as a teacher. It’s always a full on and demanding job, but there are some places that just work their staff like dogs until they burn out and then they replace them with NQTs and go back to the start of the process.

I trained in a multi-academy trust and they absolutely worked people to death (I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that was literally true). It was quite common to listen to staff talk about how working there affected their marriages and their families. All the policies that you’d imagine with that - written lesson plans for every lesson, marking every book from every class every two weeks with leadership militantly enforcing that it was done and bullying anyone who hadn’t (which was everyone, obviously). By sheer dumb luck, when I got my job for my NQT year it was at a school where the culture was totally different and there was trust in teachers to do their job.

It’s still bloody hard though, when you work at a school like mine, you want to do as good a job as you possibly can. Trying to keep on top of everything is a struggle. Marking has always been the crux of the workload issue for me, and even with policies in place to manage this, it is hard. I’m not naturally a really organised person, but I’ve learned to keep a routine that keeps me on top of most of the job.

For me its about making sure I work from the minute I arrive at school to the minute I leave (I arrive at 7:45 AM, leave somewhere between 4 and 5). I try very hard not to get involved in the standard chats about how much work everyone has to do whilst everyone sits around drinking a coffee not doing that work.

I don’t work after school on a Monday because we normally have meetings, I always do most of my out of hours work on Tuesday evening because that’s when I’ve got the most patience with it - I get in, have some dinner, watch an episode of something and then work till about 9. Wednesday I either go to the gym or work depending on how much work we’ve got on, Thursday evening I normally work, although I try to make sure I down tools by half 8. I never work after school on Friday because that’s ludicrous.

On the weekends, I never work on Saturday, that’s when I see Katherine (my daughter), and it’s maximum 3 hours on a Sunday.

I used to work literally all the hours in the world. In my training years, including sleep, I worked out at one stage that I was at work, travelling between work, or working at home for 2 out of every 3 seconds per week. A combination of a bit more experience and more importantly, working at a better school has allowed me to kick that. I utterly refuse to go back to it.

I am, weirdly, lucky as a single Dad that I can ringfence my time with my daughter and refuse to let anything touch it. People with young families at home, I have often wondered how they do the job as well as many of them do. I can completely understand your move towards getting out. I have no idea what your school’s like, but I would say have a look at what’s out there before you give up on the profession altogether.