Balancing the Grind with Melita Griffin, Director of Customer Relationships at AccessEAP

Melita holds more than 20 years of management experience in the for-purpose sector, working throughout Australia and New Zealand in  the mental health, wellbeing, health, the arts and medical research sectors.

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1) What does work-life balance mean to you and how can/should Australian employees work to achieve that goal?

Personally – I think this answer is very individual and dependent on a person’s individual circumstances. 

For me, it’s about finding the right balance each week to achieve both my personal and professional goals. For example, my weekly personal goal is to visit the gym at least twice a week, have one-on-one time with each immediate family member, have some social time, walk my dogs every day, and ensure I eat at least 5 home cooked meals throughout the week.

At work, my goal is feeling accomplished at the end of each work day, taking regular lunch breaks, keeping emails under control, ensuring I give my staff sufficient time and support to help them reach their goals, and taking the time to reflect and learn each week. 

All in all, I recommend people to define what success looks like for them, and to break it down into goals that are specific and measurable, for both personal and work life. Work-life balance has been challenged with hybrid work, and remote working options – the line between home and work can easily become blurred.

Employees should set clear boundaries to ensure they actually stop working at the end of the work day. People who work from home no longer have a commute to psychologically prepare for the day at work, or create space before going home, so it can be helpful to mark the end of work, and the beginning of life outside through routine. Something that helps me is physically closing my office door at home, before going for a walk around the block.

Prioritising is really important, I set goals both at work and outside of work which helps me to stay focused and pay attention to both work and my life outside of work.

2) What are some routines or habits that can change someone’s life? Feel free to draw on your own personal examples if you’d like. 

Knowing what self care looks like for you, and scheduling time in the day to check in with yourself. 

This can look different for everyone. Two life changing habits for me are planning and exercise; for example at work, I block out the end of my day to spend time to write down my achievements for that day. I then prepare a to-do list for the next day.

Outside of work, I need some form of physical activity to help me both physically and mentally, and personally early mornings suit me best. So, before going to sleep each night, I lay out my clothes ready for that physical activity in the morning, and set two alarms (yes, that’s right, not one – two!). 

3) Are there any books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend for people wanting to improve their work-life balance?

I’m a LinkedIn trawler! This opens a world of resources from other like-minded people, and it’s where I find books, podcasts, TED Talks, and newsletters to read. I usually trawl LinkedIn on a Monday evening, and this creates my to do list for the week. I also bring my curiosity into conversations with others, to hear who or what they recommend.

4) If you could read, or listen to, an interview about work-life balance by anyone in the world, who would that be? 

I love variety, and it depends on my mood at the time. I love to learn, so for me, having a variety of perspectives is very important.

Suggestions include KPMG’s podcast series, Global Perspectives, Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Work Week, or even the ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski. While the latter doesn’t directly discuss work-life balance, it places a lot into context for me, and helps me keep an open mind about how to approach life in general. 

5) Do you have any last thoughts on work-life balance that you’d like to share?

Just because something works for someone else, this doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you. Keeping an open mind, and having a continuous improvement approach, toward achieving work-life balance is what I personally find helpful. 

I am curious and keen to trial, test and adapt others’ approaches to this, and to discover what might work best for me personally. Work-life balance can vary, depending on what may be happening in your personal life, and at work. Being flexible and adaptable around this can make a huge difference.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, as trial and error are often the best approach. Stay tuned in to yourself, notice warning signs that may indicate you aren’t at your best, and make the tweaks necessary to address this. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.