The Work Life Balance

All too often our working days are exclusively full of work and training related academia. It gets even worse because although you can’t literally take the 24-weeker you admitted today home with you, our e-portfolios demanding their reflections and curriculum filling are waiting for us when we get home, even if we choose to accompany them with a glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream. So what about life? Contrary to what the media and government may have us believe we are entitled to a personal and social life, and that needs some time setting aside for it.

When I returned from maternity leave 6 months ago I was determined that work wasn’t going to take over my entire home life. Of course the portfolio has to be done, but I would strive to keep some work-life balance, and more importantly, I would put my promise to myself and my family on paper so it was answerable to. After some consideration I decided to add it to my e-portfolio PDPs.

I went cautiously to my initial placement meeting and endured the laughter from my supervisor who scoffed that she had never known anyone manage to keep a good work-life balance and how on earth would I prove it anyway. But I had a plan – PDPs should be SMARTER, this was my secret:

Specific – set your goals for both work and life. The work part is easy(ish) – satisfactory assessments, 360 feedback and ARCP sign off. The life bit is both more complex and more fun. What do you love doing? I decided to focus it around my toddler and said I would do at least 1 trip out (park, swimming, seeing friends, soft play etc.) and one creative or messy (paint, mud, music etc.) activity each week. But what suits you? There are ways to fit almost anything (sports related, music, craft,  social etc.) into the framework.

Measurable – How can you prove it? The work part is already going to be recorded. The life bit depends on what you are doing. We kept a photo diary which I put into a powerpoint to show my supervisior (and it made a great keepsake for us too). You could download your fitbit logs, keep concerts ticket stubs or programmes or make a portfolio or blog about your craft creations.

Achievable – keep it real. If struggle jogging to a crash call you’re not likely to be doing iron-man triathlons by the end of 6 months, but weekly jogs and a 5k fun run before the end of the job might be manageable. Build it into or around your work schedule. I pick up craft stuff on the way home from work and keep an eye out for NHS discounts at visitor attractions.

Relevant – got to meet your leaning needs. I can already hearing you say that work don’t care about life BUT …the last point in the Generic Curriculum is “Approach to personal health, stress and well-being” – one difficult to evidence but so applicable to this PDP.

Time bound – this one’s easy – within this placement

Exciting – by now you’ve sussed that this will be. What would be better than planning a series of music concert attendances, dance lessons or simply getting covered in paint by your kids.

Recorded – put the outcome into your portfolio as an uploaded document or share with your supervisor.

Thanks to Dr Sarah Steadman

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