A quick but effective guide to work-life balance in procurement

It would be an understatement to say that it has been all systems go in procurement. From pandemic disruptions to war and the interest rate crunch, in most procurement teams more is expected of us than ever before. And the hours in the day aren’t expanding as fast as our workload. Given this, how is it possible to maintain a semblance of work-life balance? 

A quick but effective guide to work-life balance in procurement

Most work-life balance guides focus on productivity ‘hacks’, but unfortunately, simple tips such as only checking your email a few times a day and avoiding non-essential meetings can only go so far. 

To find true work-life balance, what researchers say that professionals really need is not more hacks, but a change in attitude. 

Here’s what that might look like if you’re a busy, somewhat overwhelmed procurement professional who still aspires to a high level of professional success.

Three simple but effective tips to help maintain work-life balance:

Pause and reflect 

For decades, many professionals have associated success with long working hours. 

This idea is prolific throughout the world – so much so that entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk claim that in order to be successful, people need to work at least 80 hours a week. 

Yet work, like everything else in life, can be a matter of prioritisation. And the first step to creating a better work-life balance is to pause and reflect on your assumptions about work and what you believe is required to succeed. 

Typically, when someone seeks a better work-life balance, what they really mean is that they want more ‘life’ outside of work. 

So if this is you, ask yourself: 

  • What, really, is causing me stress? Is it my own expectations of myself, or is it external factors, such as my workplace culture or a desire for a promotion? 
  • What am I prioritising?
  • What am I sacrificing by prioritising work instead of other aspects of my life? 

Asking yourself these important questions is the first step in increasing your awareness of how your own decisions and priorities might be affecting your work-life balance. 

Consider how you feel 

If you’ve been feeling burnt out of late, it might be easy to assume that everyone else feels that way, and that every hard-working member of your procurement team wants and needs balance as much as you. 

That simply isn’t true. 

Besides the fact that research has shown long hours aren’t necessarily productive, each person feels differently about working long hours: some people genuinely enjoy it and feel as if their work is everything to them. If this isn’t you, though, then the next step to creating work-life balance is to consider your emotions. 

If your work-life balance is frustrating, but you know the situation is temporary, then there may not be any reason to change. If, however, you feel frustrated, angry, bitter, exhausted, or hopeless, it could signal that you’re ready for a change. 

Considering how you feel about your current work-life balance is critical to figuring out how much of a change you need to make. 

Reprioritise and make change 

Taking the time to consider your situation, and how you feel about it, gives you the tools you need to determine what your priorities are, and how they might need to be adjusted. 

No work-life balance is not inevitable, regardless of how senior you are. Likewise, long working hours are not key to being successful. 

Once you have considered your priorities and what you want balance to look like for you, you can start to make changes. 

Often, procurement professionals think that these changes have to be dramatic: for example, finding a new role in a company who values balance more. However, if you don’t want to take this step, there are a number of things you can do to create a better work-life balance, including: 

  • Discussing with your manager more flexible work options, including a compressed week, a four-day week, or working-from-home options 
  • Setting boundaries for yourself around when you stop working and/or checking emails
  • Turning down requests for work travel or additional projects 
  • Asking your manager or your team for more support if you regularly feel as if you can’t do your job within your allocated hours per week. 

In 2023 and beyond, work-life balance will continue to pose challenges for busy procurement professionals. For this reason, it’s important to act now: pause, reflect and reprioritise, and make the changes you need to create the balance that you deserve. 

Ready to take ownership of your career and get the visibility you deserve? Learn more about our 2023 BRAVO Women in Leadership Programme and register today.

Find more Women In Procurement & Supply Chain news, insights, and best practises at Procurious.com.