Professional Pest Controller issue 92

30 August 2018

Work-life balance for professional pest controllers

Wellbeing | PPC92 September 2018

Time with your family makes you happier, healthier and more productive. PPC asked Chris Dudley, life coach and founder of The Coach Collective, to weigh in on the perennial balancing act between home and work life.

Getting the pest out of life

The average person spends 40 hours per week at work, for 45 years of their life. Particularly in the summer, pest controllers tend to pack in the overtime, and the work/life balance starts to wobble. We asked Chris Dudley, a Life Coach, to reiterate why it’s so important to put the wasps’ nest down and keep some time free for yourself and your family.

There is no denying working is a good thing. It gives us a sense of pride, increases our self-esteem and provides us with significance - particularly when you’re working in a sector like public health pest control. Beyond this for many working means providing for our families. The challenge is that we can often work so hard and for such long hours, that we end up sacrificing time with our family. The one thing we are focused on working for is the selfsame thing we make the least time to enjoy.

As a life coach I recall working with a client, Tom, who most would deem to be successful. He had a house, a car, he provided his children with a good education, etc. In our first session he made a comment that has remained with me. He said: “I recently took my son to start university, and on the journey home it dawned on me, I have no idea who he is. I’ve spent so much time working to provide for my family, that I haven’t spent any time with them.”

Tom had to work through the realisation that the time he had missed he couldn’t reclaim, but he could change his relationship with work and family moving forward.

In this article I’ll share with you reasons time with your family makes you happier, healthier and actually improves your performance at work.


In the book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey shares the habit of ‘begin with the end in mind’. Often when we jump in our vans and come across the challenges we face in our roles, we lose sight of the reasons we are working. We fall into the trap of just thinking it’s something we do - it’s something everybody does. Or we connect to payday and think about getting money for our contribution.

We need to focus on looking beyond the job and payslip and focus on what it is working actually provides us: our homes, our clothes, food and ultimately you and your family’s happiness and security. Those tough days are easier when we connect to the bigger picture of what our job does for us and our family.

Following on from connecting to what you’re working for, comes actually enjoying it. If you see your work as an investment in your family’s future, you are fundamentally failing if you don’t then proactively seek a return on your investment. Time with your family is your return on investment.

Wherever possible, you should leave all thoughts of bait boxes and bed bugs at your front door. When you enter your home life, you should do just that - enter home life.

Be present for your family, proactively engage with them and enjoy time with them. Not doing this is like investing in a savings account and every day taking the interest you have accrued and throwing it away. Time with your family forces you to unwind, particularly if you focus on being completely present and stop your mind from drifting. One way to do this is to engage in time with your family and say to yourself ‘this moment only exists once, I owe it to myself to savour it’.

A further return on investment, specific to parents, is that children who have the most present and supportive parents are least likely to develop problems as young adults. It’s not the holidays, the presents, the nice clothes or the school trips that make the difference - it’s you being there.


It may be a morbid fact, but no one on their deathbed wishes they’d worked more.

Research by hospice clinician Bronnie Ware on the top regrets of the dying identified the top three as:

  • I wish I had pursued what was important to me
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard 
  • I wish I’d chosen to be happier. 

The good news is that time with your family actually helps you to live longer. A review of 48 different studies that involved over 300,000 people revealed one consistency: people who had stronger social relationships had a higher percentage of living longer. Placing yourself in the family environment forces you to relax, unwind and gain perspective.

I often say to my clients that if you need to take your mind off work, find a toddler and proactively listen to what they tell you. They won’t give you the time to think, and that’s a good thing!

More productive

When you’ve spent time with your family it gives you the freedom to focus on and enjoy your working day. You can avoid the nagging voice in your head attempting to make you feel guilty for not paying more attention to your partner, or not spending time with your children.

If you feel guilty because you aren’t present enough at home, the solution is not to try to put this out of your mind all day! The solution is to actually be present at home. Knowing you’re going home to family to spend quality time with them boosts your optimism throughout the day and can support you in remaining positive in your work.

Whatever your working day throws at you, you know the day ends with spending time with those in the world who mean the most to you and for whom you do this for.

It’s not just your focus that improves at work once you’ve had family time, being with family also develops your skills. These skills are completely transferable to your work life. Engaging with your family improves your communication skills and your ability to adapt to challenging situations which, in turn, improves your resilience. Solving your children’s problems makes you better at solving your own personal and professional problems.

Time for the big one – being with your family allows you to build your empathy. Understanding things from the perspective of others should start with the people who mean the most to you. Empathy is one of the most primary skills for being successful in any role and particularly as a pest controller interacting with clients or a supervisor managing your team.

One of the first activities I complete with my clients is to have them assess their level of satisfaction with all the different aspects of their life, of which family is a key area.

So, let me end with this: on a scale of one-to-ten, where one is completely dissatisfied and ten is completely satisfied, how satisfied are you with your commitment to your family?

If you scored less than ten, ask yourself, “What can I do today to improve this?” Then, go and do it!

About the author and The Coach Collective

The Coach Collective brings together life coaches who specialise in using their knowledge, skills and experience in mental health to support those challenged by stress, anxiety and depression.
Winston Churchill coined the term ‘the black dog’ when describing his own battle with depression and Chris thought his own battle with my mental health was a problem worth solving. Through the tools and techniques of life coaching and therapy, he was able to overcome OCD and depression and The Coach Collective aims to do the same.

The Coach Collective offer one-to-one life coaching and training, and is currently working with UK organisations to introduce life coaching as an employee wellness benefit. Chris is writing his first book, ‘A Better Life. Overcoming overwhelm and taking control’, scheduled for release in January 2019.

Chris’s personal mission is to influence the way mental health is treated in the UK, so the 1-in-4 people challenged by mental health issues can live a better life and train their black dog to heel.

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Chris DudleyChris Dudley
Life Coach
September 2018  |  PPC92

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